SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – As summer comes to a close and autumn arrives just around the corner, enjoy the last dog days by witnessing something special — kokanee salmon transforming into a unique shade of red!

The annual phenomenon happens only throughout September and October, according to the Department of Wildlife Resources.

To celebrate this special period, the DWR is hosting two free viewing events on September 11 and September 18 so visitors can witness the transformation in person. DWR biologists will be present to answer questions about the fish and even allow you to meet one up close!

Throughout the year, kokanee salmon are typically silver-colored, but during their seasonal spawning, they transform into a brilliant shade of red.

Male kokanee salmon will also transfigure by acquiring humped backs, hooked jaws, and elongated teeth during this special period.

“We’re hoping to see really good numbers of kokanee in their bright red, spawning colors,” says Tonya Kieffer-Selby, DWR Northeastern Region Outreach Manager. “Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, wild turkeys, sandhill cranes, red-tailed hawks, songbirds, squirrels, and a variety of other wildlife have greeted visitors in the past. We look forward to the kokanee migration, as it’s a great symbol of the changing seasons and an indication that autumn is here.”

The red coloring will make it easy for visitors to spot the salmon as they embark on their journey up rivers and streams.

The free viewing events will take place on September 11 at Sheep Creek in Daggett County from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on September 18 at the Strawberry Reservoir in Wasatch County from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reservations are encouraged, with all event info available here.

DWR is reminding visitors that any kokanee salmon caught during the spawning period between September 10 through November 30 are not allowed to be kept. Viewers should also take care not to disturb the salmon by wading into the water or allowing pets to chase or pick up any fish.

If you can’t make it to the viewing events, the salmon can be viewed throughout the state in various locations until the first week of October.

These locations provide a great way to not only spot salmon, but also enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking along the way.

Viewing locations for kokanee salmon throughout Utah include:


  • Jordanelle Reservoir and Provo River (Summit County)
  • Strawberry Reservoir (Wasatch County)


  • Causey Reservoir (Weber County)
  • Porcupine Reservoir (Cache County)
  • Smith and Morehouse Reservoir (Summit County)
  • Stateline Reservoir (Summit County)

Electric Lake (Emery County)

Fish Lake (Sevier County)