Witness the splendor of nature as the kokanee salmon make their annual fall migratory journey. Held at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center, the Fall Fish Festival celebrates the start of spawning season, while also highlighting the various species of fish that live in Lake Tahoe and its surrounding rivers.

This fun weekend will be filled with free events and activities for adults and children including face painting, food vendors, and educational activity booths. Forest Service biologists on hand streamside will educate guests about the kokanee, as well as the federally classified threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout and lesser-known smaller fish like the speckled dace.

Take in the fall colors along Rainbow Trail, a half-mile loop leading guests on a peaceful stroll through the forest, along the creek and through marshes and meadows, where they can see salmon beneath the surface just a few feet away from the path. The underground stream profile chamber, located right along Rainbow Trail, provides the opportunity to see the kokanee up close with a clear view under the crystal waters of Taylor Creek.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s giant inflatable Lahontan cutthroat trout will be present, while mascots Lulu the Lahontan cutthroat trout and Sandy and Rocky Salmon will welcome guests of all ages. They’ll also be joined by Smokey the Bear, who just recently had a celebration of his own when he turned 75 in August.

The Fall Fish Festival coincides with the annual Oktoberfest at Historic Camp Richardson. Both are popular public events and parking fills up fast, so guests are encouraged to take public transportation, carpool, walk, or bike.

Sunday also brings the 30th Running of the Kokanee Trail Runs, sponsored by Tahoe Mountain Milers. The annual half-marathon along the shores of Fallen Leaf Lake kicks off at 9 a.m., at which time participants of the 5K and 10K races will also begin. The Tadpole Trot, a noncompetitive half-mile for kids 12 and under, starts at 10:30. Early registration ends Oct. 3. Visit tahoemtn.milers.com for sign-up information.

Festivalgoers are reminded to be bear aware, as black bears are fond of the spawning salmon and can often be found along Taylor Creek doing some fishing. The salmon are part of the natural diet for the omnivorous bears, who have the instincts to know when the spawning festivities will begin. The Forest Service cautions the public to stay away from bears, as they are wild animals and dangerous, noting it is important to stay on trails. If you do spot a bear, keep your distance and never approach the bear for any reason.

The Fall Fish Festival is held at the U.S. Forest Service Visitor Center at Taylor Creek, located on State Highway 89, 3 miles north of the city of South Lake Tahoe. The event is hosted by the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit in collaboration with the Great Basin Institute.

INFO: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; (530) 543-2674; fs.usda.gov/goto/ltbmu/fallfishfest


  • Juliana Demarest

    Juliana Demarest is a Jersey girl with ink in her blood. She fell in love with print journalism at a young age in the '80s when her Uncle Tony would take her to "work" at his weekly paper. In 1997, she co-founded a weekly newspaper in North Jersey. One day, she went to photograph a local farmer for a news story. She ended up marrying him and leaving journalism to become a farmer's wife. In 2010, they packed up their two children and headed to Truckee in pursuit of the outdoor life. She didn't realize just how much she missed journalism until she joined Moonshine in 2018 after taking time off to be mom. Connect with Juliana juliana@moonshineink.com

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