Okanagan kokanee salmon spawning early this year

The land-locked sockeye salmon don't usually spawn until the first week of September, but an Okanagan Nation Alliance fish biologist says there are already hundreds of kokanee pairing off.

'We saw about 4 or 5 dead kokanee in there, which means they are just starting their peak spawning'

Kokanee salmon usually don't begin spawning until the first week of September. (Carmen Wong/Parks Canada)

Kokanee salmon in the Okanagan are spawning nearly a month earlier than expected this year, surprising both biologists and tourism officials.

The land-locked sockeye salmon don't usually spawn until the first week of September, but Okanagan Nation Alliance fish biologist Howie Wright says there are already hundreds of kokanee pairing off in the creek at Peachland's Hardy Falls Regional Park.

"We saw about four or five dead kokanee in there, which means they are just starting their peak spawning," he said.

"There were reds being being developed and very noticeable."

Wright thinks the early spawning might be due to lower water temperatures from the cooler weather the Okanagan region has experienced this year.

"It is surprising. Kinda shows you how adaptable the kokanee can be. It might be that it's a strategy for them to spawn a bit earlier and emerge a bit earlier depending on the temperatures," he said.

The Regional District of Central Okanagan was caught off guard as well.

To coincide with the early salmon spawning, the district has moved its Kokanee Salmon Festival and summer interpretive programs ahead three weeks.

With files from Brady Strachan