Companies tenured to take tours down the River of Golden Dreams are voluntarily suspending operations as of Sept. 7 to clear the way for spawning kokanee salmon.
Water levels have dropped significantly in recent weeks, and even navigating the narrow creek at the north end of the lake is challenging at this time of year. The closure will be in effect for the next six to eight weeks.
The public is also being asked to observe the closure. If boaters wish to paddle, then they are asked to launch form the bottom of Lorimer Road after the river levels are raised by Twentyonemile Creek, or portage along the Valley Trail.
Kokanee are the same fish as sea-run sockeye salmon, but they spend their entire lives in fresh water. Kokanee can be found in lakes throughout B.C. and mature at three to five years of age.
They move into streams to spawn in the fall or in some places can be found spawning on the lakeshore. They are known for their spawning colors - a bright red body and a green head.
The female digs a redd (nest) with her tail and deposits hundreds of eggs, which are fertilized by the male. Like other salmon, they die soon after they spawn.
The fry will emerge from the gravel in the spring and the young will migrate to the lake.
Kokanee populations in Whistler are highly variable from year to year. The best areas for viewing kokanee spawning in Whistler are in the River of Golden Dreams from the Lorimer Road pedestrian bridge and in Whistler Creek.