Kokanee Kokanee are the land-locked sockeye salmon. Unable to migrate to the ocean, kokanee rarely reach the proportions of their ocean run brethren. Their identifying characteristics are very similar to sockeye. Prior to spawn kokanee are a silvery sided fish with a green or blue back and white tips on the ventral and anal fins, and little or no spotting. Spawning males develop a bright to olive green coloring on the heads, bright red body coloration, often a hooked jaw and a small, but obvious hump. Spawning females exhibit a less brilliant coloration than males, the jaw is “normal” and they retain their prespawn shape. Their size at maturity is typically 12-18 inches.
Kokanee live in a lakes most of their lives, doing best in well oxygenated, open waters that don’t exceed 60 degrees. They feed primarily on zooplankton, small fish and insects are occasionally taken. Their diet can change throughout the year based upon food availability.
Kokanee are most readily available to anglers during spawn, which occurs from early August through late December. Were self-sustaining populations exist they run up streams or rivers after 2-4 years in open waters. Were stocked, they return to their release point. Females build redds on gravel bars, with both sexes defending the nest. Once the eggs are laid and fertilized Once fertilized, the eggs are buried beneath the gravel. Most kokanee die within a week after spawning. Fry emerge in April through June, then move downstream to mature in lakes or reservoirs. In many regions kokanee stocks are maintained through stocking programs.