Kokanee Salmon

If you look closely, you will see three pink fish in the centre of the photo. These are small Kokanee salmon; they are a form of land-locked sockeye salmon that live all their lives in fresh water.

It’s thought that they became separated from their sockeye relatives and trapped in lakes and streams about 15,000 years ago. While they spend most of their time in lakes, they travel into creeks and rivers to spawn. Many of them die while following this biological imperative; you can see some dead ones in the photo above.

Photo courtesy of Canstock.

The average Kokanee only grows from about 1.5 to 3 kilos (six pounds). They are not the prettiest looking fish, but the males turn dark pink when they are spawning.

I have eaten Kokanee salmon and they have a very delicious, somewhat mild flavour; in my opinion they taste more like a richer trout.

Greetings from the Kokanee salmon of the Okanagan Valley. 🙂

19 thoughts on “Kokanee Salmon”

  1. Amazing how strong the urge to survive is with salmon and the efforts they will go through to propagate the species. Thanks for sharing Lynette. Allan

  2. If everything goes right I hope to be hooking up with a few of these guys. A six pound fish on a #16 hook and 2lb test on an ultralight rod sounds like a good morning’s work. Tight lines, everyone.

      1. We mostly have rainbow and brook trout down here, but a six pound one is pretty rare, even for a hatchery fish, and just about unheard of in the wild. The next time I make it up to BC I will be stomping in the creek for sure. The kid next door to the place we stayed in Shuswap told me you had to troll for trout in the lake, which was disappointing. I didn’t catch anything, but I kept my three day fishing license for a souvenir. I’ve been meaning to mount it and hang it on the wall.

  3. Sounds like this salmon has a very limited range and could be in danger of extinction if over-fished….so, as much as I love salmon, I’d want to know how endangered they are before consuming any.

    1. Unlike many species, they are actually spreading and can now be found much further inland; some have been found as far inland as the Canadian prairies. There is no commercial fishery for Kokanee that I’m aware of; they are not generally available unless you catch one or you know someone who can give you one. 🙂

  4. It’s incredible how salmon have such a strong urge to spawn and that they go through so much effort to get themselves as much upstream as they can. I’ve been vegetarian for so long that I’ve forgotten what fish tastes like, so I’ll take your word for it.

    1. I agree. It’s also amazing that they were able to survive being landlocked; their whole life cycle was disrupted. I’m not vegetarian but a close second (I don’t know if that has a name!); I eat meat or fish quite rarely. Cheers, Lynette

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