The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has recently completed the release of the 2016 allotment of kokanee salmon fingerlings. This year’s allotment included 634,430 kokanee released into 13 lakes and reservoirs throughout the state.
Kokanee were introduced into California waters to provide diverse recreational angling opportunities for anglers and have become an extremely popular sport fish. They are typically smaller than the landlocked Chinook salmon with the average size about 12 inches.
Due to the continuing drought conditions making it difficult to obtain kokanee eggs within the state, this year’s allotment was supplemented with eggs provided by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“Anglers can expect excellent fishing opportunities in these waters two years from now, when these fish reach a catchable size,” says Kyle Murphy, Senior Environmental Scientist and project leader of CDFW’s Landlocked Salmon Program. “The stocking of fingerling-sized fish is a very cost-effective way to maintain this popular recreational fishery.”
The landlocked version of the sockeye salmon, the kokanee (pronounced coke-a-nee) spends its entire life in fresh water. Instead of migrating to the ocean, adult kokanees inhabit large lakes before returning to their natal streams or gravelly shorelines to spawn. Like all Pacific salmon, kokanee die after spawning, the whole life cycle taking from three to seven years.
CDFW worked closely with volunteers at the California Inland Fisheries Foundation, Inc. and Kokanee Power, Inc., especially during the 2015 kokanee egg take operation. The careful planning and coordination between these two organizations, the American River Fish Hatchery, the San Joaquin River Fish Hatchery and the Silverado Fish Planting Base have made this year’s kokanee salmon releases a huge success.
The fish were planted in the following waters:
Water County Fish Planted
Boca Reservoir Napa 25,042
Bullards Bar Reservoir Yuba 70,140
Donner Lake Nevada 25,042
Hell Hole Reservoir Placer 25,042
Lake Tahoe El Dorado 138,099
Little Grass Valley Reservoir Plumas 15,052
Stampede Reservoir Sierra 60,027
Union Valley Reservoir El Dorado 49,995
Lake Berryessa Napa 50,111
Bass Lake Madera 50,064
Don Pedro Reservoir Tuolumne 19,980
New Melones Tuolumne 55,524
Shaver Lake Fresno 50,312
CDFW typically stocks between 800,000 – 1,000,000 fingerlings annually in 18 waters statewide.