Colorado's Kokanee Salmon

Saje and Sam Heckman with some Kokanee salmonIt's been a great year of fishing so far, fall is finally here. This is my favorite time of year. The cool weather is right around the corner and many species of fish are getting ready for their fall feed.

There are lots of species to pursue around the state. The bass and walleye are chasing shad in the low lands and the trout are feeding like crazy on scuds and hoppers in the mountains.

One species that is not talked about much is the Kokanee salmon. Yes, Colorado has salmon. This is a land locked pacific sockeye salmon that is stocked into selected mountain lakes and reservoirs.

Many anglers troll for them all summer long with various pop gear and selected lures and now they are entering the spawn and the mature salmon will start schooling up and be sought after by anglers in a different way. The state allows a special snagging season for kokanee salmon.

Kokanee SalmonSalmon will run the gravel banks looking for spawning areas and many run the rivers to spawn also. They can be seen porpoising and jumping out of the water and cruising shallow along the shore lines this time of year.

This may be seen as a crude way to fish by some and yes snagging is exactly what it is. The salmon do not eat lures during the spawn and will die soon after they spawn. The way anglers catch them this time of year is they use a snagging hook, which consists of a 4/0 + treble hook that is weighted down. They use a heavy rod and heavy line and cast out and sweep the hook back ,hoping it snags on to a salmon cruising by. That is the way it is done.

There are several lakes and reservoirs anglers can go to to catch some of these tasty salmon, I will name a few that will open for snagging on the first of October. Carter Lake, Clear Creek Reservoir, Green Mountain Reservoir, and 11- Mile Reservoir are some that will produce for you.

Male Kokanee SalmonThe Kokanee salmon will start to change in color to a reddish look and the males will start to form a hooked jaw. These are very cool looking fish this time of year when they are in the spawn definitely worth a photo.

The Kokanee salmon are sought after mainly because they are great eating. I fillet them and soak them in brine for a day or so and them put them in my smoker. My son loves them on the grille wrapped in tin foil with a butter and a little salt and pepper and lots of brown sugar this forms a sweet glaze that is just perfect. Done in half an hour and is well worth the effort.

If it's Kokanee salmon your looking for, this is the time of year to go out and snag up a few. Please check the regulations for all bodies of water you are going to go to to make sure that the "Special Snagging Season" applies. It is definitely a different way to catch salmon but it is a good way to utilize a resource and not let them go to waste after they spawn.

Best of Luck,
Sam Heckman
Denver Pro Staff

Comments for Colorado's Kokanee Salmon


Name: lorraine
Time: Monday, October 10, 2011

Has anybody had any luck snagging this year? We have been up every weekend since Sept. 1 and.......no luck!

Name: none
Time: Thursday, January 5, 2012

try swinging flys, they will eat it and you will have fun. Instead of dredging it makes for a fun day.

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