Kokanee Salmon

A landlocked sockeye, the Kokanee has a dark blue back with silver sides. During spawning season, males will develop the lower jaw hook and both male and female will turn a deep red.
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Oncorhynchus nerka
CLASSIFICATION
Fish
LIFE SPAN
4-8 Years
SIZE
10-26 ” | 2-5 lbs
STATE CONSERVATION STATUS
  • Unprotected
FEDERAL CONSERVATION STATUS
Least Concern
GAME STATUS
Game
  1. Washoe
  2. Humboldt
  3. Pershing
  4. Churchill
  5. Mineral
  6. Lyon
  7. Douglas
  8. Carson City
  9. Storey
  1. Elko
  2. Lander
  3. Eureka
  4. White Pine
  1. Esmeralda
  2. Nye
  3. Lincoln
  4. Clark

Habitat & Range

Kokanee are found in freshwater rivers, lakes and streams.

Threats

  • Bears
  • Birds
  • Humans
  • Larger Fish

Natural History

Originally native to the river systems of the Pacific Northwest, Canada and Alaska, the Kokanee was introduced into landlocked fresh water in the early 1900’s. In Nevada, Kokanee can be found in Lake Tahoe and tributaries to Lake Tahoe during its fall spawning period. Spawning from August until January, they will usually spawn in gravel bars or lakeshores if needed.
Preferring zooplankton, their food will change as the fish grows larger. However, the Kokanee typically will not feed during the spawning process but has been known to still strike a lure. They are best suited for high, cold, and large mountain lakes and move deeper in the water as the surface temperatures rise about 60 degrees.

Fun Facts

After spawning the female may defend the area but will die shortly after.