Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Fall Run of the Rocky Mountain Kokanee

In the mist of the Rocky Mountains swim a trapped Salmon specie, more specifically the Kokanee Salmon; landlocked form of sockeye salmon, both die after spawning. Konanee Salmon - Oncorhynchus nerka - was originally described by Walbaum in 1792 from sockeye taken in Kamchatka. The scientific name is Greek for "hooked nose of flowing waters".

I have caught Kokanee in lakes as a kid. The sleek fish were streamlined build with brilliant steel sides and dark blue backs were fun to troll for. At the time I didn't think much of it. At the time I was just a kid, fishing for anything, especially if it was a boat (a rare event). A few years ago I thought about them again and set out to find the schools of landlocked finned wonder. But this time I was interested in seeing them in full color, view the metamorphosis.

I know what happens, I know how it all works, I am familiar with these fish BUT it's mostly paper knowledge. I have only had the chance to fish for them a few times. Each experience I leave the water with a rejuvenated mind set. I thought many times how awesome this is to witness as I watched the cycle of life happen right before my eyes

During the spawning season the fish transform from the shiny silver bodies to dark red. Their head ranges in color from a florescent greenish hue to a deep dark green. The head is bluntly pointed and narrowed snout and small stark white teeth line the jaws. Breeding males have a more compressed head and body with a prolonged, hooked, turned up snout and a hump before the dorsal fin. The teeth protrude and line the jaws, it's a site to see. And then there is the striking color change… deep dark to freshly painted bright red., their head ranges in color from a florescent hue to a dark green. What A sight.

Once again it was that time of year, autumn. Ralphy had the day off, I did as well, and at the last minute we grabbed our gear and headed to the desert to find the landlocked Salmon… and other fish.

We learned some new stuff, such as last years spawning grounds were ghost towns this year, go figure. There is a cycle to where the lower river spawning runs occur. After finding these fire red fish I decided I had to bring one to hand and coaxed a single Kokanee to my fly. Ralphy snapped some pictures before we wandered on, following the blue water to wherever it might go.

All Salmon photos courtesy of Nate Miller

It was a fun day of exploring new stretches of river - all while looking for fish of course. We found some Kokanee schools in places that were bare the prior year. I have wanted to go back, to see the final stage of a fish with a purpose. Stay tuned for the return.

Check out Nate's cool stuff at -->http://www.flickr.com/photos/32854617@N08/


Hoss said...

Great post. I was trying to make out the signature on those pictures but can't read the name. I love the photography. If you don't mind me asking, who takes those?

BG said...

Thanks Hoss.

Most of the pics on here are shot by me. I do post other shots taken by friends such as the Kokanee.

I have had a few altercations with photos so I have opted to attach a "signature" to curb any misunderstandings. If someone wants to deliberately steal them then there is nothing I can do... it's just to discourage anyone form using them....and I to be honest, I would rather not put a signature.

anyway.. thanks for stopping by!



Those fish are just so cool, turn the color and form a sexy curve! Amazing... great post BG!

Anonymous said...


Good to read something of yours again. I hope the reason you haven't posted for a while is you're getting some fishing in instead ;-)

We have some kokanee here in Cache Valley that I've taken the kids to see when their spawning, but I've never taken the time to fish for them.

Keep up the good work!

mike doughty said...

bad ass bryan! i am jealous. i have had opportunities to fish for them here in colorado before but could'nt talk my daughter into it. oh well