Author: Trouts Staff
When you ask somebody to tell you what comes to mind when you say “Colorado Fly Fishing”, most people would mention 2 things: the Rocky Mountains and Trout. The reality is that fly fishing in this state is very closely associated with the resident trout (Rainbow, Brown, Brook, Cutbow and Cutthroat), and not the many other species that fill our local ponds, lakes, reservoirs and rivers. Yet every Fall, the Kokanee Salmon make their annual migration out of a few or our states reservoirs, and essentially goes from being a complete anomaly to fly anglers to being a highly sought after species. Yet there still remains a large number of fly anglers who are completely unaware of this species, particularly how much fun they can be to catch on a fly rod.
The Kokanee Salmon is essentially a land-locked Pacific Sockeye Salmon. These fish were first introduced to lakes and reservoirs in the interior US starting in the early 1900’s, and these stocking programs continue today. Because they don’t venture from saltwater to freshwater, Kokanee Salmon are much smaller than their androgynous brethren, and only get to be about 1lb – 3lb. It’s also important to point out that except for a few exceptions, Kokanee don’t ever successfully spawn. As a result, local fish and wildlife agencies have to do annual stockings to maintain adequate population numbers. Yet although these fish don’t successfully spawn, it is during the spawning period where this species becomes accessible to fly anglers as they will seek out gravelly shore lines in reservoirs, or small tributary streams to swim up and “spawn”. Just like any other salmon species, once they begin their spawn these fish stop eating and will eventually die.