I’ve caught steelhead salmon before. They are highly prized, both for the fight they put up on the water, and for their tastiness on the table.
Kokanee are the landlocked version of steelhead. Kokanee don’t occur naturally; they’re hatchery planted fish. This practice began in Washington state, but occurs in lakes throughout the Northwest today. Idaho is one of the states that stocks kokes, as they are known to locals.
During the fall, it’s not only the leaves that change colors. Fall is also kokanee spawning time. That’s when they turn a dazzling red with a green head. When the spawn happens, they aren’t great for fishing (at least if you want to eat them), but they are a favorite target for such predatory birds as the bald eagle. Find out the best places to watch this amazing spectacle in this article from Outdoors Unlimited.
As autumn approaches many outdoor adventurers enjoy watching a natural transformation that changes the look of Idaho’s high country; while the autumn sky is filled with the colors of changing leaves, so are many Idaho streams filled with color of spawning kokanee salmon.
Kokanee are the land-locked version of the anadromous sockeye salmon which spend most of their lives in the ocean, then return to places like the Stanley Basin to spawn. The domesticated kokanee planted in Idaho reservoirs and lakes originated in Washington state in the 1930′s and 40′s. Fish and Game has successfully introduced them into many lakes and reservoirs around Idaho including: Lake Pend Oreille, Lake Couer d’Alene, Priest Lake, Dworshak Reservoir, Payette Lake, Warm Lake, Lucky Peak, Arrowrock Reservoir, Anderson Ranch Reservoir, Deadwood Reservoir, Island Park Reservoir, and Ririe Reservoir, just to name a few.
Photos: 52 Rivers (top); Visit Idaho (above)