Anglers should be excited about what was discovered during Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s recent kokanee survey of Dworshak Reservoir – fish are stacking up in the upper reservoir and their size is quite appealing.
The larger fish have begun their migration up the reservoir as they prepare to spawn. The highest densities of kokanee were found from Gold Creek to well above Grandad Bridge.
“If anglers want to catch these fish, the upper part of the reservoir is the place to be,” said Sean Wilson, Fish and Game fisheries research biologist.
Good fish densities still occurred near Magnus Bay, with even a few large fish were sampled as far down as Dent. But their densities were nothing close to what was found farther up the reservoir.
In addition, the density of kokanee found in the upper reservoir was the highest ever seen for fish larger than 10-inches. Typically when fish are found in these numbers, their sizes are much smaller.
“Not only are these fish of a decent size, but they were also very plump,” said Wilson. “It appears that the nutrient restoration project is making a difference.”
With fall approaching, the kokanee are just starting to show signs that spawn time is nearing, such as the snouts beginning to change shape, scales starting to tighten up, and just a blush of crimson on a few fish. However, the flesh quality should be good for eating for some time yet.
Kokanee have dark orange flesh, full of fat and Omega 3 oils which make them great for barbecuing, smoking, or other cooking methods.
“Kokanee make excellent table fare,” said Wilson. “Remember though, spawning typically starts in late August or early September, so don’t wait too long.”
Kokanee are landlocked Sockeye salmon. Like their ocean-going relatives, their bodies undergo a colorful transformation (green head and red body) before they spawn in the fall and die. Decomposing carcasses provide vital nutrients for the young fish to grow and continue the cycle of life. They also provide a great opportunity for viewing in the fall on tributaries to Lucky Peak, Arrowrock, Anderson Ranch, Ririe, Deadwood, Lake Coeur d'Alene, Payette Lake and Lake Pend Oreille, as well as Dworshak.