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Collecting Eggs From Kokanee Salmon At Flaming Gorge

Joe Skorupski

In an effort to build-up kokanee salmon populations in the state, Wyoming Game and Fish has begun collecting eggs in Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

Kokanee were first introduced into the gorge in the 1980s. Fisheries biologist Joe Skorupski says they were intended as food for trophy lake trout, but they're also good as food for people.

“Kokanee are a pretty desirable species for anglers,” he says. “They’re fun to catch and they taste really good.”

At this time of year, the land-locked, fresh water salmon are in the late stages of their run and at their most fertile. 

“The males and females, their bodies start to turn red,” Skorupski says. “And their heads get this kind of darkish green. And the males actually get a big hook jaw. Their snout more or less extends and they get pretty nasty teeth.  It’s considered their spawning conditions.”

Female kokanee can lay as many as 1500 eggs before they die. 

Skorupski says Game and Fish collects the eggs to raise in the Auburn Fish Hatchery before releasing into the state’s lakes. Kokanee only spawn every three or four years, usually in the Green River, up Sheep Creek or along the cliffs of the reservoir.  

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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