Free Kokanee Salmon

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Colorado Division of Wildlife | DOW Insider
Published Sunday, October 18, 2009


DOLORES, Colo.--The Colorado Division of Wildlife is giving you an opportunity to bag some salmon--and you don't even need to bait a hook.

To receive free kokanee salmon, anyone with a valid Colorado fishing license can come to the Vallecito Community Center on CR 501 at the northwest end of the Vallecito Reservoir starting Friday, Oct. 16 at 3:00 p.m.  A separate salmon giveaway will take place in Dolores at the Joe Rowell Town Park starting Thursday, Oct. 22 at 3:00 p.m

Kokanee, which live in Vallecito and McPhee reservoirs, travel up Vallecito Creek and the Dolores River every year to spawn. DOW staffers harvest the spawn from the fish and take it to the hatchery in Durango to produce a new year-class of kokanee. Fingerling kokanee salmon are released in the creek/river every year in April above the reservoirs.

After spawning, the fish die. So to prevent these great-tasting fish from going to waste, the kokanee are given away to anyone holding a fishing license.

Fish will be given away each Friday at Vallecito and Thursday at Dolores (starting at the Dates listed above) - probably for about the next three weeks - until they are gone.  Please bring a suitable container to hold the fish in.  The number of fish given away will vary and depend on the strength of the salmon run. 

Kokanee "snagging" season starts Nov. 15 and goes until Dec. 31.  Taking kokanee salmon prior to these dates is prohibited in Vallecito and Grimes creeks and in the Dolores River.

There are only a few waters in Colorado where spawning kokanee can be collected. The collection process is the only way to assure sustainable kokanee populations into the future.

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to:

Last update on 10/18/2009
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