Kokanee

Kokanee
Common names
Silver trout
Latin name
Oncorhynchus nerka
Category
Fish

State record

WeightAnglerLocationDate Caught
6.25 lbs Clarence F. Rief Lake Roosevelt, Grant County June 26, 2003

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Description and Range

Physical description

Kokanee are the non-anadromous (non-migrating) form of sockeye salmon and like all salmon, they die at after their first spawning. Kokanee have blue backs and silver sides and unlike other salmon and trout, except chum salmon, sockeye and kokanee lack distinct dark spots on their backs and tail fins. In addition, when compared to other trout, they have finer scales, larger eyes, and deeply forked tail.Average 9-12 inches. Kokanee can grow up to 20 inches in quality populations.

Regulations

Licenses and Permits

Washington anglers must have an annual freshwater or combination fishing license. Licenses can be purchased online; by telephone at 1-866-246-9453; or at hundreds of license dealers across the state. 

Rules and Seasons

Information on fishing regulations and seasons is available in the sportfishing rule pamphlet and the Fish Washington app, which conveys up-to-the-minute fishing rules for every lake, river, stream and marine area in the state.

Where to fish

Kokanee are present in numerous lakes around the state where they have been stocked to provide angling opportunity. They are open water feeders that target plankton and prefer depths where the water temperature is near 50 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, kokanee can be found at different depths throughout the year due to varying water temperatures and conditions.

How to fish

Kokanee can be caught from spring through fall.   The best kokanee fishing occurs during late spring when plankton blooms become more common.   The kokanee become more aggressive and will be found closer to the surface.   Trolling, still fishing, and jigging are all effective ways to fish for kokanee.   The majority of trollers use strings of trolling blades or dodgers ahead of brightly colored spoons or spinners that have lots of silver, red, or orange in their finish.   Still fishers often use size 8 to 12 hooks tipped with maggots, shoe-peg corn, or small pieces of worm.   Jigging can be an effective method when a large school is located, and depending on how deep the fish are, a ¼ oz. to 1 oz. jig should get the job done.

Some popular lure types for kokanee are spoons (e.g. Dick Nite, Mepps, Kokanee Kandy, Triple Teaser), spinners (e.g. Rooster Tails, Panther Martins, Mepps), wedding ring spinners (i.e., Mack's Lures, Jim Diamond), crankbaits (i.e., Apex Kokanee Killer, Tomic Wee Tad, Jensen Kwikfish), and trolling flies (i.e., K-Fly, Smile Blade Fly).   Kokanee have very soft mouth so it is a good idea to use snubber or very soft rods.