The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has recently completed the release of the 2016 allotment of kokanee salmon fingerlings. This year’s allotment included 634,430 kokanee released into 13 lakes and reservoirs throughout the state, including 50,000 in Bass Lake.
CDFW typically stocks between 800,000 - 1 million fingerlings annually in 18 waters statewide. Bass Lake was the only lake in Madera County to receive kokanee salmon. Shaver Lake in Fresno County received Fresno 50,300 fingerlings.
Kokanee were introduced into California waters to provide diverse recreational angling opportunities for anglers and have become an extremely popular sport fish. They are typically smaller than the landlocked Chinook salmon with the average size about 12 inches.
Due to the continuing drought conditions making it difficult to obtain kokanee eggs within the state, this year’s allotment was supplemented with eggs provided by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The landlocked version of the sockeye salmon, the kokanee (pronounced coke-a-nee) spends its entire life in fresh water. Instead of migrating to the ocean, adult kokanees inhabit large lakes before returning to their natal streams or gravelly shorelines to spawn. Like all Pacific salmon, kokanee die after spawning, the whole life cycle taking from three to seven years.