Each fall, Colorado’s kokanee salmon swim nearly 30 miles upstream from Blue Mesa Reservoir to the Roaring Judy State Fish Hatchery in Almont, Colorado. Here, CPW biologists and hatchery staff collect eggs from these unique, landlocked sockeye salmon. The eggs are then raised at the hatchery and the fish are restocked in 26 different lakes and reservoirs across the state. Because the fish are both raised and restocked at the Roaring Judy hatchery, the fish return here to spawn and complete their lifecycle each year. Kokanee typically live about 4 years in a reservoir before they spawn and die.
In addition to egg collection, the spawned kokanee are given away to ensure the meat is not wasted. Giveaways are conducted each Friday at the hatchery throughout the spawning process, which normally concludes around the first part of November. Participants must possess a valid Colorado fishing license to receive the free fish. Those who wish to participate in the fish giveaways should visit the hatchery’s website for details, as fish numbers and spawning dates can change from year to year.
To learn more about fish hatcheries, please visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website.
Produced by Jerry Neal (Colorado Parks and Wildlife)