How to identify a Kokanee Salmon

Kokanee are the land-locked form of sockeye salmon. Because they never migrate out to the ocean to feed, kokanee are often much smaller than sockeye. However, other than their size, kokanee have very similar identifying characteristics as sockeye. Most kokanee live in a lake for most of their lives, so you can usually see them spawning near the edge of a lake or in a small tributary that feeds into a lake.

Where to catch Kokanee Salmon

There are kokanee populations in Lake Washington, Lake Sammamish, Issaquah Creek, and other the other small creeks that feed into these water bodies.


How to Identify a Kokanee Salmon
 1 In males, back and sides are bright red to dirty red-gray, head is bright to olive green, tail is green to black

 2 Males have a large dorsal hump

 3 Sides are bright red to dirty red-gray


  • Current Edges
  • Drop-Offs
  • Freshwater Lakes and Ponds
  • Merging Currents
  • Ripples, Currents, Swirls and Sprays
  • Rock and Boulder Pockets
  • Small Pointed Waves
  • Undercuts
  • Channel Entrances
  • Dams and Falls
  • Eddies
  • Man-Made Structures
  • Outsides of Bends
  • Rivers and Streams


Acknowledgements:  We thank TAKEMEFISHING.org (www.takemefishing.org), Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Indiana Department of Natural Resources for their contributions to these FISH FACTS.