Colorado Parks and Wildlife will give away kokanee salmon at Joe Rowell Park in Dolores at 3 p.m. on Thursday. Anyone wanting fish must present a valid 2019 Colorado fishing license.
The number of fish each person receives will be determined by the number of kokanee collected during the spawning run and the number of people who show up for the giveaway.
People interested in receiving fish must bring their own container, so bring a bucket or a cooler. Most of the kokanee are from 9 to 12 inches in length.
The kokanee is a freshwater, land-locked sockeye salmon. It is not native to Colorado but is well suited to Colorado’s large reservoirs and is a popular game fish.
At McPhee during normal water years, the salmon make a fall spawning run up the Dolores River, where the females lay their eggs in fine gravel. The young fish float back to McPhee, with most becoming a meal for predator fish, said CPW biologist Jim White.
Those that survive, about 5%, spend three to four years maturing and then make their way back to the Dolores River spawning grounds, and the cycle is repeated.
The adult kokanee are captured at a CPW facility on the Dolores River for the giveaway. Some eggs are harvested and raised in the Durango fish hatchery to be distributed to other hatcheries and lakes.
If you miss the free fish event, the kokanee snagging season is from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31 on the Dolores River from the West Fork confluence to the standing water line of McPhee Reservoir. The bag limit is 10 fish per day.