Outdoors

Roosevelt kokanee looks like chinook, tastes foul

FISHING — Lake Roosevelt trout and kokanee have a well deserved reputation for being excellent table fare.

That's why a fishing buddy was so surprised to prepare a bright 18-inch unmarked salmon he caught a on the reservoir and find it to be on the dog-food-tasting side of edible.

“I had a salmon fillet last night and it was horrible,” he said. “Any salmon I get in the future that has a black mouth will be returned to the water or used as eagle bait for pictures.”

Indeed, it had black on the inside of its mouth including “most” of the gum line, which suggests chinook salmon, possibly down the Spokane Arm from Lake Coeur d'Alene. On the other hand, it looked much like a kokanee for the lack of large black spots on its back and tail.

My friend took a head and fins of the fish to Washington Fish and Wildlife Department regional fisheries manager John Whalen for examination. Whalen thought they were chinook, possibly from Canada, and possibly with a genetic glitch in order to have the black gumline but no spots.

Either way, they're not the fish you want to serve to somebody you want to impress.




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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