Kokanee have become a very popular game fish on the Arrow Lakes and the Columbia River tailwater in Robson where the Hugh Keenleyside Dam navigation lock connects the lake and river. Kokanee (Onchorhynchus nerka) are actually freshwater landlocked Sockeye Salmon. The adults do not migrate to the ocean, but instead spend their entire lives in large lakes such as the 232 km long Arrow Lakes.
Kokanee are smaller than their ocean going sockeye counterparts, but they fight with the same fierce tenacity and are excellent table fare. Most kokanee average 20 – 30 cm (8-12 inches) in size; however, the unofficial world-record kokanee was caught on the Arrow Lakes in 2015 and was more than 80 cm (30 inches). The daily limit on the Arrow Lakes is 5 fish, and the Columbia River has a generous quota of 15 fish per day.
Kokanee are silver in colour with dark backs, but when they spawn in the fall an amazing transformation takes place. Their bodies turn a vibrant red and their head turns a dark olive-green. The males also develop a mid-body hump, long jaws, a hooked snout and large, intimidating teeth.