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Kokanee salmon given away in Dolores

The Dellinger family, of Cortez, had fun collecting free kokanee salmon at Joe Rowell Park Thursday in Dolores. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)
Colorado Parks and Wildlife said spawn was success thanks to higher flow on Dolores River

About 100 people showed up for a free kokanee salmon giveaway Thursday in Dolores put on by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

People waited in line with coolers, bags and buckets at Joe Rowell Park. Each person was given 10 to 15 fresh salmon harvested from the Dolores River.

“It is our first time. I usually catch them, but no time with a baby at home,” said Tyler Walker. “This is great.”

Walker said he plans to cook the fish in a smoker.

More than 1,000 salmon were handed out from a large barrel on the back of a CPW truck. A fishing license was required.

The mature kokanee travel up the Dolores River from McPhee Reservoir to spawn at the CPW fish station.

The salmon run was successful this year, thanks to good river flow conditions compared to last year, said Jim White, CPW aquatic biologist.

Grim McGuffin, of Cortez, catches dinner during the kokanee salmon giveaway in Dolores Thursday. The fish were harvested by Colorado Parks and Wildlife during the spawn. (Jim MImiaga/The Journal)
A man with a cooler collects free fish during a giveaway at Colorado Parks and Wildife Thursday in Dolores. (Jiim Mimiaga/The Journal)
Aquatic biologist Jim White and fisheries technician Bre Hawman handed out kokanee salmon in Dolores Thursday. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)

The Dolores River was running at 80 cubic feet per second, compared with 40 cfs this time last year, which prevented most of the salmon from making it to the fish station.

At the station fish technicians collect the fertilized eggs, and raise them at the Durango Fish Hatchery, said Ryan Lane, of CPW.

The juvenile fry are then taken back to the Dolores River fish station and held for 10 days to imprint on the location before being released into the river. They flow down to McPhee Reservoir then return to the fish station where they were released three to four years later.

The McPhee kokanee have a better food source and are larger than the kokanee from Lake Nighthorse, White said.

Because of the low reservoir, fish techs walked the river inlet to look for potential barriers for salmon spawning up river, and no obstructions were found.