Lovell Hosts US’s First Successful Kokamee Salmon Captive Breeding Program

Written by on June 9, 2020

Lovell is making history in a fishy way.

For the first time in the United States, kokanee salmon are being successfully bred and raised in captivity at the Tillett Springs Rearing Station north of Lovell. This success has come after years of effort from the Wyoming Department of Game and Fish along with many other agencies. Last fall marked the first full spawning cycle since the captive breeding program began, and now it can confidently be called a success. Nearly 95 percent of the eggs from this spawning cycle were viable

This is the only active kokanee salmon broodstock program in the United States, meaning that the fish are a group of mature individuals used for breeding and maintained in captivity as a source of replacement or enhancement of the population. Game and Fish stocks nearly 1.7 million kokanees annually in Wyoming waters. They used to rely on fry from wild fish. Fish were caught, they spawned in captivity, and were released. This was an enormous amount of work for the Department and stressful for the fish. So, after every variable from location to water temperature was accounted for, the broodstock program was established at the Tillett Springs Rearing Station.

The success of this program is drawing national interest, and could easily become a model for other salmon captive breeding programs around the country. But the immediate positives will be seen by Wyoming’s spring anglers. Kokanee salmon are growing in popularity as a game fish, and now the land-lock Wyoming salmon is making a big captive and wild comeback.


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