Increased flows in the Dolores River this summer enable Kokanee spawning

From the Cortez Journal (Jim Mimiaga):

Last year, there was no run because the lake was so low, explained Jim White, a aquatic biologist with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

In low water years, the river carves a wide channel in the lake bed that is too shallow for the kokanee salmon to make their way to spawning grounds, 5 miles up river at a specially designed fish hatchery.

But deeper water triggered a run this year attracting bald eagles to the valley and a line of people at the traditional November fish giveaway in Dolores…

The kokanee spawning zone on the Dolores River is a system of ponds that drain into a concrete-formed “raceway”, controlled by gates, sieves, and fish cages. The females lay their eggs in the fine gravel, and then go off and die, becoming a meal for eagles, bears, and otters.

Some eggs are harvested by biologists and raised in the Durango fish hatchery to be distributed to other hatcheries and lakes, including back to the Dolores.

From the hatchery, they float down river and into McPhee Reservoir, with most becoming a meal for predator fish. Those that survive, about 5 percent, spend 3 to 4 years maturing and then make their way to where they were born to lay eggs.

More Dolores River Watershed coverage here and here.

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