Kokanee salmon milking | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Kokanee salmon milking

Dan Thrift

The romance is dead at Taylor Creek.

While the kokanee salmon’s typical reproduction process may seem a little unromantic to common folk, it is ecstasy compared to what they went through on Tuesday.

Rubber-clad volunteers waded through shin-deep water at Taylor Creek, netting fish by the dozens to ensure the survival of the species. The salmon were then checked for diseases and separated, males into one bucket, females in another.

Volunteers from the California Inland Fisheries Foundation along with representatives from the California Department of Fish and Game and the United States Forest Service were harvesting the salmon in their fourth and final crop of the season.

While one person squeezed out the eggs, another added a dash of milt from the male. The eggs, carried in large milk containers, are then transported to the San Joaquin Hatchery near Fresno.

“This was a bumper crop year,” said Bob Eool, a volunteer from Grass Valley. “We’ve gathered 1.5 million eggs from Taylor Creek.”

It may seem cruel, but volunteers pointed out that in the normal cycle of a kokanee, they would die after the spawning process anyway. The dead fish are sent to a rendering plant while next year some 400,000 fingerlings will be released back into Taylor Creek and about 20 other lakes in California, where they might be able to experience some real romance.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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