In case you missed it, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has stocked Lake DeSmet with Kokanee Salmon. While it is a test of sorts to see if they will be able to thrive and give anglers a new deepwater fish to catch, the hope is they will catch on. And that is great news for residents of Sheridan and Johnson counties.

You can look forward to a short drive to Lake deSmet, pulling up between two county 17 plates screwed onto jacked up trucks, and launching your boat to catch a fish previously not available at such short notice.

Kokanee are a sockeye salmon and are on the smaller side in comparison to other breeds. Measuring 9-12 inches and getting up toward 14 inches, they pale in comparison to other larger salmon like the Chinook. Kokanee aren’t fished because they are sporty or particularly hard to catch but because they at the kings of taste. You can eat them fresh or smoke and can them, it’s up to you and your preference.

I started off with the idea I would give a solid rundown on how to smoke and can Kokanee, but the more I read about it the more dangerous it seemed. Not only is the process of canning a long and arduous journey, I learned canning smoked fish takes on a whole other beast and can result in unsafe food conditions.

So, without wanting to kill anyone, I decided to go the route of filleting a fresh kokanee salmon on the shores of Lake DeSmet and cooking it over an open flame. Like the Editor Ashleigh Fox wrote about a few weeks ago, open-flame cooking is as good as it gets. Something exciting about going back to your primal roots and cooking something you just caught or gathered hours before.

I hope you get your fill of this tasty fish and good luck out on the lake!



2 garlic cloves, minced

6 Tbsp light olive oil

1 tsp basil, dried

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp parsley

4 kokanee salmon fillets, skin still on


1. In a large Ziploc bag, prepare marinade by mixing garlic, light olive oil, basil, salt, pepper, lemon juice and parsley.

2. Place salmon fillets in the Ziploc bag. Marinate in the cooler about 1 hour, turning occasionally as you get a fire going.

3. Place fillets in aluminum foil, skin side down, cover with marinade, and seal. Place sealed salmon in the coals of the fire skin side down. Check the salmon after a few minutes and continue checking until the fish is flaky and cooked.

4. Remove the salmon from the bag, remove skin from the salmon and enjoy!