Kikinee is the nsyilxcən name for landlocked sockeye salmon of the Okanagan. Kokanee is derived from this word.
Over a century ago, immediately south of Ribbleworth Falls, a shallow bay with a rock and gravel lakebed provided excellent spawning grounds to shore-spawning kikinee. In late October, Okanagan First Nations families would gather near here, camping while they socialized, fished for the kikinee, picked Saskatoon berries and preserved their harvests for winter. Fish were dried on racks in the sun and wind.
Since Kokanee tend to rush into their spawning grounds in large schools, traditional Okanagan First Nations fishers used a seine or mesh net to catch them in the shallow bay. Nets were woven from a twine made from hemp dogbane (sp‘its‘n in nsyilxcən), which still grows wild on these shores. The nets were held close to the bottom of the lake with stone weights and held upright in the water using floats. A beach fire was used to attract fish and made fishing more productive.
As the shoreline changed over time, the kikinee began spawning in the deeper water and Okanagan First Nations fishers adopted new methods of catching shore-spawning kikinee. Spearing or gaffing fish from a boulder on the shore or a dugout canoe close to shore became the most effective way to fish. Traditionally, a hand-made three-pronged spear was used to lift the fish out of the water. When metal became available this tool was replaced by a gaff, a large metal hook attached to a long pole. A torch of pine sticks and pitch, bound with red-osier dogwood and Saskatoon bush branches, was used to attract fish.