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Okanagan kokanee stocks decline

Surveys of kokanee fish numbers in Okanagan lakes during the fall of 2013 showed below average or poor numbers in three of the four major lakes.

Only Kalamalka Lake showed excellent spawner numbers of kokanee and exceptional average size in the fall according to the annual survey conducted through the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources.

Some fish caught by anglers in Kal Lake approached world record levels.

According to ministry figures, kokanee numbers in Kal Lake totalled 45,000, the highest return in 20 years.

While Kalamalka hit record levels, returning numbers in Skaha, Okanagan and Wood lakes were all below average.

A significant mortality rate from poor in-lake conditions in 2011 contributed to very low returns in Wood Lake.

Returns in 2013 were slightly better than the year previous but remain below historic levels.

Due to the low numbers in Wood Lake, the spring kokanee opening will remain brief, April 15 to May 31, with no fishing permitted for the balance of the year.

Routine surveys of the number of fish returning to spawn along shorelines and in-lake tributaries of the main valley lakes show:

  • Okanagan Lake kokanee spawners totalled 126,000. This is a small increase from the poor returns in 2012, but still below average.
  • In Kalamalka Lake, kokanee numbers totalled 45,000, which is the highest return since 1994.
  • Skaha Lake's total kokanee count is estimated at 18,000, which is the lowest return since 2001.
  • Wood Lake kokanee that spawn in Middle Vernon Creek totalled 2,900, counted via a spawner fence set up for this purpose. In addition, standard visual surveys of the Wood Lake shoreline indicated 850 kokanee spawning along the shoreline areas. Totalled, this represents a slight improvement over 2012's result of 2,300 but still very low.

In-lake conditions were excellent for kokanee survival in 2013 and a more substantial kokanee run that should be able to support a full season harvest is expected by 2015, provided conditions remain favourable.
 

 

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