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Fishing, the hard way

by Judie Steeves
Staff Writer Capital News
June 14, 1995

Using plastic kitchen strainers, more than 30 local volunteers helped officials from the environment ministry save about 400 fish caught in the Mission Creek Spawning Channel when it was dried up on the weekend.

Members of local fish and game clubs, the B.C. Wildlife Federation and Kelowna Community Services waded into the pools remaining in the channel after the flow of water was shut off, to net fish and put them back into the main channel of Mission Creek.

Fisheries biologist Dave Smith from the environment ministry’s Penticton district office explained this is the first time since the kokanee spawning channel was first constructed as a pilot project in 1988 that it has intentionally been drained.

Beginning Thursday, contractor Emcon Services of Merritt, which was the successful bidder for the $288,465 contract to rebuild the channel, will start work on the job.

It will include improvements to the intake, the sedimentation pond and the quality of the spawning gravel, as well as sealing the channel with a clay liner to prevent the present loss of water, which endangers eggs and affects critical water temperatures.

In the past there have been serious problems with ice jams building up at the intake in winter, interrupting the flow of water while kokanee eggs are in the bottom of the channel.

As well, settling basins have silted up, preventing those ponds from collecting sediment to prevent them from suffocating the eggs and maintaining clean gravel for spawning.

A second bypass intake will also be constructed for use in emergencies and clean-outs and the channel will be rebuilt to accommodate an additional 2,000 kokanee to use it.

At present 15-20,000 adult fish can use it during the fall spawning run, but in the past two years the return in numbers have declined alarmingly, and it’s hoped this work will have some effect ultimately on those numbers.

Smith said of the 400 fish moved out of the channel Saturday many were juvenile rainbow trout, and others were adult sculpins and suckers, including eight large adults.

Rainbow don’t spawn in the channel, which isn’t large enough to interest them, Smith explained.

There will be some mortalities from the draining, he said, but garter snakes had already emerged to make use of them, and he expected raccoons will also be attracted.