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Low fish stocks a mystery

by Ron Seymour
The Daily Courier
September 25, 1994

Something fishy is happening in creeks around Okanagan Lake, worried anglers say.

Kokanee stocks are down dramatically from past years despite attempts to revive crucial spawning grounds.
“If the numbers don’t start coming up soon, there might not be any kokanee fishing allowed. Period. I mean, what else could you do?” Bill Bosch, vice-president of the Oceola Fish and Game Club, said Friday.
As recently as the mid-seventies, more than one million kokanee used to spawn each year in streams connected to the lake. That has dropped to 175,000 in recent years.
“I remember going to Mission Creek as a kid and it was red, literally red, with millions of fish in it,” said Ron Taylor, president of the Okanagan Region of the B.C. Wildlife Federation.
“Now when you go there to watch the kokanee spawn, you can almost count the fish,” Taylor said.
Sam Saprunoff, president of the Lonely Loons Flyfishers, said he’s seen a variety of fish decline over the past two decades.
“I’ve fished that lake for 15 years and it’s definitely deteriorated,” he says. “They’re simply not there in the numbers they used to be.”
Sportsmen and Ministry of Environment officials hope to make the public aware of the threats facing kokanee stocks during this Sunday’s Fisheries Awareness Day at Mission Creek Regional Park.
Key reasons for the drop in kokanee stocks include:
€ the introduction of a small shrimp that was supposed to provide more food for rainbow trout. The shrimp have eaten a lot of plants that young kokanee also depend on.
€ the alteration or degradation of many steams and creeks, and diversion of water for residential and commercial development.
€ pollution of waterways.
“The whole intent of Fisheries Awareness Day is to make the public more aware of the plight of the kokanee,” Taylor says.
Anglers and government officials hope that would lead to boosted public support for costly revitalization projects, such as a proposed quarter-million-dollar enhancement of the Mission Creek spawning channel.
Events and activities at the park run from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. The day also marks the official opening of a new interpretive centre.