Wednesday, November 22, 1995
The final numbers are disappointing, but not entirely unexpected, said fisheries officials this week as they released the final Kokanee spawning estimates for this fall.
Ironically, there was a crash in the numbers of Kokanee using Kelowna’s Mission Creek spawning channel, which underwent a $300,000 reconstruction this year. While 36,000 fish used it in 1992, only 5,000 came into the refurbished facility this year.
In total, throughout Okanagan Lake there were actually 5,000 more spawning Kokanee this year than last, but less than half the number from 1989 when 241,000 spawned.
Although the stream spawning fish hit the lowest number ever recorded on the lake’s tributaries this fall, the shore spawning Kokanee numbers are the highest since 1989, a bright spot in a bleak picture.
Fisheries biologist Steve Matthews pointed out there does seem to be some cycling in Kokanee populations, with a similar low in spawning numbers in 1990 when a total of 111,000 were estimated to have spawned.
“We may start to see an upswing,” he commented optimistically.
Without the ban on fishing for the landlocked salmon instituted earlier this year, numbers would have been 20 per cent lower still, estimated senior fisheries biologist Bruce Shepherd.
In Mission Creek itself numbers were nearly half last year’s, at 10,800, while the run in Powers Creek was also at its lowest since 1989, at 9,200.
Even Peachland Creek numbers were down to 5,800, down from 8,100 last year, and a third of the numbers there in 1992, despite considerable efforts by the Peachland Sportsmen’s Association.
However, efforts in Penticton Creek by the local sports clubs paid off again this year, with runs of 12,000 both years, compared to 2,000 three years ago, and less than 100 a decade ago.
Efforts are under way by the Fisheries Branch to tackle the complex problem, with an Okanagan Lake Action Plan being prepared and reviewed by a Scientific Advisory Panel.
A number of projects to investigate and test different theories are in the planning stages.
Kokanee runs on Wood and Kalamalka Lakes were strong again in 1995, at least in part because of enhancement by clubs such as the Kalamalka Fly Fishers and the Oceola Fish and Game Club, noted Matthews.
All stocks remain highly susceptible to human impact, he said, but all spawning areas must be protected and enhanced to ensure a healthy diversity of runs.
If you’d like to help or want more information, contact the Fisheries Branch toll-free at 1-800-461-1127.