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Research: Projects

  • Mission Creek Spawning Channel (1988/89,1990/91 – 1991/92)
    Improved existing diversion channel for spawning Kokanee and evaluated effectiveness of channel enhancement.
  • Okanagan River Kokanee Spawning (1989/90)
    Improved Kokanee spawning habitat by removing milfoil from spawning gravel.
  • Peachland Creek Kokanee (1988/89 – 1991/92)
    Maintained gravel platforms and incubation boxes, repaired rock weirs and controlled siltation. Also, evaluated previous projects by assessing Kokanee fry production.
  • Vernon Creek Improvement (1988/89 – 1990/91)
    Performed various stream enhancement activities to help Kokanee spawning habitat: stream clearance, gravel placement, construction of boulder weirs, streambank stabilization and installation of fish barrier at creek junction.
  • West Kettle River Habitat (1990/91 – 1991/92)
    Assessed feasibility of enhancing Rainbow trout rearing habitat. Surveyed trout in test areas and constructed debris catchers to increase rearing pool habitat for Rainbow trout.
  • Winfield Creek Enhancement (1989/90)
    Improved Kokanee spawning habitat by excavating and replacing spawning gravel, excavating settling ponds to control silt and sand deposition and realigning stream course.


  • Loch Long Dam Construction (1991/92)
    Repaired dam and made storage reservoir which feeds Mission Creek and provides flows to spawning Kokanee when water is low.
  • Okanagan Tributary Assessment (1989/90 – 1990/91)
    Assessed water availability in Okanagan Lake watershed and developed a plan to secure flows for Rainbow trout and Kokanee into tributaries.
  • Tadpole Lake Storage (1988/89)
    Developed a plan for sharing water storage in Tadpole Lake with Westbank Irrigation District to secure minimum flow for Powers Creek.
  • Trepanier Ditch (1988/89)
    Upgraded ditch water system to a pressurized system which benefits Kokanee using Trepanier Creek.

Ecosystem Management

  • Burnell Lake Aeration (1988/89)
    Installed two electric aerators to increase winter survival of Rainbow trout.
  • Kilpoola Lake Aeration (1988/89, 1990/91)
    Installed a solar aerator, then replaced it two years later with a diesel aerator to improve survival of Rainbow and Brook trout.
  • Fish Passage – Burns Lake Outlet Screening (1989/1990)
    Installed a protective screen to prevent Rainbow trout from leaving the lake.

Information and Education

  • Mission Creek Awareness (1989/1990)
    Constructed a 12 panel information kiosk and prepared brochures to promote fisheries awareness.
  • Okanagan Storm Drain Marking Program (1988/89 – 1989/90)
    Implemented a storm drain marking program in Okanagan: coordinated schools and volunteers, marked storm drains and distributed pamphlets.
  • Peachland Creek Tours (1988/89 – 1989/90)
    Conducted school tours and public education tours of Kokanee spawning habitat.

Protecting Habitats

  • Peachland Creek Erosion Control (1989/90 – 1990/91)
    Constructed a series of dams to minimize siltation in creeks and to stabilize the entire gully which is used by Kokanee.

Spawning and Rearing Habitat Improvements

  • Kelowna Creek Enhancement (1988/89)
    Planned enhancement projects for spawning habitat with public involvement following completion of a flood control project.
  • Lee Creek Fish Barrier (1990/91 – 1991/92)
    Constructed a barrier to prevent Rainbow trout from leaving Osprey Lake and getting trapped in Lee Creek.
  • Middle Vernon Creek Kokanee (1991/92)
    Dredged the stream, stabilized streambanks and placed gravel to improve spawning habitat for Kokanee and trout.

Research: Action Plan

The Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks closed Okanagan Lake to Kokanee angling on March 15, 1995 in attempt to conserve remaining numbers of indigenous stream and shore spawning Kokanee (Oncorhynchus nerka).

On June 28-30, 1995 a technical workshop was held in Kelowna at Okanagan University College where representatives from government agencies, academic institutions and public stakeholder groups were invited to compare notes on the Kokanee decline and to develop an action plan aimed at restoring Kokanee populations in Okanagan Lake.

A number of factors appear to have contributed to the recent Kokanee decline.

These include:

  • degradation and/or loss of stream spawning habitat;
  • impoundment of streams and diversion of water for urban use;
  • increased angling pressure;
  • introduction of exotic species (Mysis shrimp);
  • reduction of Kokanee shore spawning habitat;
  • urban runoff; and
  • competition between hatchery and native stocks of Kokanee.

The information presented at the workshop indicated that the Kokanee decline may be due to the reduction in carrying capacity of Okanagan Lake.

This reduction in lake productivity limits the number of juvenile fish due to reductions in nutrient loading and competition from introduced Mysis shrimp.

The workshop results indicated there are two approaches for increasing the carrying capacity of Okanagan Lake:

  1. increasing productivity via large scale application of limiting nutrients; and
  2. reducing the Mysis population to lessen competition with Kokanee.

The nutrient enrichment strategy generated considerable controversy due to differing regional and technical concerns about water quality versus fish, therefore the Mysis control strategy became the focus of the Okanagan Lake Action Plan.

This will require involvement and co-operation of all groups of people along with regional government, and may involve some type of growth management plan and zoning restrictions to ensure key Kokanee spawning and rearing habitats are protected.

As quick fixes are not likely to be successful from either a technical or a biological perspective, the Okanagan Lake Action Plan is a long term recovery project.

Research: How to help

  • Leave natural vegetation alone.
  • If you live by, or are hiking along, a creek or around the lake’s shoreline, do not alter the natural vegetation. Any change to your property along waterways requires permission from BC Environment.
  • Remember trees shade the creek keeping the water temperature cool for fish. The roots hold the creek bank together so less soil is washed into the water covering the spawning ground of fish.
  • If a creek is bare of vegetation, get active and plant some trees.
  • Do not dig holes or try to redirect the flow of the creek.
  • Digging in the creek can destroy spawning areas and fish may be stranded if the flow of the creek is altered.
  • Keep pets and livestock away from creeks. They can trample and destroy vegetation or walk on and ruin spawning grounds.
  • Keep household chemicals out of creeks.
  • Never dump chemicals near a creek or into a ditch or storm drain. Ditches and storm drains are meant only to drain rainwater away. If waste oil, gasoline, anti-freeze or other chemicals get into the creeks, they pollute the water and kill the fish.
  • Reduce the amount of fertilizers and pesticides used in your gardens. They harm people and fish as well as other animals. Excess amounts of fertilizers entering the waterways can make algae and weeds grow too fast. This disturbs the fishes’ food supply and may use up the oxygen supply in the water.
  • Remove garbage from the waterways.
  • Don’t litter. Litter in the creek and lakes can ruin water and it may be toxic to fish and wildlife that use it.
  • Bottle caps, cigarette butts or cellophane wrappers which are thrown into the water may be eaten by fish and injure or kill them.
  • Reduce the amount of water used in your house as well as out in the yard.
  • Fish compete for water use with us. They require certain amounts of water flow during critical periods in their life such as spawning and low water levels in the creeks and along the shoreline can kill eggs and developing fry. Governments must be aware of effects of variations in water level.