Steeves: Rainbow trout feeding on the kokanee

Ididn’t realize deer could read, but nine of them showed up in my backyard a couple of days after my last column to give me a piece of their mind about using the word venison when referring to deer.

Were they ever annoyed!

I’m taking a different tack with them now. I’ve fenced the vegetable garden and put out traps for the mice.

I’ve also icked anything in bud that they like to eat in all the gardens but one, where instead I’ve installed a Contech ScareCrow I picked up at the opening of the new Buckerfield’s store.

It’s a motion-activated sprinkler that detects movement and repels it with a sudden, short burst of water.

I can’t wait for the day someone forgets it’s armed and walks up to the garden to pull a weed!

Anyway, we had it all set up, but it got so cold the past couple of nights that we disconnected and brought it inside so nothing could freeze and break.

Before we could take it back out and set it up again the first morning, three great big mulies hopped through the yard, followed by a herd of half a dozen more.

I’m assuming they were does, but were they having a baby shower down by the creek or what? I imagine they’re just about ready to drop their fawns by now.

So, we haven’t had a chance to test it on a four-legged victim yet.

But I’m sure hoping it works.

I got a bit of sympathy from Doug Maves, who wrote to say he can’t figure out where they are during hunting season.

He was also jealous of Jim Sutherland, who caught that 26-pound rainbow trout in Okanagan Lake earlier this month.

He says he’s seen rainbows trying to ingest kokanee the same size as they are, and he’s also seen a foot-long kokanee come out of a big trout’s stomach.

Dad always used to tell me to check out the stomach contents of a fish I caught to get an idea what to use on the line. It was fascinating.

Sutherland is a really competitive angler who is always trying to outsmart the big one, whether it’s a kokanee or a trout, and he’s done a lot of fishing in Okanagan Lake as well as in many other lakes around the province.

This week, he’s over in the Kootenays at a bull trout derby, so I wasn’t able to connect with him.

However, he does say  the world record rainbow is about 60 pounds, caught in a  Saskatchewan lake last year.

And while it was no competition with Sutherland’s catch, it was a pretty exciting day during spring break for 15-year-old Dustin Pidherny of Summerland, who caught a 14-pound rainbow trout in Okanagan Lake.

There are definitely some decent-sized trout in the big lake, and the increased kokanee numbers certainly would have helped them reach such a size.

Most of the shore spawning kokanee are so small, even when they mature, that most anglers return them to the water.

That’s not recommended because they frequently don’t survive. But it’s the good numbers of these shore spawners that probably have contributed to growing great big trout like these.

That’s another good reason it’s really important we do all we can to bring back kokanee numbers in Okanagan Lake by improving both the shoreline habitat we’ve degraded, and by rehabilitating creek habitat so the stream spawner numbers grow as well.

Incidentally, be aware that new, stricter boating exam standards became the norm last week as Transport Canada moved to standardized testing for the mandatory Pleasure Craft Operator Card.

Operators of any motorized water vessel now are required to have a PCOC, and there’s a $250 fine for anyone caught operating a boat without one.

It’s all about preventing accidents, they say.

Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.





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