Steeves/Trail Mix: Wood Lake problems being investigated

Diminishing number of fish in one of Canada's top kokanee fisheries, Wood Lake, are being investigated by the environment ministry and ONA.

Although there haven’t been rafts of dead fish found floating on the water, there’s definitely something wrong in Wood Lake, with anglers reporting far less success in fishing there in the past 10 months.

It’s something that’s being taken very seriously by biologists at the ministry because Wood Lake is the number one wild kokanee fishery in the country, with more angling effort there than anywhere else.

Biologist Paul Askey says the acoustic trawl they did there last August indicated numbers were way down, and angler accounts have confirmed that.

He’s just hoping it’s something that can be reversed.

Ultimately, he figures it’s related to the increase in people around the lake, with the attendant increase in nutrients from lawn fertilizers and farms, storm drains and other sources.

But, that growth has occurred over decades, so something must have pushed it past the tipping point in the past year or so, he figures.

It’s lucky efforts were already underway on some projects funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation to look into the situation on Wood Lake, with egg-to-fry survival counts being done by the Okanagan Nation Alliance, along with securing a reliable water supply for Middle Vernon Creek.

Hopefully, that work will resolve the problems so fishing will improve.

Meanwhile, a youth fly fishing event is being organized by Bethany Froehlich of the Peachland Sportsman’s Association at Shannon Lake in West Kelowna on Sat., June 2 for anyone 10 to 18 years of age. Fishing rods will be provided for those without a fly rod, but if you have your own, please bring it. Along with casting, you can learn to tie your own flies.

Shannon Lake has been stocked with catchable trout, with a bay netted off for the use of  youngsters, but those over 16 will need to have a current fishing licence. There’ll be a barbecue for the event as well.

 

 

B.C. Nature

Naturalists from around the province gathered at Okanagan College last week for meetings and field trips, culminating in a fabulous banquet catered by the students of the Culinary Arts program Saturday night.

Following the meal West Kelowna’s Pat Westheuser was recognized for her decades of service to the community with the highest award given out by B.C. Nature, the umbrella organization of naturalists’ clubs.

Since Pat is awards committee chair, it was quite the challenge keeping the news a secret, but they managed, and she was surprised when it was announced she would receive the Elton Anderson Award. It was much deserved as Pat has served in most executive posts locally, been a director on the provincial organization and been instrumental in keeping the Young Naturalists’ program going—as well as working with Okanagan Guiding for years. Thanks for all your efforts and congratulations!

Incidentally, the club will be conducting the annual Okanagan Mountain Park Bird and Critter Count the weekend of May 26 and 27, watching for mountain and western bluebirds, olive-sided flycatchers, canyon wrens and white-throated swifts, as well as other wildlife.

If you’re interested in helping out, contact Les Gyug at 769-5907.

Such counts are important to establish trends and provide data on the health of the ecosystem in the area.

Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com