Kokanee numbers for main valley Okanagan lakes are increasing, fall 2015 survey results show.
The Wood Lake kokanee population continued to demonstrate signs of recovery after poor in-lake conditions led to a significant increase in mortality rates for kokanee of all ages in 2011. In 2015, over 20,000 kokanee returned to spawn to Middle Vernon Creek, the main tributary of Wood Lake. This represents over a two-fold increase from previous years. Given the high number of returning kokanee, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations will continue to allow a fishery on Wood Lake from April 1 to Aug. 31 in 2016.
Results from the routine spawner surveys of Okanagan main valley shorelines and lake tributaries help ministry staff monitor the health of the fishery and set angling regulations.
The results show:
* Okanagan Lake kokanee spawners totalled 336,500, an increase from 80,500 last year – and the highest return since annual counts began in 1992. This large return was primarily a result of an increase in shore spawning kokanee. Stream-spawning kokanee totalled 31,500 and shore-spawning kokanee totalled 305,000 fish.
* In Kalamalka Lake, kokanee numbers totalled 36,500, well above the 10-year average return of 20,000. This represents an above-average return.
Kokanee salmon are land-locked sockeye salmon found in all of the Okanagan main valley lakes. They represent a fishery resource and an important part of the natural ecosystem. The ministry and its partners will continue efforts to restore spawning and rearing habitats and ensure the long-term health of kokanee populations.