Spawning numbers see increase

The good news is the highest number ever of shore spawning Okanagan Lake kokanee returned this fall to lay their eggs before dying.

The good news is the highest number ever of shore spawning Okanagan Lake kokanee returned this fall to lay their eggs before dying.

The bad news is there was the lowest return of stream spawning kokanee since the crash in kokanee populations in the big lake in the early 1990s, when only 6,000 to 7,000 were counted.

This fall, only 18,000 stream spawners returned to lay eggs, while 276,000 shore spawners flooded the shorelines around the lake, reports Paul Askey, fisheries stock assessment biologist with the ministry of forests, lands and natural resource operations in Penticton.

“They’re probably almost saturating the lake,” he commented. And, they could be giving the stream spawning kokanee stiff competition for available food in the lake too.

Askey says in some parts of the lake the shore spawners are like “urban kokanee. They’ve become hard to count amongst the docks jutting out into the lake,” he commented.

However, the size of the shore spawners is small. Most are around 23 centimetres in length, so they make great rainbow trout feed, but they’re not much sought-after by anglers. On the other hand, the stream spawners range in size, but average about 26 centimetres. Some can be 50 centimetres and lots are longer than 30, so they’re much more attractive to anglers.

He figures they range in age from three to five years, while the shore spawners are two or three.

With that number of kokanee in the lake, Askey is satisfied that the lake is doing well sustaining them, a concern that resulted in creation of a 20-year action plan in 1995 to work on bringing their numbers back up again.

One of the factors cited in the studies done as a result of that plan was the introduction of mysis shrimp in 1965, as feed for rainbow trout. It was found instead that the introduced crustacean actually out-competed young kokanee for feed in the lake.

“Mysis definitely knocked back the lake’s productivity, but they do show up in kokanee bellies,” commented Askey.

He wonders if kokanee are beginning to learn how to use them in their diet, now that their numbers are back up.

The numbers emerging from the spawning channel constructed in 1988 in Mission Creek, in the regional park off Springfield Road, are 36 per cent of the creek’s total numbers, while in 2010 they represented 42 per cent and in 2009 46 per cent. In 1992, the channel averaged 30 per cent of the creek’s returns.

However, in 1991, more than 94,000 kokanee returned to Mission Creek, while this year the total was a tenth of that, just 9,000. However, in 1998, only 1,000 were counted.

Although Mission Creek contributes the largest numbers of kokanee stream spawners into Okanagan Lake, numbers have also been low in other streams this fall, with 2,000 each counted in Peachland and Penticton Creeks, 1,200 in Powers Creek, and 600 in Trepanier Creek.

Although a decision hasn’t yet been made, Askey expects a summer kokanee fishery will be opened again in 2012 on Okanagan Lake.

A ban on fishing for kokanee was instituted in 1995 because of the crash in their numbers.

 

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

Imagine Kelowna’s future this week

Four community meetings will take place on the future of the city

Accidents mount as snow falls

Kelowna drivers are having a tough time with worsening conditions

Kelowna’s global awareness festival set to go

Festival organizers get $22,800 grant from federal government to help stage this year’s events

Bus slams into truck at Kelowna intersection

A transit bus and a pick-up truck came together in the noon hour in Kelowna

Downtown Kelowna shopping mall getting face lift

The Towne Centre Mall on Bernard will be renamed and renovated inside and out

Scandia Jungle mini golf course reopening

Kelowna - Rutland Elementary students were the first ones to try the revamped course Tuesday

Castlegar homicide victim identified

The victim was 38-year-old Jordan Workman of Castlegar, B.C.

B.C. Liberals get one last prime-time pitch

Leadership campaign to be decided in Feb. 3 vote

Letter: Dictatorships don’t happen by accident

Kelowna letter-writer says people following Donald Trump are enabling him

Team chaplain reflects on time with Silverbacks

Kenny Toews served as a mentor and spiritual leader to the team for six seasons

Drawings connect autistic student with the world

Leifen Mitchell-Banks creates colourful cartoon characters at Salmon Arm Secondary.

Lake Country skier named Olympic alternate

Ian Deans will be a back up for the men’s ski cross team in South Korea

Andrew Scheer on trade, Trump and Trudeau

Canada’s Conservative leader begins three-day visit to B.C.

10 Safeways in Lower Mainland to close, union says

Locations in Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, Coquitlam, Richmond and Mission slated to shut

Most Read