Fall 2017 surveys of kokanee in main valley Okanagan lakes show fluctuating numbers, according to Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development biologists.
The Wood Lake kokanee population continues 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 2017, over 34,000 kokanee returned to the tributaries of Wood Lake to spawn. Given the high number of returning kokanee, the ministry will continue to allow a fishery on Wood Lake from April 1 to Aug. 31, 2018. Ministry staff are working collaboratively with the District of Lake Country, Oceola Fish and Game Club, and the Okanagan Indian Band to improve spawning conditions in Middle Vernon Creek.
Routine surveys of fish returning to spawn along the main valley shorelines and lake tributaries help the ministry monitor the health of the fishery and set angling regulations. The 2017 results indicate:
- Okanagan Lake kokanee spawners totalled 182,500. Stream-spawning kokanee totalled 28,500 and shore-spawning kokanee totalled 154,000 fish. These returns approximate the 10-year average return.
- In Kalamalka Lake, kokanee numbers totalled 67,000. This is the highest return on record, and the run was largely dominated by shore-spawning kokanee.
- In Skaha Lake, kokanee and sockeye numbers totalled 32,000.
Kokanee are landlocked 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.