Kootenay Lake fishery needs your help: BCWF
Despite the efforts of fisheries biologists who manage the Kootenay Lake fishery, the conditions have not substantially improved during the last few years. In what can only be described as a collapse of this world-class fishery, local biologists have gone to great lengths to improve fishing. More needs to be done.
The short version of what happened is this: the highly successful lake fertilization program that has been on-going since 1992 did turn around the diminishing kokanee population of the late 1980s that saw numbers at Meadow Creek fall to less than 200,000.
Once fertilization began, kokanee spawner numbers rebounded with increased numbers of over one million. This success was followed by increased predator (rainbow and bull trout) numbers that by the late 2000s were at historical high numbers.
As with any predator-prey relationship a balance can be struck and this was the case until then. Fishing on the lake was phenomenal for well over 10 years. Unfortunately the recovery of the fishery to that similar to the 1960s and 1970s was short-lived; ironically because the fishery recovery was too successful.
Local BC Wildlife Federation (BCWF) club President Gord Grunerud stated, ”Too many predators were produced and they began to eat themselves out of house and home.”
By about 2012, kokanee numbers began to decline with less than 20,000 counted at Meadow Creek during the last two years.
Ministry biologists reacted to the kokanee decline by continuing the fertilization program and by planting massive numbers of kokanee eggs at Meadow Creek with over 10 million planted in the fall of 2017. However, lake surveys indicate this action alone may not be enough.
“The number of predators remain high despite the ministry’s efforts and further action is required. Predator numbers, especially bull trout, need to be temporarily reduced in order for the kokanee recovery to be successful. Continued egg plants and reduction of predator numbers is required,” said BCWF President Harvey Andrusak.
Anglers can help by retaining their catch as a short-term measure aimed at reducing predator numbers. Bull trout spawner numbers remain high and conservation is not a concern.
Local anglers are encouraged to get out on the lake and enjoy fishing and keeping their bull trout catch.
Lead image: Kootenay Lake. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW photo
Submitted by the BC Wildlife Federation