--Message from Regional Biologist:
"We have now opened up Okanagan Lake kokanee permanently. Kokanee regulations on Okanagan Lake have now reverted back to standard regional regulations for kokanee (5 per day per angler). The fishery is officially open as of April 1st of this year (sorry for the delay in this email message). You can see in-season regulation updates for any region at the Ministry regulations website "
To summarize the last two decades for Okanagan Lake kokanee:
Kokanee numbers declined dramatically in the late 1990s (spawner abundance under 3% of the 1970s levels)
The decline in abundance was associated with several factors, and it is difficult to tease apart the relative influence of each factor (disease issues, poor water management, decline in lake nutrients, competition with mysis shrimp, spawning habitat degradation).
There are two types of kokanee: streamspawners and shorespwners that use different spawning habitat. Since both populations declined together, initial indications were that the limiting factor was likely occurring within the lake (as opposed to spawning habitat).
Management actions have been: fishery closure, improved water management in streams and lake levels, maintenance of a spawning channel, spawning habitat and implementation of a mysis fishery.
There has been a steady recovery in kokanee spawners during the last decade, and we are back to an overall abundance similar to the early 1990s. However, the recovery is favouring the shorespawning stock, and it appears as though shorespawners are outcompeting the highly value streamspawing stock. The lack of recovery of streamspawners is still a concern, and a high priority for future management actions. Shorespawners tend to be quite small, whereas streamspawners can grow to large sizes.
Monitoring of the fishery during recent years, has indicated that there is very little fishing pressure on kokanee and that harvest rates are extremely low (<<5%). Given these low harvest rates, there is no need to have specialized restrictive regulations on fishery harvest.
As a final note, anglers should expect to catch large numbers of small kokanee in Okanagan Lake. High-grading (releasing small kokanee and keeping big ones) would not be considered a responsible use of fish because: typically you will catch many, many smaller ones (shorespawners) between larger ones (streamspawners); survival probability of released kokanee appears much lower than most species given easy descaling and softer mouth tissues; harvesting only large kokanee would put more harvest pressure on the “weak” streamspawning stock. They all taste good, so if you are kokanee fishing, please just take them as they come and encourage others to do the same.
Hope you have a great fishing season,.. NOTE: this message copied from note recieved from Paul Askey PHD, RPBio.. Penticton
--For me this is both exciting and sad...the majority of icreased numbers come from shore spawn kokanee... creek spawn (the big ones that made Okanagan famous) have not recovered but seem to be not decining further.
--Please come to the Okanagan and try this fishery.. we need publicity and support for this important program...