Three South Cariboo lakes are being tapped by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC (FFSBC) for their population of large-bodied kokanee to enhance recreational fisheries around the province and conservation efforts at Kootenay Lake.
For the past five years, the FFSBC have been harvesting eggs from spawning kokanee in Deka Lake, Bridge Lake and Sulphurous Lake near 100 Mile House every fall to help replenish kokanee stocks for recreational fishing at more than four dozen B.C. lakes. Additionally, in the last two years kokanee eggs harvested from those lakes have also contributed to the rebuilding of the Kootenay Lake population that has plummeted in recent years.
“It’s a really good news story on both fronts,” said Tim Yesaki, Vice President of Operations for FFSBC, referring to the dual purpose the lakes’ kokanee are serving, including enhancing recreational kokanee stocks.
Yesaki said the popularity of kokanee fishing has really taken off over the past few years because of its appeal as a family fishery, noting typically trout fisheries occur in the spring and fall, but wane in the summertime when families want to be on vacation.
“The trout fishery kind of goes into the doldrums and fishing isn’t any good, but kokanee fisheries, they get really good in the summer when the weather is hot and you can catch a lot of them and they’re willing biters. Families just love them. The government is recognizing it’s a real bonus to have kokanee fisheries around the province as it really attracts families.”
In the fall workers harvest eggs from the spawning Cariboo kokanee and bring them back to the hatchery at Clearwater.
There, some eggs will be incubated and grown over the winter to be released for the recreational fisheries. Other, eyed eggs will be transferred over to tributaries of Kootenay Lake to help the population there recover.
In 2017 FFSBC released 10.2 million kokanee fry and eggs into 52 lakes in B.C. — 1.4 million fry were stocked into lakes for recreational purposes while 8.8 million kokanee eggs were placed into Kootenay Lake tributaries.
In all, 15 Cariboo area lakes, such as Horse Lake, McLeese Lake, Ten Mile Lake and Timothy Lake, were stocked with 780,000 kokanee fry last year.