Got a note this morning on the current status of the kokanee population on Lake Pend Oreille and it looks like continued good news. As you all know, Idaho Fish and Game began netting predatory lake trout in Pend Oreille in 2006 following the crash of the kokanee population and severe drops in the numbers of native fish and Gerrard rainbow trout. Those netting efforts have shown positive results in recent years, particularly in the numbers of popular kokanee salmon. Last year was the first year since 2000 that they were able to reopen a limited fishery for kokanee. This year they did an extensive survey of the lake shore areas and they are seeing a dramatic resurgence in kokanee which can be attributed to the netting program. Here’s the report from Andy Dux of IDFG and a great chart showing the continued explosion of the kokane population.
I wanted to update everyone on the status of kokanee spawning in Lake Pend Oreille. There is still some spawning activity occurring, but it is mostly completed and we have finished our annual surveys. We had a tremendous increase in the number of spawners this year. We estimated about 1.2 million spawners (hatchery and wild combined), which was by far the highest total since we started those estimates in 2000 (see attached graph). The hatchery trapping also went well and we collected 11.4 million eggs, which will essentially fill the Cabinet Gorge hatchery.
Last week we finished a visual survey of the entire shoreline of the lake. This was a more comprehensive survey than we’ve done in recent years because there finally are enough spawning fish to warrant this kind of effort. We saw a major expansion of spawning activity from predominately the southern bays (Scenic and Idlewilde) to many shoreline areas in the southern half of the lake. In addition, there was some spawning on the northern half of the lake, which has been rare for some time now.
Looks like a Merry Christmas indeed for fishermen on Lake Pend Oreille! Targeted netting does indeed pay off.