FISHING -- Take it from the record number of bald eagles that gathered to feast on spawning salmon this winter: The kokanee have made a comeback at Lake Coeur d'Alene.
The turn-around has been dramatic, Idaho Fish and Game fisheries biologists say in a just-released report, and prospects for the 2011 fishing season are bright!
Read on for details.
Lake Coeur d'Alene's kokanee abundance was dangerously low between 2006 and 2008 due to a combination of factors, including high spring runoff and excessive predation. The result was a density of about 1.2 dult (3-year-old) kokanee per acre of water, which is very low for a kokanee population.
"Fishermen had trouble finding fish during the summer when the kokanee were spread out," said the report authored by Jim Fredericks, regional fisheries manager. "Because of the low numbers, we had to close the fishery to protect spawning adults in some years.
"The population improved in 2009, when we estimated about 14 adult kokanee per acre. This past fall it was even better with adult kokanee densities of about 21 per acre, or a total of just over a half million adult fish.
"We also estimated there were 1.6 million 2-year-old kokanee that will be adults this year. The high densities combined with the increased limit of 15 kokanee per angler per day, should make for a good kokanee fishery in 2011."
Anglers know that as kokanee numbers go up, the size of kokanee goes down. But they still should be pleased this year.
"The average size of the adult kokanee was 10.5 inches — that is smaller than the last few years but pretty typical for a northern Idaho kokanee, and right on target," Fredericks said.