Outdoors blog

Kokanee revival forecast at Dworshak Reservoir

The kokanee limit has been increased to 15 fish at Lake Coeur d'Alene. (Rich Landers)
The kokanee limit has been increased to 15 fish at Lake Coeur d'Alene. (Rich Landers)

FISHING -- Dworshak Reservoir’s kokanee fishery surprised anglers in 2012, as notoriously small kokanee finally showed some size. The fish were growing to the 13-inch range in response to the nutrient enhancement project Idaho Fish and Game and the Corps of Engineers have been conducting since 2007 to make up for the lack of feed in the reservoir’s deep waters.

This year – depending on overwinter survival that has yet to be determined -- biologists expect twice as many two year-old fish in the fishery reaching even heftier sizes.

“The fish anglers are catching right now are running about 10-11 inches long,” Andy Dux, IFG biologist, said last week. “Those fish should be 12-15 inches long by this summer and be abundant enough to provide good catch rates.”

Here’s some science anglers can sink their teeth into: “Past research shows that as kokanee get larger, they are easier to catch,” Dux said.

The water fertilizing project was stalled in 2011 because of a lawsuit a citizen brought regarding its impacts on water quality.  That resolved, the nutrient project resumed in 2012 and the fish appear to be responding.

Dworshak’s kokanee fishery picks up as water temperatures warm, with good fishing from spring through summer.

The trick at Dworshak is to follow the fish, which progressively move farther up the 54-mile reservoir during summer toward their fall spawning areas, Dux said.

In spring, most anglers launch at Big Eddy near the dam since the fishing is best in the lower reservoir upstream for about 10 miles.

As summer progresses, more anglers will launch at Dent Acres recreation facility 13-miles upstream from the dam to get into the good fishing.

  • See the attached document for a detailed 2013 update of the Dworshak Reservoir nutrient enhancement project.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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