A surge of spawners has produced some desperately needed encouragement for kokanee anglers at Lake Pend Oreille.
Hatchery crews handled about 70,000 fish to collect 14.8 million eggs at Sullivan Springs and Cabinet Gorge this season, the second-highest egg take ever. The effort should produce about 12 million fry for restocking the lake this summer.
Nevertheless, Idaho Fish and Game Department researchers are forecasting record low numbers of kokanee for the 1997 and 1998 spawning seasons. That’s bad news for trophy bull trout and rainbows that feed primarily on kokanee.
The problem, says Ned Horner, regional fisheries manager, is the Corps of Engineers’ insistence on deep winter drawdowns. Kokanee might have naturally produced another 185 million eggs if the lake’s spawning beds hadn’t been left high and dry, he said.
Higher winter lake levels are still opposed by the corps and the Bonneville Power Administration.