Take it from the record number of bald eagles that gathered to feast on spawning salmon this winter: Kokanee have made a comeback at Lake Coeur d’Alene.
The turn-around has been dramatic, said Jim Fredericks, Idaho Fish and Game fisheries manager.
While Lake Pend Oreille kokanee numbers are improving, the ban on catching them continues. However, Priest Lake anglers, for the first time in years, will be able to keep kokanee they might hook.
The new rules that debut in Idaho this year call for a 15-kokanee limit pretty much across the board at all Panhandle region lakes.
“That doesn’t mean we think many people will be able to catch a limit of kokanee at Priest – the numbers are thin – but we just want to keep the rule simple,” said Jim Fredericks, Idaho Fish and Game Department Panhandle fisheries manager.
However, catching a limit at Lake Coeur d’Alene is a good possibility, he said.
Lake Coeur d’Alene’s kokanee abundance was dangerously low between 2006 and 2008 from a combination of factors, including high spring runoff and excessive predation, he said. The daily catch limit was reduced to six.
The number of adult kokanee improved nearly 14-fold last year and was nearly 21 times greater during last fall’s survey.
The high densities have allowed the limit to increase to 15 kokanee a day.
“The average size of the adult kokanee will be smaller this year – 9-10 inches –because there will be more fish,” he said.
Other waters in North Idaho ripe with kokanee include Spirit, Mirror and Hauser lakes.
Dworshak Reservoir is a top kokanee producer in the Clearwater region, where the daily kokanee limit is 25.
Washington kokes: Washington’s top area waters for kokanee include Loon, Banks and Roosevelt lakes.