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Kokanee “stocked” in streets of Colville

FISHING — Kokanee by the bucket full were in the streets of Colville Wednesday afternoon after a truck from the Spokane Tribal Fish Hatchery had a close call with a motorist at the town's roundabout.

The truck belonging to the Spokane Tribe was transporting fish to be raised to larger size at the Sherman Creek Hatchery operated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

Here's the scoop — an accurate word in this case — from Tim Peone, Spokane Tribal Fish Hatchery manager:

Apparently an errant “young lady” driver unbeknownst of the roundabout rules pulled out in front of our planting truck causing the driver to lock up the brakes. The sloshing water broke a hinge off a lid spilling 24.7 pounds of kokanee @ 14.4 fish/pound equaling roughly 356 fish out of a load of 12,000 fish. 

Yup I made him pick them all up (with the help of city crew, I heard).

From all reports, the kokanee were collected of the street before the area walleye anglers could gather them up for bait.

Pend Oreille “State of the Lake” fisheries meeting Feb. 22

FISHING — The Lake Pend Oreille Fishery Recovery Task Force and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will update the status of trout and kokanee in Lake Pend Oreille at the annual “State of the Lake” public meeting next week.

to discuss the status of fish populations in Lake Pend Oreille, the progress of the fishery recovery effort, and potential rule changes for 2013. 

The meeting is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday Feb. 22 at the Ponderay Events Center by the Bonner Mall north of Sandpoint. 

Wisconsin-based lake trout expert Mike Hansen will offer his perspective on the progress of the program to control lake trout and restore the Pend Oreilee kokanee fishery. 

Presentations will summarize the 2011 predator removal efforts, including lake trout netting, telemetry, and the Angler Incentive Program, and the response of the lake’s fishery to the recovery effort. 

Info: (208) 769-1414. 

Spirit Lake kokanee bonanza going untapped

WINTER FISHING — Ice anglers in North Idaho should be cleaning upon the record number of mature kokanee in Spirit Lake this winter – except they can’t get to the fish.

Idaho Fish and Game Department reports from August trawling surveys say “the most abundant year class of kokanee ever documented for this lake” is swimming around virtually unscathed.

“The strong year class of one year old kokanee last year is now a record high year class of two year old kokanee,” the report said, estimating there would be more than 382,000 kokanee averaging at least 8.25 inches waiting for anglers when the ice fishing opportunities began this winter.

That pencils out to about 260 catchable-sized fish for each acre of water, or about four times as many kokanee as last year!

But the ice-fishing hasn’t happened.

“It’s a shame for ice fishermen,” said Jim Fredericks, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager. “The east end of the lake has had enough ice for fishing on a couple of occasions, but that’s not really where the kokanee fishing is.”

The bulk of the lake has remained ice-free.  Sure, the season’s open year-round and you could fish from a boat, except there’s just enough ice around the edges to thwart boat-launching.

“Maybe we still have a chance for a good cold snap to get ice fishermen out off Silver Beach or Bronze Bay – the best winter kokanee fishing places,” he said.

“If not, there will be a great kokanee fishery waiting for handliners and jiggers off the cliff at the east end this spring,” he said.

Bald eagles finally flocking to Lake CdA for annual feast

WILDLIFE WATCHING – A week can make a big difference in the numbers of bald eagles gathering for their annual feast of spawning kokanee at Lake Coeur d’Alene.

On Tuesday, the season's second weekly eagle count at Wolf Lodge Bay tallied a whopping 76 bald eagles, said BLM wildlife biologist Carrie Hugo. That compares with 64 eagles counted on the same date last year.

That's exciting news for birdwatchers, considering that 2010 was a record year for the migration, with a peak of 254 eagles counted in the bay during the BLM survey on Dec. 21. 

Tuesday's count indicated a big swing in eagle movements. The first survey of the season on Nov. 22 found only 12 bald eagles compared with 42 counted on the same day in 2010.

Top viewing areas are from Higgens Point as well as south from the Wolf Lodge Exit off I-90 on Highway 97 around to Beauty Bay.

  • Read more details tomorrow in my Thursday Outdoors column regarding eagles and how they might be be linked to the numbers of kokanee in the region's lakes.

Idaho has its own version of Lake Rufus Woods rainbows

FISHING —  Pigs. 

That's the best way to  describe the North Fork of the Clearwater rainbow trout that have tuned in to the feast of kokanee that come over and down through Dworshak Dam.

Read on for the story by Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune.

Kokanee rebounding in Lake Pend Oreille

FISHERIES —  Kokanee numbers in Lake Pend Oreille are rebounding, helping placate worries that flooding this spring would put a dent in the coveted game fish's population.

The landlocked salmon is showing the highest spawning numbers since 2004, according to an Idaho Fish and Game Department report summarized by the Associated Press. Current estimates show there are as many as 382,000 spawning kokanee in Lake Pend Oreille tributaries.

Fishing for kokanee once again has moved from a dream to a possibility, department officials said.

The flooding in the 1990s was sudden and intense, while this year's flooding was spread out over weeks.

That likely means the kokanee didn't get flushed out of the lake during spring floods.

“This year's runoff wasn't exceptionally high, but it lasted several weeks, which is a different scenario than the very high-magnitude, but short-duration floods of 1996-97,” said Jim Fredericks, Fish & Game's regional fishery manager.

Idaho's wildlife agency also says its work eradicating lake trout and rainbow trout that prey on kokanee is also helping.

More than 115,000 lake trout, introduced to the lake in 1925, have been removed from the lake through netting and angler incentives between 2006 and 2010. The number of kokanee that spawn has increased annually since predator-removal efforts started.

In 2000, kokanee fishing was closed in the lake as the fish's population dwindled. Since then, the kokanee's numbers have risen.

“If the upward trend we are seeing continues, I'm optimistic that we'll have a real shot at re-opening the kokanee fishery again within the next couple of years,” said Andy Dux, a principal Fish & Game biologist working on the lake.

Jury’s out on impacts to kokanee at North Idaho’s big lakes

FISHING– High lake levels and prolonged heavy out flows this year are reason for worry about the kokanee fisheries at Pend Oreille and Coeur d’Alene lakes.

What are the impacts? “The short answer is that we don’t know, and we won’t for a couple more months,” said Jim Fredericks, Idaho Fish and Game Department Panhandle fisheries manager.

Read on for details on why he’s cautiously optimistic.

Anglers defy drawdown at Koocanusa Derby

FISHING — Despite the extremely low water level of 121 feet below full pool and only 3 ramps accessible for anglers, 373 contestants in 192 boats competed in the 9th annual Trout and Salmon Derby out of Lake  Koocanusa Resort last weekend.

Doug Florey of Bonners Ferry won the event’s top Trout Division prize of $2,088 with 11 pounds of fish.

Second Place, $1,492, went to Max Schnader of Troy, Mont., with 9.4 pounds.

Very few Kokanee were caught, owing to the cool weather and layr development of nutrients in the lake, according to Randie and Randy Burch,  the resort’s owners and contest sponsors.

The competition, however, was incredibly close.

Bobby George of Priest River won first place prize of $746 in the Salmon Division with 20 kokanee weighing  3.8 pounds.

Second place, $448, went to Neil Norman of Kellogg  with 3.6 pounds.  Third place,  $299, went to Vern Gregg of Potlatch with 3.5 pounds.

Kokanee limits temporarily removed below Dworshak

FISHING — Kokanee limits were lifted starting Saturday BELOW Dworshak Dam to give anglers a chance to harvest fish that are otherwise being sucked into the dam.

NOTE: My previous post erred by suggesting the limits were lifted in the reservoir. That's not so:  The order targets only the spillage of kokanee through the dam.

With many dead and dying kokanee been flushed through Dworshak Dam, the bag and possession limits will be removed for kokanee in the North Fork Clearwater River and Clearwater River downstream of the North Fork in Clearwater County  March 12-May 15, Idaho Fish and Game announced this afternoon. 

While anglers can take home as many kokanee as they can carry, the fish may only be taken by rod and reel, dip net or by hand.  AnIdaho fishing license is required. 

Kokanee, which are a popular target of anglers fishing at Dworshak Reservoir, tend to congregate near the dam during winter. When mountain snowpacks are abundant and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dumps water to make room from spring runoff, the fish are susceptible to being washed downstream.  

At this point, the number of kokanee being flushed is not expected to have a large influence on next year’s fishery, IFG biologists say.

Why fish for kokanee at Roosevelt?

FISHING — Frank Whitney holds up one of the reasons anglers might want to pursue kokanee at Lake Roosevelt

Whitney caught this beefy 23-incher — weighing 4 pounds, 3 ounces — while fishing over the weekend out of Keller.

His friend, Eldon Wagner, wasn't quite as lucky earlier in the week.

 “I went out with a neighbor last Tuesday and we caught two  nice rainbows from shore at Sterling Point Camp Ground and froze,” Wagner said. “I will take my boat the next time and anchor near shore and turn the heat on.” 

Gear up for CdA kokanee fishing

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.

Wallowa kokanee top fish for 2010?

FISHING — As I research the top outdoor stories of 2010, the series of record kokanee caught this year from Oregon's Wallowa Lake comes readily to the surface.

Can anyone in the Inland Northwest top the story of Ron Campbell of La Grande, Ore., who landed a 9.67-pound kokanee on June 13 in the northeastern Oregon lake?

The fish was later verified by the International Game Fish Association as the world record in two categories:  the 22-year-old all-tackle record and the largest fish recorded in the 12-pound test line class.