LETTER: Kootenay Lake should be teeming with kokanee

From reader Ron Retzlaff

Re: “Kokanee angling season on Kootenay Lake limited to four days in 2019,” April 4

I was sad to see the story regarding the reduction to four days of kokanee fishing in Kootenay Lake’s west arm this year. Sad, but not surprised, because I have fished in Nelson during the winter months for the last 45 years. Forty-five years ago we fished under the Nelson Bridge every day if we wanted to, and pretty much always caught our 15 fish a day limit. There were always lots of fish and fishermen. For the past decade or so fishing was reduced to two days per week, with a five fish daily limit. The fishing was less reliable, and less productive.

Twenty-two years ago, Fish and Wildlife decided to start dumping fertilizer into Kootenay Lake in response to low kokanee spawning numbers. Initially, the fertilizing seemed to work, and kokanee numbers increased in the main lake, but a few years ago the numbers suddenly, and precipitously, plummeted. The West Arm stock, however, was still considered strong enough to support a limited fishery. So we kept fishing.

I tried fishing in the West Arm at Nelson this winter. Whitefish were plentiful, but in at least 10 fishing trips, I didn’t even get a bite from a single kokanee, so I knew something was wrong. The article speaks of “uncertainty around current kokanee numbers.” Did the officials not notice that the kokanee had vanished in Nelson?

We are still dumping fertilizer in the main lake, and the numbers don’t seem to be rebounding. I am concerned that it is the fertilizer that is causing the problem. The initial improvement was the short-term gain, and we are now suffering the long-term pain.

The ministry, for its part, seems to be happy to blame the kokanee shortage on “too many predators.” If the problem was too many predators, the predators would be getting skinny by now, and the fishermen would have to hide behind a tree to bait their hooks. But, from what I hear, the predators are still fat, and not so numerous as to be easy to catch.

In my opinion we should close all kokanee fishing in the entire lake, stop dumping fertilizer in it, and see if a decade without our management doesn’t improve things. I don’t want to be the fisherman who reels in the last kokanee. Kootenay Lake is a big beautiful lake. It should be teeming with fish.

Rod Retzlaff


Just Posted

Kaslo bus fueled by vegetable oil to begin service next month

Mountain Man Mike’s will run routes to Vancouver and eventually Edmonton

Nelson to send two musicians to provincial Festival of The Arts

Lucas Alexander and Nico Bucher will compete in Chilliwack later this month

Police investigating felling of old cedars at Cottonwood Lake

One of the cedars was 300 to 450 years old

Safe boating event planned in Nelson on May 25

The event coincides with the National Safe Boating Awareness week

Kelowna RCMP interrogation video brings home reality in ‘visceral way’: former TRC chairman

Video of Mountie interrogating young Indigenous woman disclosing sexual abuse under fire

Canadian killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Former B.C. Greyhound bus drivers head to Penticton for goodbye party

Big bash runs until Sunday, funded by drink cans left behind on busses over the years

Boy, 12, arrested after allegedly pulling a knife on another child at a Surrey park

The child was later released into his parents’ custody as Surrey RCMP continue their investigation

Full-scale search underway for missing kayaker on Okanagan Lake

Kelowna Paddle Centre member Zygmunt Janiewicz, 71, failed to return from his ‘daily kayak’ on the lake

Most Read