Eastern brook trout and Kokanee recently caught at the Co-Op Lake. In preparation for spawning, Kokanee develop the hooked type, their heads turn dark green and their bodies turn red. That is why this Kokanee (L) doesn’t look like some of the other fish spotted in the lake. (Submitted photo)

Kokanee in Co-op Lake a mistake, says angler

Lake better suited to brook trout

A Burns Lake angler says it’s a mistake for the provincial government to stock Co-op Lake with Kokanee.

Sheldon Daryliuk says the shallow nature of the lake isn’t conducive to Kokanee and that it’s best to stock the lake with more suitable brook trout.

Kokanee was introduced to Co-op Lake, east of Burns Lake, in 2017 with eastern brook trout being stocked there since 2010.

Last year 3,000 eastern brook trout were placed there and 2,600 Kokanee by a non-profit society which restocks bodies of water across the province under contract to the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

Daryliuk, an avid angler who frequently takes his grandchildren fishing, says he noticed the difference right away.

“That many Kokanee? That’s a waste of time. It should have been 10,000 brook trout,” he said. “They do much better at Co-op Lake.”

“Now Tchesinkut Lake, that’s a much better lake for Kokanee,” Daryliuk added of that lake which is deeper and colder.

Daryliuk was drawn to commenting on Co-op Lake stocking in looking at the photo accompanying a story on Co-op Lake stocking on the front page of the Jan. 8, 2020 issue of The Lakes District News.

“They’re red,” he said of the photo of Kokanee with dark green heads and a red body, the colours the fish take on in preparation for spawning.

“The red colour. That’s just not the best quality.”

Daryliuk says he’s not alone and that other anglers in the area have made similar comments.

A statement in response from the forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development ministry said stocking decisions are made by its biologists.

“Stocked Kokanee support popular fisheries in many lakes in B.C. They are appealing to stock with because they fish well in both winter and summer and are good table fare,” it said.

“As well, Kokanee can be produced in the hatchery as all-female sterile fish, which is advantageous because the number of fish in the lake can be controlled, which maintains fish growth.”

It said while people may think Kokanee are primarily present in large lakes, they also occur naturally in lakes smaller and shallower than Co-op Lake.

“Assessment at Co-op in past years suggested that the lake was sufficiently productive to support fisheries for both brook trout and Kokanee, and anglers often enjoy the variety of having multiple species to be harvested in a lake.”

The ministry did add it is aware of angler comments regarding the reddish colour of Kokanee as the “appearance is more typical of spawning salmon not considered good table fare.”

“Some sterile Kokanee develop these spawning characteristics, though they are not capable of reproducing. These Kokanee may be more likely present in shallower water where brook trout are commonly fished for,” it said.

“As Kokanee are an offshore, schooling fish, silvery Kokanee of better harvest quality are probably present in the mid-water zone of the deeper parts of Co-op Lake.”

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