In an effort to support long-term kokanee conservation efforts, regulated bull trout harvest is now allowed in two areas. The Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development have increased the daily quota for bull trout from zero to two on the Duncan River, downstream of where it converges with the Lardeau River. That’s from October 5 to March 31, 2019. The seasonal no-fishing regulation for the north end of the main body of Kootenay Lake has also been lifted.
The Ministry says increasing bull trout harvest is consistent with recommendations in the Kootenay Lake Action Plan to recover kokanee stocks. The bull trout rely on kokanee as a food source and population and diet trends indicate bull trout are contributing to kokanee mortality rates that are much higher than normal.
Historically, the number of spawning kokanee in Kootenay Lake ranged from 250,000 to nearly 2.2 million. There was a decline to 18,000 in 2017. Ministry biologists assess populations of kokanee, bull trout and Gerrard rainbow trout annually to monitor recovery status.
Reducing bull trout populations and continued stocking of kokanee eggs, is a short-term strategy to improve recovery.