I wanted to take a few minutes to send out an update on some of the fishery issues throughout the region as summer wraps up. For those who don’t shift their focus to things with fur and feathers over the next couple of months, the fishing in area lakes and streams will be some of the best the year has to offer. I hope you have a chance to get out and enjoy it. There’ve been a few notable events and frequently asked questions that I thought I’d touch on.
One of the most frequent questions we’ve heard over the past month is “since when are there sockeye in Hayden Lake?” Being on this distribution list you probably already know that those “sockeye” are actually kokanee. We stocked kokanee in Hayden Lake in 2011 with the sole intent of trying to bolster the open water fishery, and boy has it worked well so far. As 2-year-old fish, the kokanee grew to 16-18 inches and created a popular fishery. Now that they’ve reached maturity, their bright red bodies, green heads, and humped backs have people mistaking them for their saltwater cousins. Spawning kokanee have been spotted around the lake, and we counted a couple hundred fish up Hayden Creek (including the one in the photo). For the most part, while interesting and fun to see, the spawning activity won’t likely have much of an impact on the population. September spawning kokanee generally need cold running tributaries to reproduce successfully. Though they may try to spawn along the lake shore, the relatively warm lake water temperatures cause embryos to hatch out prematurely. Successful lakeshore spawning is associated with a November/December strain of kokanee. Those fish spawning in Hayden Creek will likely fare better, but accessibility and low flows in late summer seem to limit the number of fish that are able to make their way into Hayden Creek. In the big scheme of things, it’s doubtful that there will be significant natural reproduction. That’s not a bad thing, however. The intent all along has been to manage numbers primarily by fingerling stocking. We stocked another 100,000 fingerling kokanee in 2012, and this year increased the number to 150,000. Anglers should continue to enjoy some good kokanee fishing in Hayden in the future.