September 25, 2013 - 2:22 PM
PENTICTON - It's instinct for fish to follow the river upstream to spawn, and every year B.C. fishers and wildlife enthusiasts seem to be following their own as they line the railing where Penticton Creek passes North Street to watch the kokanee. It's the kind of thing the Penticton Fly Fishers want for Ellis Creek.
At North Street, two men were leaning against the railing where the creek passes. A young person was leaning over a fence to look into the water. A few more peered over a foot bridge. They were all watching the flashing orange fish swimming up the creek on Tuesday, stopping at rest pools, before climbing the underwater ladders built for them by their human benefactors. It's all in an effort to reach the place they were born, or where they were placed as infant fish.
Penticton Fly Fishers Club member Phil Rogers wants to see stream-spawned kokanee return to Skaha Lake. The water body already has plenty of shoreline spawners. These are kokanee who were born along the shore and have it easy. Stream spawn kokanee are larger two-pound salmon who have to muscle their way upstream and back to the places where they were born or where they were released.
The plan is to raise 100,000 kokanee eggs at the defunct Penticton Creek hatchery, up by the city's waste water treatment plant. The eggs will come from the Okanagan River channel and, when grown large enough, will be released into Ellis Creek. Rogers gave a small tour of the building and points out the repair work that took place.
Rogers says the land-locked "salmon have been here before us" and it seemed right to boost their numbers. People who fish also prefer the larger stream spawners.
The 50-member fishing club received provincial approval for the restoration project, gear and assistance from a Summerland fish hatchery and free electricity and water from the City of Penticton. Now all they need are thousands of fertilized eggs to grow in upwelling jars. Once the project is underway and they have success under their belt the club hopes the B.C. Federation of Fly Fishers will offer a grant for further restoration efforts.
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