Category Archives: fish

Fishing Regulations Reminder for the Kettle, West Kettle, and the Granby Rivers

Is it possible to have a Flood and drought in the same year? Yes.  Absolutely. As we know, the lack of rain in the boundary has created drought like conditions.  That said, drought restrictions from the province have not yet been put in place for this area.  The Kettle, the West Kettle and the Granby rivers, however, are all on the provincial watch list which means that they are being closely monitored and water restrictions could still be enforced this fall.

A major concern that the province has is fish kills and the long-term sustainability of fish populations.  Rainbow trout have been studied over multiple years and the fishery has deteriorated.  Findings conclude that fewer and smaller rainbow trout are found throughout boundary rivers.  Causes include decreased habitat for the fish, decreases in flow, increases in water temperatures, and overfishing.  As a result of fish population studies, more stringent fishing regulations were put in place in 2015 for rainbow trout.  In summary: fishing in the Kettle and West Kettle is catch and release only, no fishing from July 25 and August 25 and a live bait ban from Apr. 1 – Oct. 31.  In the Granby upstream of Burrell Creek, the bait ban is from Apr. 1-Oct. 31 with a daily limit of 1 trout.  Downstream of Burrell Creek, catch and release only and a bait ban from July 1 – Oct. 31.  These new regulations are designed to ensure future generations are afforded the same recreational opportunities that we enjoy and appreciate today.

Shawn Lockhart releasing rainbow back to the river (Credit Shawn Lockhart)Shawn Lockhart releasing rainbow back to the river (Credit Shawn Lockhart).

Click Fishing Regulations to obtain the most up to date regulations for the boundary region.  Alternatively a hard copy can be obtained at Service  BC.

– Jessica Mace is the coordinator of the Kettle River Watershed Management Plan for the RDKB, and is working with the Kettle River Watershed Authority to implement recommendations from the plan. Email plan@kettleriver.ca

Province issues water conservation letters to licence holders

Dry side channel of Kettle River west of Grand Forks (Graham Watt photo)

Amid level 4 drought, Province issues letters to water licencees in Kettle River. From the letter:

Responding to the continued dry conditions, the Province of BC is announcing a Level 4 drought for the Kettle watershed based on declining steam flows. Aligning with the Provincial Drought Response Plan, the target under Drought Level 4 conditions is defined as increased voluntary conservation, potential restrictions and regulatory actions if required. All licensed surface water users are reminded of the 30% voluntary reduction from the Level 3 Drought letter sent July 20, 2015 and are advised regulatory actions are being prepared in the event these conditions continue…

Groundwater extraction from aquifers that are hydrologically connected to a stream generally include wells completed in unconfined sand and gravel aquifers where the intake is not separated from the surface water body by a confining (e.g. clay) layer. Your voluntary compliance in reducing use from these sources is important for maintaining cool groundwater inputs into streams in the Kettle watershed this summer, and for preventing long-term groundwater level declines in the aquifer.

Copy of letter: http://kettleriver.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Kettle-Level-4-Letter-final-July-29-2014.pdf

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Kettle River Q&A – Small fish with a big role for the Kettle River

Unless you are really into fish, you have probably not heard of the Speckled Dace.

The Speckled Dace (Rhinichthys osculus) is a small minnow (5-9 cm) that is relatively abundant in the Kettle River watershed and in many waterways in the western United States.

The Speckled Dace is a small minnow found in the Kettle River watershed and western United States. Illustration by Nichola Lytle, Pink Dog Designs
The Speckled Dace is a small minnow found in the Kettle River watershed and western United States. Illustration by Nichola Lytle, Pink Dog Designs

But the Kettle River system is the only place in Canada that the Speckled Dace occurs, and if its Canadian population were to be severely harmed, the presence of Cascade Falls would prevent it from naturally returning to the watershed. This fact has led to the listing of the Speckled Dace as Endangered in Schedule 1 of Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA).

Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Province of British Columbia are currently working on a Recovery Strategy for the Speckled Dace. The draft strategy, released for public consultation this fall, identified critical habitat areas in the West Kettle near Beaverdell, the main Kettle in the Christian Valley, and the Granby River near Burrell Creek. The main strategies are to improve key knowledge on the life cycle and habitat use of Speckled Dace and maintain current distribution and abundance within natural ranges.

Several studies have confirmed that Speckled Dace are widely distributed in the watershed, with a population of over 900,000 mature fish. It makes use of riffles, runs and pools, eating aquatic insects and algae with its sucker-like mouth. Little is known about their spawning behaviour, but it is thought to occur in mid-July, with fry appearing in early August.

Some of the main threats to Speckled Dace are low river flows and siltation from road building, forestry, and livestock access. According to Lesley Peterson, a biologist with Trout Unlimited Canada in Calgary, “these issues are also detrimental to Rainbow Trout which not only require cold, clean water but also healthy and functioning riparian areas.”

The geographic isolation has also made the population upstream of Cascade Falls genetically unique. But apart from that most anglers would find their greatest value in their place in the food chain for larger fish-eating predators like adult rainbow trout.

Because of their interest in supporting healthy aquatic ecosystems and rainbow trout in the Kettle River, the Okanagan Chapter of Trout Unlimited Canada is supporting projects in the Kettle River, in partnership with the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, Golder Associates, Granby Wilderness Society, and other partners.

Through the efforts of their Okanagan Chapter, Trout Unlimited Canada has received funding through the RBC Blue Water Project to conduct enhancement and restoration projects along the Kettle River system. “Through education, stewardship, and on-the-ground projects, our goal is to improve the outlook for not only Speckled Dace, but Rainbow Trout and the Kettle River itself,” said Peterson.

The team is currently identifying potential project sites and preparing background information on sediment reduction and riparian habitat restoration. They are applying for further funding to support the project but would like to initiate work in at least one site by the spring of 2015.

—Graham Watt is coordinator of the Kettle River Watershed Management Plan for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary. Contact Graham at plan@kettleriver.ca or 250.442.4111.

Grand opening set for Sockeye hatchery in Penticton

A very exciting story from our neighbouring watershed to the west, and  one major step of the larger salmon recovery program for the Columbia River Basin. Contributed from Okanagan Nation Alliance, September 17, 2014

Penticton British Columbia, Okanagan Nation Territory: The k] cp?’lk’ stim’ Salmon Hatchery, part of the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) sockeye reintroduction program, will have its Grand Opening on September 20th at 1pm. The hatchery is located on the Penticton Indian Band reserve lands at 155 Enowkin Trail, Penticton, BC.

“The return of Okanagan Sockeye to our fishing grounds used to be only a dream”, says Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, “in the summer of 2010 we witnessed the salmon come back in the numbers not seen for 100 years. The work of supporting the sockeye is ongoing and continues with this new hatchery, another aspect of our collective assertion to have a rightful place in the ongoing stewardship of our lands and resources.” We have demonstrated our approach and success to restore salmon in the Okanagan.  The ONA and Colville Confederated Tribes (CCT) will continue our success for salmon restoration in the Upper Columbia above Chief Joseph Dam and Grand Coulee into Canada.

This hatchery is a testament to the perseverance of the Syilx people to realize their dream of restoring the n’titxw (Salmon), one of our Four Food Chiefs, to their original habitat and rightful place in our territory.  This hatchery represents a critical stage of our Nation’s restoration initiative. It is a historical moment for our people.  After many years, this new hatchery on the Okanagan River system is ready for the 2014 broodstock season.

The hatchery facility is part of a long-term program to restore the historical range of Sockeye in the upper Okanagan watershed, Okanagan Lake, and Skaha Lake systems, a region of the Columbia River Basin. This facility is funded primarily by the Grant and Chelan Public Utility Districts, Washington, USA.

The 25,000 square foot salmon hatchery will have the capacity to rear up to eight (8) million eggs, but is currently equipped to handle all fish culture aspects required for five (5) million eggs from brood stock management until fry release. Sockeye salmon eggs will be released annually as fry into the Okanagan system.  Sizing the facility for eight (8) million eggs allows for flexibility in the future or to allow for changes in the fish culture activities.

The Hatchery includes all buildings, equipment, and infrastructure required to collect, incubate, rear and release fish for the sole intent of outplanting sockeye fry for reintroduction and range extension to Skaha and Okanagan Lake. Fish culture also includes all laboratories and associated activities for fish condition and aging, plankton and mysid biometrics, and virology, necessary for the Sockeye Reintroduction Program. During the entire course the hatchery mimics the natural temperatures of the river and no anti-fungal treatments or chemicals are used.

The ONA and its subsidiary company, Okanagan Nation Aquatic Enterprises (OAE) Ltd., have worked in close collaboration with the Colville Confederation Tribes of WA, Grant and Chelan Public Utility Districts in Washington State, the Penticton Indian Band, and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Greyback Construction, among others, to bring this project to reality.

The ONA Chiefs Executive Council acknowledges everyone and everything that helped make this dream a reality; to the water in our streams and the air we breathe, to our Elders and Leaders of yesterday and today, our staff, our technical Teams and partners and through the years our Nation members who have kept the prayers and ceremonies alive, we say, Lim limpt!

TARA MONTGOMERY / Communications Okanagan Nation Alliance 

101 – 3535 Old Okanagan Hwy

WESTBANK, BC V4T 3J6

TF 1 866 662 9609

T   250 707 0095 ext 120

F    250 768 8476 www.syilx.org

Kettle River Q&A: The Twisted Tale of a MAD Trout

Adapted from a presentation to classes at West Boundary Elementary, May 2014.

Today I want to tell you the story of Maddy the trout. This is a true story, kind of. One that requires a bit of imagination, and no fear of statistics of a very basic kind.

Maddy is a rainbow trout (formally Oncorhynchus mykiss for those who like Latin), a flashy, sporty fish of rivers and lakes across the land, good eating for birds and bears and humans alike. People have been known to travel far and wide to cast a fly for Maddy and her kin. In the Kettle and Granby Rivers, she can grow as long as your arm, if you let her.

Maddy the rainbow trout. Illustration © Dustin LaCroix.
Maddy the rainbow trout. Illustration © Dustin LaCroix.

Maddy the trout is a generous type, tolerating hairy hands and painful hooks to some degree, happy to hide away in deep pools or run the river hunting for scuttling critters.

In the hottest days of summer she’ll seek the coldest places, for when the water warms above 20 degrees she quickly tires. When the river runs low, Maddy has fewer and fewer places to hide, as once-deep holes are filled up with cobbles and gravel, less large logs and shady spots provide cooling cover, and safe cool places disappear as the water falls. And then, when the hiding places are the least, they fill with lines and hooks and nets – and sneaks.

Maddy gives of herself if we give back. But she’s MAD now (here’s the statistics).

Trout do best when the river is running medium-full – not too fast, lots of room to swim and hide and eat – somewhere between the average flow for the whole year (Mean, meaning average, Annual Discharge or MAD), and 20% or 1/5 the flow at MAD. (Mean Annual Discharge downstream of Grand Forks is about 83 cubic meters per second – a little less than a backyard swimming pool going by every second).

Below 20% of MAD, it’s still okay – but with the river warming up and habitat degraded, things aren’t as good as at higher flows. Below 10% of MAD (often in August-September), the river gets narrower and gravel bars are above the surface, meaning that available habitat quickly shrinks as the water heats up to lethal levels.

By 5% of MAD there’s almost nothing left – a few deep holes between sections of river that you can walk across. And the river can go from above 20% down to 5% in a matter of a few weeks – not a lot of time for water restrictions to kick in. Five percent of MAD is less than 5 cubic meters per second – less water than could fill a small cargo van.

Scientists from the provincial government have looked at flows and habitat around the Kettle and Granby Rivers, and are studying changes to fisheries and water regulations to help protect the trout and other needs of the river. The Kettle River Watershed Management Plan is examining these options to give advice on the best ways for the government, for our communities, and for fishers and people along the river to help.

So what might Maddy’s advice be to us?

Don’t cut down trees near the shore, plant them back instead (cottonwood, rose, native willow all suit me fine). Fix eroding slopes that choke my summer home with sediment. Put logs and boulders in just the right places to deepen holes where they have filled in. Use much less water, especially in summer – those lawns will grow green again in fall! Keep your trash and trucks and pollution well away from me. Know the fishing and water regulations and report poachers and polluters (1-877-952-RAPP). And stop with all the hooks when the flows are lower and the water’s warm – even if you catch me and let me go, I might not make it to when the waters become cool once more.

Graham Watt is coordinator of the Kettle River Watershed Management Plan for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, working with a Stakeholder Advisory Group of people from across the region. Contact Graham at plan@kettleriver.ca or 250.442.4111.