Wednesday, December 08, 2021
35.0°F

Fewer kokanee at Lake Roosevelt

by John Kruse, Washington Outdoors Report
| April 23, 2021 1:00 AM

Several readers recently contacted me about the lack of kokanee at Lake Roosevelt so far this year. This prompted me to reach out to Chris Donley, the regional fish program director for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, to ask him about kokanee and other species found in this impoundment of the Columbia River.

“There are some kokanee in the reservoir this year but by no means as many as we have seen in the past few. Couple the lower abundance with an odd water year and drawdown scenario and it has contributed to tougher fishing for kokanee,” Donley said. “It’s important to note that some of our avid kokanee anglers have had a great late winter/early spring, which tells me there are some fish there for the taking.

“Roosevelt kokanee fishing is driven-off fish that entrain in from other reservoirs. Some years they are abundant, and some years they aren’t. Water elevation, flows, hydro-operations and predation determine what survives in Lake Roosevelt and also what stays in the reservoir long enough to grow to harvestable size and ultimately get caught. Because there are so many variables impacting the fishery, it is always inconsistent in its productivity. This is nothing new,” Donley said.

Donley is often asked why WDFW doesn’t stock kokanee in Lake Roosevelt.

His reply: “We have for many years, and saw almost no return on those stocked fish. Most, if not all, were lost to entrainment out of the reservoir or were consumed by predatory warmwater fishes.”

As for other fishing, Donley said, “Trout fishing has been good all winter and should be good this spring as water warms. (It’s) been a little on and off, and I would guess it relates to water elevation and a weird water year,” affecting the trout in the same way it’s affecting the kokanee.

“Sometimes trolling is really effective, and sometimes shore fishing in bays and shallow areas has been more productive,” Donley said.

Finally, when it comes to the walleye at Lake Roosevelt, Donley had this to say: “If you are where the fish are, it’s been good. The Spokane Arm has been good for the last two months and will likely fish well through early June. The bulk of the fish move into the arm in late winter in preparation to spawn in April and then start a northward migration to Kettle Falls beginning in mid-May, so anglers will want to follow those fish upstream as they progress.”

Trout derby

With all of the lowland lakes open for trout fishing on Saturday, you’ll want to keep an eye out for any fish you catch with an orange tag attached to the fin.

The WDFW is again having a statewide trout derby through Oct. 31, and that tag will get you a nice prize or gift card.

More than 70 businesses are participating in the trout derby this year, donating $38,000 worth of prizes.

A thousand tagged trout can be found in more than 100 lakes around the state this year. If you catch one, you fill out the information from the tag online, submit it, and your prize will soon be headed your way.

You can find the form and what lakes have tagged fish in them by going to https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/contests/trout-derby#rules-info.