Sockeye Mark, Recapture & Deadpitch

Project Overview:

Since 2011, migrating Sockeye Salmon have been able to enter Skaha Lake through the dam at Okanagan Falls.  This was due to extended high spring flows and the Provincial Government’s water management regime.  From 2011 to 2015, approximately 3 – 12,000 Sockeye have entered the lake each year.  Questions have been raised regarding the impact of Sockeye-kokanee interactions, particularly for spawning adults in Penticton Channel.    Starting in 2014 ONA has been monitoring the fish ladder at the base of Skaha Dam to evaluate adult Sockeye passage.  This project’s focus is to capture and mark approximately 500  Sockeye with colour- coded tags, then retrieve tagged carcasses in the Channel to estimate the spawning Sockeye population.  In addition, kokanee carcasses are recovered and bio-sampled to determine population dynamics of the Skaha Lake stock. Using a mathematical formula, the number of spawning Sockeye can be estimated.

ONA works in partnership with regulating agencies (MFLNRO and DFO) and they are aware of all our projects.  The Okanagan Nation has never signed treaties, nor relinquished our right to harvest and manage the fishery.  Ultimately, ONA is working to study and manage the fish community taking a holistic approach.

Project Goals:

  1. Capture adult Sockeye in the Skaha Dam fish way and in Skaha Lake. Tag all fish with numbered and coloured spaghetti tags.
  2. Tag adults with coded Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags. Configure a PIT antenna at the mouth of Shingle Creek to monitor timing and use of the creek.
  3. Biosample adults for fork length, sex, and DNA to monitor Sockeye population dynamics.
  4. Determine if Sockeye and kokanee spawning behavior differs spatially and over time.  Confirm if Sockeye and Kokanee hybridize during spawning.

Project Media:

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Project Progress/Status:

Capture of adult migrating Sockeye occurs from mid-September to the beginning of October. Carcass surveys occur October to mid-November.

Project Location:

Skaha Lake Outlet Dam in Okanagan Falls; Penticton Channel from Okanagan Lake Outlet Dam to the confluence of Ellis Creek and Shingle Creek from the confluence upstream to the En’owkin Centre

Project Map:

Project Team:

Project Manager : Ryan Benson

Field Lead: Chelsea Mathieu / Jessica Hilton-McPherson

Technicians: Sheena Hooley, Saul Squakin, Paul Snow, Joe Gabriel

Project Partnerships:

Grant Public Utility District & Chelan Public Utility District – funders

Department of Fisheries and Oceans; Ministry of Forests Lands, and Natural Resource Operations – Skaha Lake Sub-Committee (part of the Canadian Okanagan Basin Technical Working Group)

Related Project(s):