WOOD LAKE Closure!

It was just a matter of time before this happened, I for one could see it and I know that Ron Taylor of the Oceola Fish and Game Club also saw it coming.  He has put more time and energy into the Wood Lk kokanee revitalization than anyone else I know.  There are more factors involved than just what is stated in the memo, IMHO overfishing and especially ice fishing hasn't helped.  As with any lake you have your professional poachers who decimate stocks over time and along with declining return of spawning fish, a closure that should have been imposed some time ago now has to be invoked.  Okanagan Lake next?  I hope so. The following is the official memo from the Ministry as well as the HCTF rational for the closure:

Rationale for Proposal
Wood Lake kokanee have recently taken a drastic downturn with the lowest returns on record since standardized counts began. Stock-assessment data from acoustic trawl surveys indicates that the following two spawning cohorts (2013 and 2014) are also weak. The cause of the downturn appears to be due to the eutrophic state of the lake, and extended anoxic conditions in the hypolimnion through late summer and early fall. The situation was especially acute in 2011 when September surface waters (<10m depth) were in excess of 20C and all water deeper than that was anoxic (<2mg/L O2). Angler harvest does not appear to be the cause of the downturn, yet with spawner escapement so low, excessive mortality due to angler harvest would likely extend the period of low abundance for more generations.
On the positive side, recent HCTF projects (8-321) on Wood Lake have provided substantial background data on the population, and this allows for maximizing potential opportunity through active management. A standardized spring opening is proposed for the next 2 years, so that some fishing opportunity is available, and important data can be collected. Data for angler CPUE and Effort near the origin (i.e. low spawner abundance) is very valuable for setting up long term sustainable management plans. A six week period in early spring has been chosen to coincide with a consistent period of available data from historical years for comparison. In addition, catch rate and catch size are sufficiently correlated with abundance on Wood Lake, so that there is an opportunity to make in-season adjustments from the initial creel data. If catch rates are high and average size low, then we can confidently extend the fishery opening.
It is difficult to predict precisely how many anglers will participate in the shortened opening, as the shortened season could concentrate effort. However, angler participation did decline in 2012 due to lower fish abundance, and catch rates were also low. It is expected that the anglers will remove 10-20% of the spawning stock in this short period (based on historical effort during these months and 2012 CPUE), as it is high harvest period on Wood Lake.
In summary the stock took a severe hit in 2011 and all age-classes in the lake were impacted. We did see good recruitment of age-0 fish last year, so the fishery should be recovering by 2015. However, if we do not take some action now, there may not be enough spawners remaining to continue recovery in 2016, 2017. Acoustic data in 2014 will be highly informative as to the age-0 recruitment potential from extremely low run size, and creel data from a limited opening will also be important. Taking some risk with a short “experimental” opening will be highly informative in providing clear data to guide management actions in future years should catastrophic water quality conditions exist again.
Wood lake is the last high use, wildstock kokanee fishery left in Canada, and averages around 10,000 summertime angler days (~$1,000,000 annually to the local economy), plus substantial ice fishing when the lake freezes (7000 angler days in 2009 about another ½ million in expenditures).