Monday, September 25, 2006

Fish & Game Biology

A recent article printed in the Coeur d'Alene Press, Idaho fish and game expounded on the fight to save the Lake Pend Oreille fishery. Aside from the we will never stop fighting and don't give up this ship rhetoric, the finger of guilt must point toward Fish & Game, and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Kokanee survival is the key issue here, but first we have to visit the food chain.

Algae is the basic food, eaten by phytoplankton, which is eaten by Kokanee which is then eaten by all the rest of the fish. Several issues affect the survival of the Kokanee, among them, the accursed Mackinaw, or Lake Trout.

The most damaging of the cases of this fishery demise, however, is not the predators. It's the management by the aforementioned agencies. For the first two or three years, phytoplankton is the source of food for these vanishing fish. Every fall, the Corps of Engineers flush the majority of algae and phytoplankton down the Pend Oreille River, as they rush to lower the lake level before the Kokanee spawn.

That sounds pretty good, if it weren't for the fact that to save the spawn, they are flushing the food source through rapid draw down. Picture your bathtub. Pull the plug. The swirling water will take anything light that will float down the drain. So it does on our lake.

Another factor, and possibly the more important of the two, is the 1968 introduction of Mysic Shrimp by Idaho Fish and Game. In an apparent attempt to provide more food, they failed to realize that shrimp avoid light, and only feed close to the surface during the hours of darkness, sinking to several hundred feet down during daylight, the periods that the fish are feeding, thence the twain don't meet.

The latest, and most ridiculous plan is to hold off on the draw down until after the Mackinaw spawn, hoping that they will spawn in shallow water, then drying the spawn with the draw down. Immediately following that, the lake will be flushed at an even faster rate, so that low pool will be reached in time for the Kokanee spawn.

It doesn't help to spawn more Kokanee, if there isn't any food for their survival. Will they never learn? Or is it all about Bonneville Power, and the water needed downstream, and politics as usual.


Dogwalkmusings said...

I suppose because they hang "Fish and Game" after their names we are supposed to take what they say as Gospel. And whether it's Bonneville Power or the Corp. of Engineers that F&G points the finger at they are still involved.

I think there is a word for it. If I'm not mistaken its "politics".

green libertarian said...

It's not nice, to fool Mother Nature.

Hello Herb.