After more than a decade, the Penticton Flyfishers Club is back in the fish hatchery business.
The club has been working at rehabilitating their hatchery on Penticton Creek for some time, and recently received a permit from the province allowing them to put the facility back in operation for this Kokanee spawning season.
“We had a hatchery long before I joined, (but) we haven’t been able to utilize it for 12 years,” said Phil Rogers, one of the club members who will be overseeing the operation. “It’s been a long time coming. Several of the long-term members are familiar with the operation but anybody who has joined the club less than 12 years ago, this is going to be something new for us.
“The old members will be a good source of information on how this thing is supposed to run, plus we are going to get assistance from the Summerland hatchery as well.”
While the hatchery is on Penticton Creek, the eggs will be coming from the Okanagan River channel, and the fry are to be released into Ellis Creek, according to Rogers.
“They did a fair amount of work at the base of Ellis Creek, just off Industrial, just by the oxbows. So I think that is the plan to see if we can re-establish the run up Ellis Creek and we might as well use the same genetic stock that are already in Skaha,” said Rogers.
Restoring the Kokanee run in Ellis Creek is a long-term project, starting with a four-year wait for the first year’s fry to return. But just getting started restoring the hatchery was also a lot of work.
Though several of the incubators are still usable, there has been deterioration over the last 12 years.
“We had to replace the flooring because that rotted out in certain spots while it was just sitting there,” said Rogers.
“Other damage came from vermin setting up housekeeping at the hatchery. “We have had to clean it out thoroughly and we have replaced some items in there.”
But now the facility is ready with water and power courtesy of the City of Penticton, who have made a five-year deal with the club.
“Basically we are all set and we are just waiting for the proper window to collect the eggs,” said Rogers.
Though the odd Kokanee is already making its way into the creek, few will be ready to spawn until the water cools, in mid to late October.
That’s when the Flyfishers will harvest Kokanee eggs for their incubators.
“We are allowed to collect 100,000,” said Rogers. “I believe we have capacity for up to 400,000, but for the first year, we will just see how it goes and make sure everything is working properly and we get some good results before we go to take it any further.”