If you’ve been fishing on Upper Arrow Lake recently, or hanging out at the marina, you might have seen a boat on the water equipped with nets. This unusual sight is part of a sturgeon restoration program and the nets were being used in hopes to catch a few of the prehistoric-looking fish to figure out their numbers a coming back.
The program has BC Hydro partnered with federal and provincial governments, as well as the Okanagan Nation Alliance, and it was the ONA who were here recently, conducting field sampling for juvenile white sturgeon.
Talking with Mike Hildebrant, Collette Louie and Casmir Tonasket just before their last day out on the water near Nakusp, the crew of three hadn’t had any luck catching sturgeon so far, and their luck didn’t improve. No juvenile white sturgeon were capture during their ten-day sampling session that ranged from MacDonald Creek up to the confluence of the Beaton Arm.
“In an area as large as Arrow Lakes Reservoir, finding and capturing small white sturgeon is like looking for needles in a haystack,” BC Hydro representative Jen Walker-Larsen told the Arrow Lakes News. Walker-Larsen said that further sampling through this study is planned for the next four years, and that it will take time to be able to tell whether recovery efforts are making a difference.
Since 2002 BC Hydro has been releasing hatchery-raised juveniles in the Columbia River downstream of Hugh L. Keenleyside Dam. Numerous studies are also being done to help restore the white sturgeon population, said Walker-Larsen. And although no juveniles were caught this time out, results of studies have provided evidence that successful survival from age one to adulthood can occur, does suggest that hatchery released juveniles are surviving and growing well, she said.