Salmon in the Similkameen

Local fishing enthusiast, John Sandness shares his thoughts

There are reports of Spring salmon (called Chinook) and steelhead returning to the south Okanagan. At my last meeting with fishermen in a club of fly fishers in Orville, Washington, some fellows told me they were catching steelhead in the Okanagan River so the fish are getting up that far on the Columbia River system. It was thought by some, myself included, that this run of salmonids was extinct.

Salmon and steelhead are a tenacious species and, given half a chance, survive. For example, a single female Spring will lay thousands of eggs! And some will survive their many predators!

The Enloe Dam, a US irrigation dam near Nighthawk, B.C, presently blocks the run up the Similkameen. Some arrangement, perhaps a fish ladder, could be built by the US and BC governments. It certainly would be beneficial to both parties!

I talked to Dave Taylor, the former editor of the Similkameen Star newspaper. When asked if he had ever found evidence of salmon living in our river, he wasn’t sure if they had, but thought it possible in the past. Even if they hadn’t been, with all the knowledge on fish management available, I am sure these fish could be introduced or at least be allowed to establish themselves with the elimination of barriers


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