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Posted: May 31, 2020

Kootenay Lake angler incentive program beginning

A new angler incentive program on Kootenay Lake launches June 1.

Anglers are encouraged to harvest rainbow and bull trout in the main body of Kootenay Lake and then turn in the heads to one of four depots to enter a monthly draw for a prize worth $1,000.

Each head returned also qualifies for entry in the final grand prize draw – an 18’ Kingfisher boat equipped with a 115hp Yamaha Engine.

In this phase of the COVID-19 emergency, anglers are encouraged to get back out on the water and enjoy the outdoors while fishing.

BC Wildlife Federation (BCWF) President Bill Bosch urges anglers who want to participate in a fish head recovery program to turn in the heads of trout caught in the main body of Kootenay Lake. Bosch said, “the returned heads can be used to obtain biological data to assist the Ministry in management of the lake.”

As COVID-19 phase two restrictions are in place, this program is for local anglers wanting to catch healthy protein. Social distancing should be practiced while fishing.

The Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program is designed to help the iconic kokanee salmon population recover after their collapse in 2013.

Conservationists have been trying to reverse the decline by conducting kokanee egg plants and fry release for the past five years. The high in-lake abundance of rainbow and bull trout is suppressing the survival of the kokanee, the primary food source of these predators.

The incentive program encourages anglers to catch and retain rainbow and bull trout while giving the juvenile kokanee a chance to grow.

Of equal importance, the program inspires people to enjoy the outdoors and participate in one of the country’s favourite pastimes. Fishing fun is made even more rewarding through monthly prizes and a chance to win the grand prize draw worth more than $50,000.

Partnership and Goals

The incentive program is supported by the local West Arm Outdoors Club, Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club, BC Wildlife Federation, Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and the province. The goal is to increase rainbow and bull trout retention from 50 percent of fish caught to 90 percent. The program’s target level for additional retention will not create conservation issues for the trout and will help the kokanee recover.

The Freshwater Fishing Society of B.C. is providing most of the funding for the generous monthly prizes. Chief Executive Officer Andrew Wilson commented that the FFSBC is keenly aware of the value of the Kootenay Lake fishery and is especially interested in seeing the local economy gain from increased fishing. “Local businesses have been severely impacted by the decline of fishing on the lake over the last few years, and we believe that this project will renew angler interest and assist local businesses,” said Wilson.

West Arm Club President Gord Grunerud said, “the sports fishery on Kootenay Lake was once renowned for its stock of large Gerrard rainbow trout and kokanee salmon. We want to get back to a robust sports fishery in our region. Our goal with this three-year incentive program is to restore a balance in predator/prey relationships to allow kokanee abundance to increase.”

The first year of the incentive program runs until June 1, 2021, when the grand prize winner will be drawn. Only rainbow and bull trout caught in the main lake and lower Duncan River are eligible. (West Arm fish are not eligible).

Fish samples will be collected from all draw entries, and ministry fish biologists will verify the eligibility of fish which draw winners submit.

Anyone can enter the draw with a freshwater fishing licence.

Sample cards, available at participating depots, must be included with heads or fish. Cards must be filled out completely, indicating angler number, Youth (if under 16) or First Nations, draw ticket number and signature.

Depots located at: 

Woodbury Resort;

Balfour Chevron (Gill and Gift) gas station;

Crawford Bay Market;

Wynndell Foods and Outdoor Gear.

Freezers are at each of these stations for storage. Anglers can bring the fresh or frozen heads to the stations in a zip lock bag. One draw ticket will be issued for each head deposited.

For all the incentive program rules and updates.

Lead image: Kootenay Lake. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW photo

Submitted by BC Wildlife Federation


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