Survey to chart success of Kootenay Lake fishing

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West Kootenay angler Blair Mumford with a recent catch.

With the cold weather this time of the year, the lure of Kootenay Lake may diminish for some local residents. For more hardy anglers, however, there is no better time to cast that lure. The Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) wants to know how successful — or not — those anglers are. From now until November 2011, the Kootenay Lake angler survey is on.

“This will be the first field survey of anglers on the main lake since the 1980s,” says FWCP fisheries biologist Steve Arndt. “The information we expect to gather will be extremely valuable, both for measuring the recreational and economic benefits of the fishery, and for helping evaluate the effects of our major compensation initiatives such as Meadow Creek spawning channel and the nutrient restoration program.” 

The FWCP works on behalf of its program partners BC Hydro, the province of B.C. and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to conserve and enhance fish and wildlife impacted by the construction of BC Hydro dams. Local contractor Redfish Consulting will be undertaking the survey work, with Simon Fraser University analysing the statistical catch data. 

The angler survey will record the species and size of fish caught, as well as the length of time anglers spent finding and catching them. 

It will focus on the main body of the lake but also include anglers who have been fishing in the West Arm, and returning to Balfour. Project personnel will interact with anglers at key boat access ramps, attend some local fishing derbies, and approach some shore-based anglers. Counts of total fishing boats will be made by flights from Creston to the north end of the lake. 

Project personnel will interview anglers about their harvest and fish released, and, with the permission of the anglers, will record length and weight measurements, and take scale and otolith (“earstones” which aid fish in balance and hearing) samples from bull trout and rainbow trout. 

“This survey will provide the first whole lake estimates of angler use and harvest since the nutrient additions started, and provide important biological data as well,” said FWCP program manager Andrew MacDonald. “But to get to that point we are reliant on anglers sharing their fish catch information, and we hope they will participate.”

After all the data has been collected and analysed, the results will be available for the public through the FWCP website at fwcp.ca. Information about the “big one that got away” will not be included!