Anglers only have a couple weeks to take advantage of the Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program.
The program is wrapping up next month, with the final Grand Prize draw for the $50,000 Kingfisher boat planned for early June.
Ed Gudjonson of Creston was April’s lucky winner of the monthly draw, and collected the $1,000 prize in gift certificates for local businesses.
Ed fishes with his uncle, Allan Mather, who won in March. Together their four-person crew have entered 200 fish over the course of the program.
In catching and retaining Kootenay Lake trout, fishers like Ed and his family are supporting conservation and giving the juvenile kokanee a chance to grow. The kokanee are the primary food source of rainbow and bull trout. The abundance of these species in the lake is suppressing the kokanee.
“Since its launch in June 2020, the program has been a great success,” said Gordie Grunerud, President West Arm Outdoors Club, in a release.
“It encourages anglers to participate in a fisheries program that has the goal of reestablishing the predator-prey balance in the main body of Kootenay Lake by reducing the predators – rainbow and bull trout.
“Also, with kokanee closure it is hoped the prey species will recover to historic levels while supporting resident anglers and local business.”
There have also been important economic benefits for local businesses, and more people have been inspired to enjoy the outdoors and participate in a favourite B.C. pastime.
As Randy Zilonka, owner of Gill & Gifts Depot, one of four local businesses that established a depot for receiving submissions, said: “We are seeing a new interest in Kootenay Lake fishing and, after seven years of declining tackle sales, we are seeing an increase this year.
“We can attribute a lot of this to the Angler Incentive Program, which in my estimation, has been a huge success, even exceeding West Arm Outdoors Club’s forecast.”
The Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program is managed by the local West Arm Outdoors Club with support from B.C. Wildlife Federation, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNORD), Jones Boys Boats of Woodbury Creek and several local merchants from around Kootenay Lake.
There is also an opportunity to claim a $100 reward if you catch a rainbow or bull trout with an orange “$100 REWARD” tag on its fin. To claim the $100 reward, clip off the numbered orange tag, record the date and location of capture, and submit this information and the tag.
This project is part of Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC’s research.
More information on the angler incentive program can be found at bcwf.bc.ca/kootenay-lake-angler-incentive-program/