Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program continues to cast as the program will continue into another season with more prizes in store in an effort to bring back the kokanee populations. Photo: Jim Bailey

Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program launches Year-2

A youth initiative and even a greater prize package is planned for 2021-22 angler incentive program

The success of the Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program has organizers casting Year-2 off with an even sharper hook.

In an effort to bring back the kokanee salmon population, Year 2’s program will roll out a similar process. Anglers are encouraged to retain their catch of rainbow and bull trout, then submit the heads at participating businesses/depots for a chance to win a monthly draw worth $1,000, and a grand prize draw at the end of it.

However, this year’s endeavour will also include a youth program for anglers age 15 and under.

“We are excited to include a separate category this year for kids,” said West Arm Outdoors Club president Gord Grunerud. “The youth program will run for the summer and include anglers aged 15 and younger with numerous age-appropriate prizes to promote junior fishers.”

The 2021 grand prize will be announced on June 9, and the winner will receive an 18-foot Kingfisher boat with a 115 hp Yamaha engine from Jones Boys Boats and Marina.

The 2022 grand prize is even more impressive, and the winning anlger can choose a Marlon boat package from Jones Boys Boats, a Polaris Sportsman Quad from Main Jet Motorsports, or a three-night saltwater fishing package for two at Coastal Springs Float Lodge.

“The program encourages resident anglers to get outdoors and to participate in a fisheries conservation program aimed at re-establishing the predator-prey balance in the main body of Kootenay Lake by reducing the predators – rainbow and bull trout,” explains Grunerud. “Together with the Kokanee closure, it is hoped the prey species will recover to historic levels while supporting anglers, outdoor sports, and local business.”

The conservation goal is to increase rainbow and bull trout retention from 50 percent of the fish caught to 90 percent. The trout suppress the kokanee population, the primary food source of these predators.

Encouraging anglers to catch and retain Kootenay Lake trout will give the juvenile kokanee population a chance to grow.

The incentive program has also helped out local businesses, and Terry Jones of Woodbury Resort and Marina has seen a marked increase in anglers since the crash of the kokanee salmon.

“The Kootenay Lake Anglers Incentive Program has been a tremendous success and definitely created a lot of new interest in fishing,” said Jones who has been serving customers on the lake since 1977. “I’ve seen a lot of business leave the lake in the last few years, but this program has given people the incentive to fish again.”

The program inspires anglers of all ages to get out fishing and enjoy the outdoors. The prizes and timing details for the youth program will be announced in the coming weeks. Anglers can drop fish heads off at Woodbury Resort, Crawford Bay Market, Balfour (Gill and Gift) gas station, and Wynndell Foods and Outdoor Gear.

The limit for bull trout on the lake is three of any size, and five for rainbows, but only two over 50 cm. Anglers are required to purchase a Kootenay Lake Conservation Surcharge Stamp if planning to harvest rainbows over 50 cm, with an annual limit of 10.

The 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.

For more info go online at bcwf.bc.ca/kootenay-lake-angler-incentive-program/

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