Angler’s Atlas, with support from the Ministry of Forests and other local businesses, has announced the launch of the Kootenay Angler Incentive Summer Event details.
The program encourages visiting and resident anglers to get on the water and participate in a fisheries conservation program aimed at re-establishing the predator-prey balance in the main body of Kootenay Lake.
Kokanee salmon have been a key part of the Kootenay Lake food chain for roughly 9500 years, when Bonnington Falls formed and created a migration barrier, cutting sockeye ancestors off from the Columbia River and, ultimately, the Pacific Ocean.
Kokanee salmon were once a strong staple for local Indigenous Nations, and after catching them using river weirs, wicker baskets, spears or twisted-bark fish lines, they would cook the fish up fresh and smoke or dry them for the long and brutal winters ahead.
For decades, a prolific kokanee population fed large and record-setting Gerrard Rainbow Trout and Bull Trout, allowing the region to support a world-renowned sport fishery.
But for a host of reasons, some known, some not, kokanee numbers have dropped dramatically and recent studies show that about 95 percent of kokanee fry don’t survive a year, largely thanks to their voracious lake predators.
“You just can’t recover kokanee when that is happening,” says Fisheries Section Head Matt Neufeld, “So we’re working to increase kokanee numbers both by stocking kokanee, and reducing predator pressure so more survive… we’re encouraging people to harvest Rainbow Trout and Bull Trout.”
By targeting and decreasing the abundance of these two trout species, the Ministry of Forests hopes this program, kokanee fishing closures, and other recovery actions will restore the kokanee to historic levels. If given the chance, juveniles may avoid predation and grow to a reproductive age of 3 to 5 years old. They may once again become a significant food source for eagles, ospreys, and grizzly bears, and a kokanee sport fishery could reopen.
“This program [the original Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program] has reduced Rainbow and Bull Trout abundance faster than any other recovery action implemented to date,” says Ministry Fish Biologist Molly Teather.
There is $30,000 in cash prizes and $20,000 in other prizes up for grabs for participants who enter the events. The weekend events will happen on the following dates:
- Canada Day (July 1-3)
- August Long (August 5-7)
- Labour Day (Sep 2-4)
- Thanksgiving (Oct 7-9)
The summer-long event runs from July 1st to October 31, 2023.
Unlike previous years, for the 2023 Summer Events anglers do not need to keep trout heads or travel to drop them off at a collection depot. Instead, participants can register online for the 2023 events here and then record their catches by downloading and using a mobile app called MyCatch by Angler’s Atlas, directly from their boat or the shoreline.
After catching and killing a Rainbow or Bull Trout, anglers must take a picture of their fish on a measuring device using the MyCatch app. Once the catch team reviews the fish and it meets the rules, it qualifies as an entry and appears on a live leaderboard where anglers can compare their efforts to each other. The more fish caught and documented, the more entries and the better the chance of winning. Additional prizes will be awarded to the participants who catch the longest trout and for the most fish caught.
“We know biologists face many hurdles when it comes to managing the recovery of kokanee in Kootenay Lake,” says Sean Simmons, founder and president of Angler’s Atlas. “We believe anglers hold the key to supporting their recovery plan simply by participating in these summer angling events.”
Anglers can take part and have a shot at winning anytime between July 1 and October 31. However, the first weekend event is just around the corner, taking place from July 1 to July 3, and offering lots of great prizes. Don’t miss out! Help our kokanee by registering for the Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program and downloading the MyCatch app today.
Click here for more information on the Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Events.