The BCWF and its local member club, the West Arm Outdoors Club, are thrilled about the angling public’s response to their Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program (KLAIP). During July-August over 5,500 rainbow and bull trout heads had been entered into the draws for monthly prizes of $1,000, in the form of gift certificates at the participating businesses. The August winner, Dale Roberts spends the summer at his cabin in Crawford Bay. “I’ve been fishing on Kootenay Lake for 25 years. Since 2013, the size of the rainbow trout really declined. In 2013, I was catching a 32-inch fish weighing about 16-17 pounds. A year and a half later, a 32-inch fish was weighing only 7 pounds – they were essentially starving.” Dale said. “This program is a great idea. When I heard about it, I was excited to participate – I fished 22 out of 30 days in June!”
Local businesses have observed an increase in economic activity and a noticeable increase in fishing boats on the lake this summer. Fishing licence sales specific to fishing on Kootenay Lake have increased by nearly 30% compared to the previous five–year average for April-August. This increase is entirely due to local anglers as licence sales to non-resident anglers have substantially declined.
There is more good news for Kootenay Lake anglers as the summer fades into the fall months. As the lake begins to cool rainbow trout begin to move towards the surface once again and become very active. Experienced anglers know this is the beginning of great fishing at or near the surface waters and it carries on well into the winter months. Fall fishing on Kootenay Lake is an enjoyable activity with mostly calm waters and sunny days in a backdrop of beautiful scenery. Lake fishing offers a much needed respite amidst on-going pandemic stress. The chance of catching a large trout or char, especially in the winter months, has always made Kootenay Lake famous throughout North America.
“There is a possibility that rainbow and bull trout size may have slightly increased, with a few now possibly up to 10 pounds,” said BCWF Past President Harvey Andrusak, a professional fisheries biologist and West Arm Outdoors Club member who is assisting with data analysis and collaboration with local ministry fisheries biologists. “This may be too optimistic, but temporary reduction of trout numbers is expected to result in more kokanee surviving to spawn, which in turn will result in more food for the trout to grow. If all goes according to plan, then within five years anglers could once again enjoy fishing for trout that historically used to be 15-25 lbs in size.”
The KLAIP was made possible by a grant from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF) to the BCWF and a generous donation of the grand prize from the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC and Jones Boys Marina. HCTF is a conservation organization independent of government and is funded from surcharges on annual fishing and hunting licences. Long story short, fishing on Kootenay Lake helps fund the Kootenay Lake Program, thus helping local anglers improve fishing on the lake. This is a good example of a win-win situation for the fish and anglers.
Photo (left to right): Gordie Grunerud, West Arm Outdoors Club/ Program Manager; August winner, Dale Roberts; and Cam Muir, Manager, Crawford Bay Market.