Submitted by the Kootenay Angler Incentive Program
The first lucky winner of the new Kootenay Lake angler incentive program is local Dave Johnston from Gray Creek. Johnston picked up the June prize of gift certificates to local businesses worth $1,000 from the Gill and Gift in Balfour.
In the first month of the program, 2,082 rainbow and bull trout heads were submitted.
Johnston said, “the word is out in the community; people are talking about it as it’s a spectacular prize.”
Johnston had an active day on the lake before submitting his heads through the Crawford Bay depot. A long-time resident, he remembers fishing for plentiful kokanee on Kootenay Lake in the 1980s.
“I’d like to see the fishery come back to its glory,” he said.
With the COVID-19 restrictions, Johnston has seen more people fishing from shore and their favourite spots along the lake.
“Getting out in nature is a beautiful experience, and fishing keeps you amused, whether you are isolated or socializing.”
While he usually smokes his trout with their heads on, Johnston was happy to sacrifice the heads for kokanee recovery, even before becoming the June winner.
The BCWF and its local member club, the West Arm Outdoors Club, are managing this angler incentive program for an entire year with monthly draws worth $1,000 and a grand prize of a boat and motor valued at over $50,000.
The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation awarded the local club a grant of $50,000 to encourage anglers to fish again on the lake.
The goal is to help with the recovery of the main lake kokanee population that has been severely depressed for nearly a decade due to an overpopulation of rainbow and bull trout.
The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC joined the program by providing funds for the monthly draw and the grand prize.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development and Jones Boys Boats at Woodbury Creek on the lake are also partners.
Four local businesses around the lake have established depots for receiving the heads: Gill and Gift, Woodbury Resort, Wynndel Foods, and Crawford Bay Market.
Gordon Grunerud, president of the local West Arm Outdoors Club is very happy with the results of the first month.
“We didn’t know how interested anglers would be with this project, but after the first month, I am now certain that anglers want to help return Kootenay Lake back to the days of 15-to-20 pound rainbows.”