Bull Trout (photo by Karen Bray)

Bull Trout (photo by Karen Bray)

Wanted: fish guts

Biologists are asking Arrow Lakes anglers for the insides of their fish.

Fish guts wanted. Yep, you read that right, provincial biologists are asking Arrow Lakes anglers for the insides of their fish.

The Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) is trying to better understand the eating habits and behaviour of predator fish in the Arrow Lakes Reservoir as part of a project that includes adding nutrients to the reservoir.

“The goal is to determine if the larger piscivorous fish, such as Bull Trout or Rainbow Trout, prefer to eat smaller or larger-sized prey,” explained FWCP in a news release.

“Analyzing stomach contents can provide the answer, but biologists need anglers’ assistance to provide ‘their guts’. The challenge is that some anglers clean their fish out on the water, so the guts go straight over the side, but bringing those large fish back to the creel technicians on survey days will provide very valuable information.”

The creel surveys operate on Arrow Lakes Reservoir five days per month, year-round. They are located at Syringa Park Marina, Syringa Provincial Park, Nakusp Public Boat Ramp, and Shelter Bay Provincial Park.

If anglers see a survey crew at the boat ramp, then fish stomach contents are being collected that day.

FWCP asks that the guts are either bagged and kept on ice, or that the whole fish is kept, with the head on, so that the length can be recorded.

Stomach content analysis in the Arrow Lakes Reservoir is not new, but only 250 stomachs have been collected since 2014. FWCP explained that biologists are hoping that more can be collected this year.

Preliminary results show that fish 45+ centimetres in length prefer to feed on Kokanee that are 15+ centimetres and that young Kokanee, less than one-year-old, tend not to be a significant portion of their diet.

The Nutrient Restoration Program in Arrow Lakes Reservoir is funded by FWCP, the Province of B.C. and Columbia Power.

The FWCP is a partnership between BC Hydro, the Province of B.C., Fisheries and Oceans Canada, First Nations, and public stakeholders, to conserve and enhance fish and wildlife in watersheds impacted by BC Hydro dams.

In 2018-2019 the FWCP in the Columbia Region is funding 55 projects for a total project investment of more than $6 million.