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Re-writing regulations: In-Season Changes For Fishing In West Kootenay

The annual quota of bull trout and rainbow trout on the main body of the big lake has been increased from 10 per year to 20 per year.

The province has upped the ante for fishing on Kootenay Lake.

The annual quota of bull trout and rainbow trout on the main body of the big lake has been increased from 10 per year to 20 per year for fish over 50 centimetres.

The Region 4 in-season regulation changes were also accompanied by a time-of-day closure for the Slocan River — from 12 p.m. to midnight until Aug. 31 — with a no fishing regulation for that time.

All streams south of Nelson and Castlegar — other than the main stems of the Columbia and Kootenay rivers — will have a no fishing regulation in force from 2 p.m. until midnight unitil further notice is given. Single, barbless hooks must be used in all streams of Region 4, all year.

High predator abundance of Gerrard rainbow and bull trout are still the culprits in the kokanee fishery collapse, the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) has said in the past, and is the reason for the increase in the allowable catch.

“(H)istorically, these fish became very large when kokanee were abundant,” a spokesperson for the FLNRORD explained. “Predators can remain abundant relative to their prey by growing slower and switching to supplement their diet with other items, so predators in Kootenay Lake still survive well for at least their first few years of life but are now small and skinny.”

But the fishery also attracted less effort, he said, and overall fish harvest was below pre-collapse levels, exacerbating the problem.

“This explains why predator in-lake abundance did not collapse with kokanee.”

Last year evidence surfaced that predator-to-prey ratio was trending in the right direction, as predators are becoming less abundant and are better fed than they had been between 2015 and 2020.

The main Kootenay Lake kokanee population has been characterized as ‘collapsed’ but it is in no danger of disappearing, according to the province’s latest update on the state of the lake’s keystone species.

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