Regulatory changes to Kootenay angling management have been made to help ensure a quality fishing experience, to reduce crowding on popular rivers and to support trout conservation.
Three “classified waters” in the Kootenays have implemented a booking system for non-resident anglers, including Michel Creek in Fernie. (The others are the Wigwam River and the Skookumchuck Creek).
John Krebs, director of resource management for the provincial government, said that through an angling management plan, his department is trying to elevate the level of oversight management on the Elk River and its tributaries, saying those high quality fishing areas have valuable bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout stocks in them.
“People really enjoy the fishing opportunities there,” he said. “We’ve separated the Michel Creek into its own classified water, because it’s one of the ones that’s been getting a huge amount of pressure over the last few years because it’s so accessible and it’s a very productive systems.”
Krebs said Michel Creek has also been suffering from a bit too much pressure.
“We get a lot of out-of-town non-residents from the U.S. and from other provinces coming in and we weren’t limiting any of the license sales there.”
The new regulations will allow Krebs and others in his department to manage the number of license sales, which sets an allotted number of angler days in the different license categories: residents; guided clients; non-resident alien (non-Canadian); and non-resident (Canadians from provinces other than B.C.).
“We have targets in each of those categories for the two non-res groups we now have the ability to limit the number of licenses,” he said, “Over the past nine or 10 years, it became pretty clear that we were way exceeding our targets but we couldn’t limit the license sale through the system. So now we fixed that problem. It still provides opportunities in those systems when they’re open to angling to get a license but once the allotment is full for a time period, they won’t be able to purchase a license for that water and they’ll have to consider others. Right now we’re just applying that to the Michele, Wigwam and Skookumchuck.”
There were a couple of reasons why the regulations have come into play, Krebs said, adding there was crowding and conflicts among anglers. In some cases, there were fish found with indications there were repeat captures of fish.
“Really, we’re trying to manage it the way we intended to right from the beginning, which is with a desire to have a number of anglers that a place can sustain rather than an unlimited situation where we’ve slowly seen more and more angling and more
and more pressure on these stocks.”
For visitors who come to Fernie to do some angling, Krebs said not to worry, as there are other places for anglers in the area, including the Elk River main stem, which is currently not limited.