Did you know you could get paid for catching fish in BC? There are actually many lakes around BC that offer anglers rewards just for catching a tagged fish, and here are a few.
The survival rate of Kokanee, a land locked salmon in Kootenay Lake has drastically gone down over the years according to The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC (also known as Go Fish BC). These shiny silver fish prefer to swim in the depths of our largest lakes while aggressively biting our flashy lures. Rainbow Trout and Bull Trout are so abundant in Kootenay Lake that they have literally eaten themselves out of house and home by eating all the Kokanee (their main prey) in the lake.
The Provincial Government has partnered with numerous stakeholders to sponsor a competition on Kootenay Lake to try and bring the numbers of Kokanee back up. By turning in the heads of your rainbow or bull trout you will get entered into a draw to win one of the amazing prizes. The heads must be put into a ziplock bag and then can be dropped off at one of the four stations. You will then be given a draw ticket for each head or whole fish that you drop off.
Last year was the first year of the program and it was an absolute success with over 11,000 Rainbow and Bull Trout heads submitted. By catching these trout, it helps give the juvenile Kokanee a chance to grow and aids in the recovery of juvenile Kokanee in the lake.
Last years top prize was a Kingfisher boat equipped with a 115 – horsepower Yamaha outboard motor valued at $50,000! Could you imagine getting a brand new boat just for turning in a fish head!!
The Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program demonstrated that this angler-science program had such a huge impact on the conservation goals for the Lake in its first year that it received the funding for a second year! By turning in your fish head every month you get entered to win a monthly draw of $1000.00 in gift certificates from local businesses or entered to win one of the three grande prizes. This year the grand prizes are: A Marlon SWV16L boat package (includes a Mercury 25ELH Outboard and Karavan Trailer) , A Polaris Sportsman 450 H.O. Quad, or a 3 night saltwater fishing package for 2 at Coastal Springs Float Lodge.
Children 15 years of age and younger can also enter their fish heads for some amazing prizes like a Pelican 100 Kayak, Kokanee Mountain Zipline Tours as well as Fishing Equipment Packages.
These are some pretty amazing prizes just for going fishing and doing something that you love!
Another lake in BC that is offering a reward for catching fish is Lake Cowichan on Vancouver Island. Since 2019, 154 Cutthroat Trout have been tagged with high-reward spaghetti tags. You might be wondering what is a spaghetti tag? A spaghetti tag is a tough piece of long thin plastic that is attached to the fish. This tag will be located in the base of the dorsal fin. There are still around 97 fish which are still at large in the lake. Anyone who catches one of these tagged fish needs to report: the date and location at which they caught their tagged fish , the species, tag colour and number, fish length, and the method of capture. It’s up to you whether you keep it or not, but please make sure you are following regulations if they allow you to. If releasing the fish make sure you take a picture of yourself with the tagged fish (making sure you are practicing proper handling of it). If keeping it you can clip the spaghetti tag at the base with scissors or nail clippers and then call the number on the tag. The best part is anyone who does catch one of these tagged fish gets $100 in gift cards per fish that they catch!
Some of the fish have also been implanted with acoustic tags. What is an acoustic tag? An acoustic tag is a small tag that is surgically implanted, fed (to bait fish), injected, or externally attached to a fish. This then allows researchers to track the individual fish as well as the movements during spawning. By doing so this ensures the long term sustainability of the trout population as well as the effectiveness of the existing regulations. Anyone who catches one of these tagged fish is helping researchers understand the rate at which Cutthroat Trout are being harvested by Anglers.
The results so far: According to the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC the mortality of Cutthroat Trout by natural causes is greater than the mortality due to harvesting. The information suggested that spring is a time for natural mortality for the Cutthroat Trout due to the post spawning mortality of the mature fish.
Comox Lake, Horne Lake as well as the Oyster River are all part of the Cutthroat Trout Reward Tagging Program. If you ever get a chance to fish on Vancouver Island why not try for a cutthroat trout and get a $100 reward for catching one!
The Lower Mainland
The Bull Trout Reward Tagging Program is in Chilliwack Lake and Upper Pitt River. $100 reward tags are being used to assess the Bull Trout fishery.
The Bull Trout Reward Tagging Program is in Bridge Lake, Chimney Lake, Deka Lake, Horse Lake, Quesnel Lake and Tyee Lake. $100 reward tags are being used to assess the Bull Trout fishery.
The Skeena Fisheries Team has several ongoing $100 reward tagging programs for catching fish in their region. It is possible to catch a tagged fish anywhere in the Skeena Region so make sure you check your catch carefully as tags can sometimes be difficult to see. You definitely wouldn’t want to miss out on a $100 reward!
The options of catching a tagged fish in BC are truly endless with so many options and lakes in the regions to choose from!
After much research I found out that its not only BC that offers rewards for tagged fish. With the arrival of Salmon in the Canadian Arctic it may be a sign of climate change. The Arctic Salmon Program is researching fish biodiversity and coastal ecosystems by using a community led approach. A group of researchers and community leaders are working together to study these salmon and identify what this change might indicate about the Arctic ecosystem and how the presence of these salmon may affect native fish species in the Mackenzie River and its tributaries.
What sort research is being done? Once you turn in your Arctic Salmon they can check the age, see what they are eating by taking samples from the stomach and muscles, see if they are spawning, check to see if they are bringing pathogens as well as checking to see if they contain mercury by taking a muscle sample. This program offers a $25 gift card for the head and a $50 gift card for the whole salmon caught.
Falcon Lake Manitoba has a tagged fish program as well, although this one isn’t for research like the ones above but sure sounds like a fun one to try! The tagged fish in this lake are $1000 per tag, that’s right I said $1000! All you need to do is buy a $20 Falcon Lake Tagged Fish Ticket, and this $20 ticket then gets you entered for the entire year. This program has been running since 2017 and every year they add 6 more tagged fish to the program; 3 Small Mouth Bass and 3 Pike. By June 2021 there were 30 tagged fish in Falcon Lake with a total of $34,000. You might be wondering how the total comes to $34,000 when there are 30 tagged fish at a $1000. Well tagged fish #3 which is a Northern Pike is worth $5000 and still hasn’t been caught yet! You must make sure you buy your $20 ticket in order to get the reward as there have been a handful of people over the years who have caught tagged fish but haven’t been able to get reward as they didn’t have their ticket. Ian Young who runs the program said as of today they have paid out five fish worth $1000 a piece and in theory there are still 25 fish worth a total of $29,000!
The $5000 pike!!
Just imagine next time you set your line at Falcon Lake (hard water or open water) you just might have $1000 on the the end of it! If you are like me and like to buy lures, that money sure could pay for a lot of fishing Lures!!