After weeks of COVID-19 lockdowns, many British Columbians are looking for outdoor activities that lend themselves to physical distancing, and that might be part of the reason for a surge in freshwater fishing licences and a renewed interest in the sport.
The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC reports that resident angler licence sales are up 16 per cent over 2019, which was itself a strong year for spring licence sales. Total fishing licence sales are up three per cent over last year, and many young adults are taking up the sport, in both urban and rural settings.
“As a sport that naturally allows for social distancing while still offering individuals and families an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, freshwater fishing is the perfect summer activity,” says Andrew Wilson, President, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC. “We are excited to see more B.C. residents enjoying the fishing in their own backyard. We hope people will take their fishing enjoyment on their travels and explore rivers and lakes throughout the province. They will discover why B.C. is a world class fishing destination!”
Youth aged 16–24 have most enthusiastically taken up the sport, with a 55 per cent increase in licence purchases compared to 2019. There has been a 15 per cent increase in licence purchases by those in the 25–34 age group, and a 10 per cent increase amongst those aged 35–44. Youth under 16 years old are not required to purchase a licence.
Hatchery staff were able to safely continue working through the spring, which allowed the Freshwater Fisheries Society to maintain operations and meet stocking targets throughout the province, even when access was closed for safety reasons.
“We were able to continue our fish stocking through the spring, releasing as many yearling and catchable size fish as in previous years,” says Tim Yesaki, Vice President of Operations. “We worked with fantastic staff at regional and provincial parks to ensure stocking continued, even behind locked gates. As those parks reopened, anglers were rewarded with fantastic fishing. We are pleased that we were able to meet the stocking plans to ensure new anglers, as well as our frequent anglers, have a great fishing experience this summer.”
With non-resident Canadians and international anglers not able to travel here this summer, fishing guides and lodges, most of which are located in rural B.C., are hoping the jump in resident licence sales will lead to more B.C. anglers booking fishing trips and holidays this year. Area lakes that have been stocked this year include Barnes Lake near Ashcroft; Tsotin Lake near Cache Creek; 6 Mile, Kersey, and 4 Mile Lake near Clinton; Morgan and Pat Lake near Savona; and Pavilion, Crown, and Turquoise Lake near Pavilion.
The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC was created in 2003 as a private, not-for-profit organization, funded mainly through freshwater fishing licence revenues. In partnership with the Province, the Society annually stocks six million trout, char, and kokanee salmon in 800 B.C. lakes. It also manages special hatchery programs for endangered species including white sturgeon, conducts fisheries research, education, and conservation programs, and works to make angling more accessible for all. To find out more, visit www.gofishbc.com.