Over the past three years various Okanagan angling groups have been focused on promoting fishing to young families within the community. Getting young families out and introduced to fishing no doubt has numerous benefits! Not only do the youth get outside and away from today’s technology that tends to keep them from outdoor activity; but it also helps sustain our fisheries by improving license sales in which the revenues go towards fish stocking programs and fisheries management.
This year BC Fishn media (BCFishn.com) the BC Wildlife Federation and multiple fish and game clubs partnered up with the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC (GoFishBC.com) and the Ministry of Forests, Lands, & Natural Resources to help organize & host two Learn to Ice Fish events within the Okanagan. These free community events were part of the Learn to Fish Program Initiative that are designed to introduce participants to recreational fishing throughout British Columbia.
These ice fishing events presents excellent opportunity to introduce angling to the community! It provides ease of access, the ability to take large groups fishing without the use of boats, participants aren’t limited to shorelines as well it offers an exciting social aspect as groups can fish together.
This year the two events were hosted on the Okanagan, one at Yellow Lake on January 24th and one at Beaver Lake on February 7th. At each event the arrangement of the day was similar. As the families arrived they were welcomed at the GoFishBC registration tent. Thanks to the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC sponsor, Rapala Canada, each person was equipped with a ice fishing rod, reel and bait to use for the day. On the ice numerous experienced volunteers provided mentorship to the kids to help them learn how to ice fish. Thanks to the event’s sponsor Cabela’s Canada, ice fishing tents equipped with underwater cameras where provided for the kids to get a “fish eye view” of the underwater world! Each time a fish swam by the cameras it created much excitement and thrill throughout! To help re-energize the anglers a warm BBQ hot dog lunch along with hot chocolate was provided at no cost to all the participants.
Yellow Lake Event: Even with non ideal wet and slushy conditions it didn’t dampen the spirits of the young anglers; approximately 300 participants showed up throughout the day! The trout fishing action was on the slower side with one Brook Trout reeled in, but the Perch were plentiful throughout the day to help keep the kids encouraged. A big thanks goes out to local fish & game clubs that help hosted the event: Keremeos-Cawston Sportsmen Association, Penticton Fly Fishers, Osoyoos Wildlife Federation, Southern Okanagan Sportsmen Association & Peachland Sportsmen Association. Save on Foods Penticton also helped sponsor the BBQ lunch!
Beaver Lake Event: The location was first set to be located at Swan Lake near Vernon, however due to ice conditions and safety concerns the event was relocated to Beaver Lake near Winfield BC. This decision was made in part with the North Okanagan Search & Rescue Ice Rescue Team; a big thanks goes out for their assistance! The day had similar wet weather conditions as the Yellow Lake event, but over 125 participants still showed up! The fishing again was on the slower side with 7 Rainbow Trout caught but that didn’t tend to matter much as the kids were still having a great time outside. Thanks to the owners of the Beaver Lake Resort the organizing groups where provided the use of the resort parking and beach area. Thanks to the Oceola Fish & Game Club for sponsoring the BBQ hot dog lunch and to members of the Peachland Sportsmen Association and Okanagan Fisheries Foundation for their volunteer efforts during the event.
The 2015 Learn to Ice Fish was a success thanks to all the volunteers, organizing groups, sponsors and most of all to the families that brought the youth out to the events. This is the third year in a row that the organizing groups have hosted these ice fishing events within the Okanagan and we will continue doing so as long as the youth keep showing up to Learn to Fish!
For more pictures of these events please check out our BC Fishn Facebook Album.
Tight lines & please take a youth fishing!