Reel in a fish on Comox Lake this winter and you might just land yourself some prize money for new fishing gear at the same time.
As part of a research project aimed at assessing the health of the lake’s cutthroat trout population, biologists with the Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations have attached coloured “spaghetti” tags to approximately 100 adult cutthroat trout on Comox Lake.
The tags have a four-digit identification number and phone number for the local Fish and Wildlife office. Anglers who land a tagged fish should clip the tag off the fish, then contact the office to provide basic information, including date and time of catch, and report whether the fish was kept or released. Anyone who provides a numbered tag to the Nanaimo Fish and Wildlife office, by mail or in person, will receive a $20 or $100 gift card that can be redeemed at a local tackle shop.
This is the first of a two-year research project that will help evaluate the effectiveness of existing regulations and ensure that trout are not over-fished. Comox Lake supports one of the highest-use lake fisheries on Vancouver Island, with most anglers focused on large-bodied cutthroat trout.
Cutthroat trout in Comox Lake forage on other fish species, such as kokanee and stickleback, allowing some fish to reach sizes of up to 60 centimetres (23.6 inches) and 1.8 kilograms (four pounds). In response to public concerns about declining catch rates and fish size, new
fishing regulations for Comox Lake were implemented in 2013, restricting harvest of cutthroat trout to sizes between 30 and 50 centimetres.
Results from the tagging project will provide valuable information about the lifespan and life cycle of cutthroat trout and help ensure the fishery’s long-term sustainability. The project is a co-operative effort involving the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C., as a private non-profit organization with a mandate to conserve and enhance B.C.’s freshwater fish resources, and the Courtenay and District Fish and Game Protective Association.
For more information, contact the Fish and Wildlife office in Nanaimo at 250 751-7220.