Chris Stone herds up stocked trout into deeper water at Echo Lake during 2019 stocking program. Don Daniels photo

Chris Stone herds up stocked trout into deeper water at Echo Lake during 2019 stocking program. Don Daniels photo

Vancouver Island spring lake stocking to go ahead

Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. seasonal trout stocking on private land temporarily halted

A number of Vancouver Island lakes usually stocked each spring with catchable-sized trout came close to losing out as Mosaic Forest Management and the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development continued access negotiations.

But the two parties came to an agreement March 25 and the stocking program will proceed.

In short, Mosaic had not yet given road access approval for Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC (FFSBC) trucks to deliver the trout to Echo, Beavertail, Hawthorn, Helldiver, Kissinger, Lois, Loon, Rhododendrons, Wolf, Rheinhart, Reginald, Wowo, Ninim, Tadjiss and Rowbotham Lakes.

That put FFSBC in a difficult position.

“We can only keep a certain number of fish at the hatchery, so the fish that were grown for these lakes will be released into other lakes in the area,” said a statement from FFSBC Monday. “We have made the time sensitivity of the spring stocking clear to Mosaic and the Ministry, so they are aware of this.”

The FFSBC acts as a contractor to the MFLNRORD which manages the lakes in B.C. and decides what lakes are stocked.

“We are currently working with the Government of British Columbia on a fish stocking agreement for lakes on private lands managed by Mosaic Forest Management,” said a release on the Mosaic website. “Public access to these lakes remains open where access can be provided safely and in coordination with weather and operational conditions.

“Each year, Mosaic Forest Management works with MFLNRORD, and the FFSBC, to stock trout in lakes on private forest lands managed by Mosaic. The initiative benefits recreational fishing, as well as research and conservation of freshwater fish on Vancouver Island.”

The FFSBC released the good news this week.

“We just received word that a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the Ministry and Mosaic, and the access will be restored for stocking this spring,” says the release. “Stocking of those lakes will begin next week. You can check the stocking reports on our website for the latest updates on which lakes were stocked at”

A short example of stockings in 2019 were Reginald Lake – 600 rainbow, Spider Lake – 8,250 rainbow, Thetis Lake – 4,000 rainbow, Wolf Lake – 2,500 cutthroat, and Wowo Lake – 500 rainbow.

Each year the FFSBC stocks more than 800 lakes and rivers in B.C.

The stocked species include rainbow and cutthroat trout, eastern brook trout, char, kokanee and steelhead.

Of a unique key importance is the stocking of catchable-sized trout. This has an immediate impact on local fishing-tourism participation.

The Society has only been stocking B.C. waterbodies since 2003, but their records include data for all releases over the years. Meaning fishing sleuths can have a fairly good idea of what lakes could be turned on for their planned outing by accessing the FFSBC web site.

And how popular are the stocking programs? The FFSBC delays any announcement of stockings to the public because it creates too much angling pressure all at once.

Literally, some anglers will follow the stocking trucks to the lakes.

However, the FFSBC will provide that stocking information after the fish have been allowed to settle into their new habitat. And after crews get back into the office after their hectic stocking runs. That usually takes a couple of days or so.

Anglers are reminded to look at the life stage in the stocking record because not all stockings are of catchable size. Fry, fingerling and yearling-sized fish usually take a year or more after release before they are ready to give you a good tussle.

The FFSBC website also has information about origin and habitat preferences – and fishing tips – for the species they stock.