Anglers should be honing the points of their hooks and pinching their barbs in preparation for the Castlegar Invasive Fish Out Derby on the Columbia River, July 22 to 31.
Derby entrants can target two invasive predators, walleye and northern pike, and be eligible to win $3,000 worth of prizes, including a $600 prize for the largest walleye, and $750 for combined total walleye length.
The Invasive derby fishing borders run from below Hugh Keenleyside Dam to the B.C-U.S. border just downstream from the Waneta Dam and confluence with the Pend d’Oreille River.
All entries must register on Anglers Atlas’ “MyCatch mobile app,” which will track their catch size and count, and where and when it was caught via a GPS tracking device. The App was developed as a citizen science tool to help fisheries researchers better understand the state of a particular fishery.
Anglers must fish with rod and reel, whether spincasting, trolling or fly fishing, but barbless, single hooks are required as per the BC fishing regulations. There is a generous 16 per day walleye limit and no limit for pike, but anglers must dispatch all pike caught.
Both walleye and pike are invasive species illegally introduced into the Columbia River and have persisted despite the generous limits and efforts to reduce their populations.
Walleye was first introduced to the Columbia River system in 1960 when they were stocked into Lake Roosevelt in the U.S., approximately 100 km south of the BC and Washington border. The Walleye migrated up river into the Canadian portion of the river between Waneta and Castlegar.
Northern pike’s presence is more recent, first making their way into the BC portion of the Columbia River in 2009. Pike are believed to have migrated from Flathead Lake in Montana into Lake Pend Oreille in the U.S. and eventually the B.C. portion of the Pend d’Oreille River and the Columbia River.
There have been ongoing efforts to suppress the pike population by the province, Okanagan Nation Alliance and various organizations through gill netting and angler incentive programs like the Invasive Fish Out Derby.
Local Castlegar businesses are helping promote the event in unique ways. The Lion’s Head Pub in Robson is serving a Chillbilly Cheeseburger as a nod to Castlegar fishing guide Graham Cloutier of Chillbilly Charters. Tailout Brewing also joined forces with local artist Tara Smith who is creating a special label for a beer that’s being introduced specifically for the event.
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