fishing 

In 1914 Alex and Myrtle Philip lured Vancouverites to the Rainbow Lodge on Alta Lake with tales of lengthy stringers of trout taken from local lakes and streams. Whistler started out as a summer resort and one of the mainstays of the Rainbow Lodge's popularity was the excellent angling in the valley. Over the years ski lifts, golf courses, condos and gift shops have outshone angling as something to do in Whistler. Developments bulldozed forward and the local fish stocks started to drop off. No on knows exactly why, but increased siltation due to development and logging, over fishing and stream diversions have all been blamed for the declining numbers of fish in the local system, but one question remained unanswered — how many fish are left? In 1995 a group comprised of the B.C. Ministry of Environment, local anglers, Rotarians and Resort Municipality of Whistler representatives are preparing to evaluate Whistler's fishery in an attempt to restore the fishing in the valley to its former greatness. An idea that has been floating around for decades, to evaluate the fish-bearing streams and lakes of the Whistler Valley through a trapping and tagging program, was reeled in Monday morning on the banks of the River of Golden Dreams. Over the course of the summer fish traps will be installed on the River of Golden Dreams, 21 Mile Creek and Crabapple Creek. Volunteer groups and municipal staff will be tagging the Rainbow Trout, Dolly Varden and Kokanee caught in the traps, tagging them and releasing them back into the system. According to Rob Knight, a fisheries technician with the Ministry of Environment Lands and Parks, plans for a fisheries inventory of the Whistler Valley were in the works as early as the late 1970s. The purpose of the traps will be to check the migratory patterns of fish that reside in Green Lake and Alta Lake. The data that comes from the program will be used to plan how to best enhance the fish population already living in Whistler's waters. Knight says the inventory in Whistler is going to be difficult because of the extent of Whistler's waterways. "In most places we only have to deal with one lake and few tributaries," Knight says. "But with this project we've got two lakes and so many possible combinations." Keith Bennett, parks superintendent with the RMOW, says it's time to evaluate Whistler's angling potential now to diversify the resort. Bennett says fishing is best in the spring and the summer, times typically slower in Whistler. If the fishing potential can be evaluated and promoted it may be another step toward a well-rounded, four season resort. "If Whistler was a well-known fishing destination in the old days, there is no reason for us not to tap into that potential," Bennett says. Don MacLaurin of the Whistler Rotary Club says Monday's meeting was the culmination of five years of planing and work. "This is very exciting," MacLaurin says. "For me this is the biggest day for fisheries in Whistler since we starting working on these projects." Ian Fairweather, president of the Whistler Angling Club, says this summer is "huge as far as our local fishery goes." The Angling Club has been trying to get an inventory done in the valley for years, but this is the first time talk has gone beyond the planning stages to in-stream work. He says Knight and the Ministry of Environment are very keen to get local organizations involved in local fishery projects. "The province just doesn't have the money to have their employees out here counting fish," Fairweather says. "If they can co-ordinate the projects, we can provide the bodies to do the legwork. This is going to be a great summer."

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