Gone fishing 

Second annual Alta Lake Derby gives Dad’s Day new angle

Forget the brunch.

Take the bait and grab Dad for the second annual Whistler Angling Club Fishing Derby, presented by Whistler Flyfishing and the Whistler Angling Club.

The derby takes place from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 16.

With fish size and fish stocks up this year at Alta Lake, it’s a prime time to test the waters.

"We’re pretty excited about getting people back on the waters," says Tom Cole, eight-year veteran of the 10-year old Whistler Angling Club.

The size of fish caught this year has been averaging about 18 inches, with the top catch at 22 inches. Last year’s derby-winning fish was 16 inches.

Since the introduction in 2000 of sterilized cuttthroat trout (who have a lifespan of around five years) into Alta Lake, the size of kokanee fish stock (a landlocked salmon) has been slowly increasing.

The Ministry of Fisheries began introducing trout to reduce the stickelback population, which was making things tough on the kokanee.

In adjoining Green Lake, where a similar plan was introduced, the size of fish has been even greater.

This was the first time stocks had been introduced at Alta Lake since the mid-50s, and is part of the ministry’s fisheries-related environmental performance indicators plan, that rates annual fish stocks in terms of percentage of stocks above or below target levels, levels of stock caught per annum, and fishing impacts.

The derby is open to all ages and is family-friendly.

"We’d like to see the community come out and celebrate the rebirth of angling in Whistler, along with their Dads," says Paul Beswetherick, of the Whistler Angling Club.

Registration takes place between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. at Lakeside Park in Alta Vista. A registration fee of $10 for adults and $5 for children accompanied by an adult includes entry fee, day license, picnic and a chance at draw prizes.

"It’s really supposed to be a fun day, we want to get out there early on the water when it’s calm, then have the prizes and barbecue," says Cole.

"This year there are things for the under six year-old crowd. Maybe we’ll see how many stickelback they can fit into a bucket!"

Cole says proceeds from the event will go towards the Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group, building new platforms and kiosks on lakes, improved signage and regulation signs on outerlying lakes.

Ian Fairweather is MC for the event.

A limited supply of complimentary fishing gear and boats will be available on a first come, first served basis.

Regular B.C. fishing regulations apply, which dictate that all fishing done in moving waters must be catch and release, with the use of single-barbless hooks, and no bait.

The fish must be handled as little as possible, to ensure their survival, says Beswetherick.

Staffers at Whistler Fly Fishing emphasize these rules also apply near Cougar Mountain, known as the "trophy lake" area. Keener anglers or visitors to Whistler this weekend should be aware that flies must also be used at this location.

As part of the event, photos provided by the Whistler Museum and Archives will also be on display, featuring Rainbow Lodge, a major fishing centre in Whistler during the first half of the century.

Whistler’s fishing guides also provide support as on-water judges, and Brian Niska will be doing a casting demonstration from the dock at Lakeside Park.

Prizes include a two night stay and boat rental at Peaceful Cove Resort on Lac Des Roche for up to four people, and a one night stay for two at Tyax Lodge courtesy of the Tyax Mountain Resorts.

Pre-registration June 14 and 15 takes place at Whistler Flyfishing, located at 103-4338 Main Street.

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