Drought forces angling closures in Okanagan

No angling restrictions in the East Kootenay yet, but that could change depending on drought conditions.

With temperatures soaring across the province, the B.C. government has announced a Level 3 drought rating in various regions and have also taken the addition step of suspended angling in streams and rivers throughout the South Okanagan.

Effective on July 15th, through to Sept. 15, all streams and rivers in the Similkameen drainage as well as the Kettle and West Kettle Rivers, and all tributary  streams in these areas will be closed to angling. Lake fishing is not affected by the order.

The angling restrictions have been put in place to protect fish stocks at a time when they are vulnerable due to low flows and high water temperatures.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations did not provide a fisheries biologist for an interview.

According to Lance Page, the manager of the Kootenay Trout Hatchery, high water temperatures aren’t good for fish health.

“Higher temperatures put fish under stress and the higher temperatures would create a higher mortality on catch and release,” he said.

In the context of the East Kootenays, there is currently a Level 2 drought rating, meaning that the region is classified as dry. Whether that means angling restrictions will be put in place remains to be seen, according to a ministry spokesperson.

“It would be inappropriate for the ministry to speculate on if/when drought conditions would warrant angling restrictions in the East Kootenay region,” said Greig Bethel, a public affairs officer with the ministry.

Currently, there are no angling restrictions in place due to drought conditions in the East Kootenay.

Bethel said government biologists are monitoring roughly 60 other key angling streams throughout the province and that additional closures could be possible, depending on what drought conditions are.

“Ministry staff are closely monitoring river levels and ecosystems and may upgrade the drought level if the weather continues to have a negative effect on stream flows and water supply,” Bethel said.

In addition to angling restrictions in the Okanagan, the government has also placed an angling closure on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands on July 3.