Cariboo-Chilcotin anglers are invited to team up with the local MLA to “shake off the blues” in a new-age fishing derby.
The COVID-safe event, put on by Angler’s Atlas, will launch this Saturday, Feb. 13 and run until March 7. Anglers in the Cariboo-Chilcotin will compete against other ridings in northern B.C. for the coveted crown of the “Ice Fishing Capital of Northern B.C.”
Six northern B.C. MLAs are on board, including Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson, who said the region’s renowned fish lakes should help them hook the win. The fish must be caught within the riding boundaries.
“There’s a number of people on the ice and I sure wish that fish that was caught a couple of weeks ago was caught next month,” Doerkson said, referring to a 27-pound lake trout caught in Horse Lake on Jan. 27. “I think we will do great. We can all use this right now for sure.”
The derby was launched as an innovative way to help families enjoy the outdoors. The event involves a mobile app called MyCatch, launched nearly three years ago as a way for anglers to help fisheries researchers collect better data on B.C.’s fisheries. A real-time leaderboard shows where anglers rank, tallying the numbers as new fish come in throughout the month.
“You just take a picture of the fish on a measuring device, and the app does the rest,” said Angler’s Atlas president Sean Simmons. “We are excited to work with our MLAs on this event. We’re all looking for new ways to stay active and engaged with our community during this pandemic.”
Simmons said they hope to sign up 500 anglers across Northern B.C. The entry fee for the fishing derby is $20, which means they will be able to award over $8,000 in prizes to the winning anglers.
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About 78 anglers have already signed up for the competition, which will pay $1,000 each to the winners of the longest lake trout, longest Rainbow and longest Kokanee and Brook trout, and $500 each for the longest northern Pike and longest Burbot. Other prizes range from the first fish caught to the smallest Kokanee.
The winning riding will also get to donate 50 per cent of the net proceeds to a charity of their choice. Doerkson has chosen the South Cariboo Health Foundation (SCHF) and an outdoor education program in Williams Lake. The South Cariboo Health Foundation has a “far reach” in the community, he said, while many students in the school program could benefit from the extra funds.
Brenda Devine, who is responsible for public relations and fundraising for the health foundation, said they appreciate being Doerkson’s charity of choice. The SCHF fundraises all year to provide much-needed equipment for the 100 Mile District General Hospital, with its most recent drive to outfit two suites in the hospital’s palliative care wing for people with high-end medical needs.
The foundation is meeting Feb. 24 to come up with an equipment wish list.
“It’s wonderful. There will always be something we will be buying,” Devine said. “We can make a point of dedicating it to this as well.”
“Best of luck to all of the fisher people out there, and shake off the blues,” Doerkson said. “This is an opportunity for people to get out and get some fresh air and have something exciting to participate in because we’re all needing that. Ice fish within your household and in your bubble and have some fun online.”
Doerkson, who has tried ice fishing in the past, will take his own chances of catching the big one. “I’m probably going to go out and drill a hole somewhere, maybe Dugan Lake,” he said. “I hope lots of people participate.”
Angler’s Atlas collaborates with fisheries researchers at numerous universities across Canada and the United States, and the results are showing great promise in a number of fields.
To register for the event, visit www.anglersatlas.com/tournament/469/shake-off-the-blues-2021.