The Kootenay Lake Angler Incentive Program (KLAIP) continues until June 2021, when the $50,000 Kingfisher boat package grand prize winner will be drawn.
The four depots receiving the rainbow and bull trout heads have seen a total of 8,910 entries, which will give the juvenile kokanee a chance to grow.
The program is designed to help the iconic kokanee salmon population to recover. Kootenay Lake's adult kokanee populations collapsed in 2013.
Conservationists have been trying to reverse the decline by conducting egg fertilization and fry release for the past five years.
But the in-lake abundance of rainbow and bull trout is suppressing the survival of the kokanee. Local anglers are encouraged to catch rainbow and bull trout in the main body of Kootenay Lake and then turn in the heads to one of four depots to enter a monthly prize draw worth $1,000.00.
In January, 180 entries were submitted at Crawford Bay Market, Gill and Gift, Woodbury Resort and Wyndell Foods, and Outdoor Gear.
There are some hearty fishers out on the lake, taking advantage of what made Kootenay Lake famous throughout North America – the increased chance of catching a large trout or char in the winter months. January’s lucky $1,000 gift certificate draw winner was Kip Lippa of Nelson, with an entry at Gill & Gift depot.
The program is supported by the West Arm Outdoors Club, B.C. Wildlife Federation, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, and the Province of B.C. The program's target is to increase rainbow and bull trout retention from 50 percent of fish caught to 90 percent.
Surveys of anglers indicate they believe that they are doing more for conservation by releasing fish. The program's target level for additional retention will not create conservation issues for the trout and will help the kokanee recover.
"The sports fishery on Kootenay Lake was once renowned for its stock of large Gerrard rainbow trout and kokanee salmon," West Arm Club President Gord Gunderud said.
"We want to get back to a robust sports fishery in our region. Our goal with this incentive program is to restore a balance in predator/prey relationships to allow kokanee abundance to increase."
The first year of the incentive program runs until June 1, 2021, when the grand prize winner will be drawn.
For more information and incentive program rules, please visit: bcwf.bc.ca/kootenay-lake-angler-incentive-program