Ice fishing is in full swing in the South Cariboo, and while most anglers are abiding by the rules, there are some out there who could be in for trouble if they don’t change their ways.
100 Mile House Conservation Officer James Zucchelli says his office has received a number of complaints recently about a variety of issues and it’s time to remind recreational fishers of the regulations they must abide by.
He notes one of the biggest complaints he’s been receiving is of people leaving their garbage on the ice. That includes cigarette butts, which he says are damaging to the environment as they eventually end up in the lake.
Fly fisher Kerri Mingo has seen the damage cigarette butts cause. She once hooked a fish and was surprised at how thin it was, but on opening it for cleaning, she discovered the filter from a cigarette lodged in the entrance to its stomach.
“I’m sure many fish suffer and die due to starvation because of this kind of pollution.”
Leaving cigarette butts or any other kind of garbage on the ice constitutes littering and is subject to a $115 fine, Zucchelli notes.
Another common problem, he says, is people over fishing their daily limit of five, by catching five in the morning and going out in the afternoon for another five.
“They’re ripping themselves off in the long run and poaching from their neighbours who go by the rules.”
He’s had several calls about over fishing at Bridge, Deka and Sulphurous lakes and says he’s also concerned about the image it portrays on fishers, in general.
“This is not a meat fishery commercial harvest. It’s recreational.”
The initial fine for this offence is $100 and another $150 per over-limit fish will be charged, up to a maximum of $1,000. In addition, fishing gear used in the commission of the offence will be confiscated.
Fishing with more than one line or leaving a line unattended will net the offender a $150 fine and fishing without a licence will draw a penalty of $115.
Unmarked fishing holes can be a safety hazard to both children and animals and Zucchelli says people should mark their hole with a stick and cover it with snow when they leave.
Another concern is using fish parts of any kind for bait. This practice can potentially transfer disease and bacteria from one body of water to another.
Ice huts left on the ice until late in the season are also a cause for concern, he adds.
“Ice huts must be taken off prior to break-up while it’s still safe to do so. We get calls every year and spend time tracking people down.”
While conservation officers cannot be everywhere, Zucchelli says they do use information forwarded by concerned citizens in dealing with offences. He encourages people to phone in information, with details, such as the time and date, vehicle description and licence plate number. He adds people may be asked to testify, but not in every circumstance. The number to call to report poachers, polluters and problem wildlife is 1-877-952-7277.