Community News                                          Tuesday June 1st 2010

Greg Clark Fishing Derby


Good things come to those who bait

Derby organizers hope for high numbers of fish and fishers

Craig Hill/Voice 



                                                                                                             Craig Hill/Voice Photos

Chris Gadsden's grandson, Max, holds a pikeminnow  tagged Tuesday by FVSS members at Cultus Lake.


he fishing will be good and hopefully so will the catching. Fishers will have a chance to reel in some good dough at the Greg Clark Family Fishing Derby Saturday June 19 and organizers promise it will be bigger and better than ever.


This year there is a bounty on pikeminnows in Cultus Lake and a $2 cash prize will be paid out for every one of the voracious fish caught no matter what size or weight. And if you are lucky enough to catch one of the tagged fish, then you'll get a cool $100.


Fraser Valley Salmon Society President, Frank Kwak, Vice President Nick Basok and Director Gerry Thomson were out on the lake Tuesday busily tagging fish in preparation for the upcoming derby.



                                  FVSS president Frank Kwak at Cultus Lake.


Pikeminnows are a problem because they reproduce so fast and can live for up to 30-years with mature fish weighing in at 3 or 4 pounds and that equates to a lot of salmon fry being eaten.


The pinkeminnow's digestive system is such that anything they eat shoots right through them. "Quite often when we catch them, they've been feeding on fry and when we bring them in they'll puke back up 3 or 4 of them," said Kwak.


Kwak told the Voice that they don't want to destroy the fish because they are native to the lake, they just want to cut down on their numbers and to help control the population. A seiner is helping out on the lake by netting them.


"In one set this year they got over 1200. Overall they haven't got a lot, I understand they've caught about 2500 to date so it's obviously getting better," said Kwak.


The Cultus pikeminnow removal program is funded by the Fraser River Salmon Table Society which is an umbrella group for First Nations groups, conservation organizations, sport fishers and the Commercial Salmon


FVSS director, Gerry Thomson was tagging Tuesday.


Advisory Board (CSAB) who, according to their website, work to "Foster the rebuilding of the salmon fishery and eco-systems in the Fraser Watershed."


The CSAB gave the FVSS $5000 for the Cultus pinkeminnow program and that money will allow the group to continue restorative work in and around the lake such as removing milfoil and enhancement work at the Inch Creek hatchery which raises smelts and releases them into the lake with hopes they'll return.


"What happened was about 3-years ago, the commercial fishermen in the late-run sockeye salmon wanted to fish for sockeye, however in the late-run salmon we have a mixture of interior fish and Cultus fish and if they allowed for that fishery they would wind up taking some Cultus fish and we can't afford to lose any fish," said Kwak.


"So the CSAB recommended that what they do is allow an exploitation rate of 30-per-cent and they would catch a number of sockeye that they would sell for $600,000 and use that to do restorative work in-river, in-stream and in-lake, rather than just trying to figure out what's going on in the ocean."


It's been an uphill battle, however due to the work of the FVSS, the pikeminnow population isn't worsening its actually decreasing. But having said that, they are inadvertently increasing cutthroat numbers in the lake. This is good for sport fishers but not for the salmon because they also feast on the fry.


The removal program was initiated 15-years ago by the local Fish and Game Club and the FVSS took over the job about 5-years ago.


Kwak said their objective with the Derby is two-fold; to catch pikeminnows and to teach people about fishing and the more people they can turn-on to the sport, the better.

                                           Tagged and ready to catch in the derby.


"We're trying to introduce people to sport fishing," he said. "We know that watching a computer or playing a video game is not nearly as wholesome as coming out here with your father or your grandfather or your mother or your cousin and learning how to fish."


Thomson said their sponsorship has blossomed to the point where they can now offer close to $20,000 in prize money this year.


The derby starts at daybreak and all the fish are to be weighed in by 2 pm. There is all kinds of prize categories for men, women and kids. Entry fees are $5 for adults (over 16) and $2 for juniors. Three-quarters of the prizes will be awarded on tickets purchased prior to the day of the event so it's a good idea to get yours early. If you can't get a ticket before derby day then you'll be able to do that on the June 19 at Main Beach. Tickets can be purchased at Fred's Custom Tackle, Chilliwack Dart &
Tackle and Rosedale Mini MartDon't lose your ticket stubs, you'll need those to collect the prizes.


For more information on the derby or how you can help or join the Fraser Valley Salmon Society, e-mail Chris Gadsden here or Frank Kwak here.

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