On Wednesday 60,000 fish got away when the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C.’s Clearwater hatchery released rainbow trout and kokanee salmon yearlings into Chimney Lake.
“We do this every year,” said fisheries technician Craig Adamson as 50 students from Cataline elementary in Williams Lake watched and waited for their turn to release some fish into the lake. “Out of our Clearwater hatchery alone we stock 300 lakes annually.”
The 20,000 rainbow trout hatched from eggs taken from Dragon Lake and the 40,000 kokanee came from waterways near Cranbrook and south of Revelstoke, Adamson told the students.
“The kokanee weigh about two and a half grams and the rainbows about 15 grams,” Adamson said as he climbed up on the truck to release some of the fry from the truck’s tanks directly through a pipe into the lake.
As the fish swam, leaped from the water or came close to the shore the students were enthralled.
When Adamson was done, Mike Ramsay, the fish and wildlife section head for the Ministry of Forests, Natural Resource Operations in the Cariboo instructed the students to line up for a bucket and some fish to release.
“I want you to give your fish names,” he told the students.
Because it was his birthday, 12-year-old Dillon Alberts was first in line.
“It was awesome to get to go first,” Alberts said after he released his fish. “I named my fish Steve and he keeps coming back,” he pointed.
Eleven-year-old Katelynn Hill said she called her fish Stephen, Bob, Henry and Junior.
“Stephen was my favourite because he was the biggest of all of the ones in my bucket,” Hill smiled.
Adamson estimated the water temperature of the lake is 14 C and said that’s pretty warm already.
“Warm for the fish too because their water was 9 C.”
One hundred per cent of the money collected through freshwater fishing licenses in B.C. goes to fund freshwater fisheries like the one Adamson works for.
“It’s great because it’s a real user fee,” he said of the return.