Dewar Lake is being considered for a brood lake which would see no ice fishing, trout release, bait ban and single barbless hook use only. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Ice fishing at Dewar Lake on the chopping block

Ministry staff are eyeing the popular spot for a brood lake

Eliminating ice fishing is one of the changes being proposed for Dewar Lake in the Cariboo as ministry staff eye it for a brood lake to support rainbow trout that originate from the Horsefly River.

Other changes being considered are trout release, single barbless hook use only and a bait ban.

Current regulations allow trout and char, but no more than one over 50 cm, two from streams, one dolly varden or bull trout and three lake trout.

The closing date for public consultation on the changes is Jan. 24, 2021 at midnight.

Wildwood resident Edward Koepke said there will be a lot of people sad to see it go.

It’s a 20-minute drive to the lake from his home, something he’s done the last three or four years a couple of times a week.

“It’s my favourite spot,” Koepke said. “There are other lakes, but when you’ve got your favourite, you’ve got your favourite.”

He said the lake itself is a selling feature for people who own properties alongside it as Dewar Lake has some ‘beautiful fish.’

Read more: B.C.’s freshwater stocking program complete despite pandemic challenges

Fishing luck is hit and miss, but over the years he has caught some nice ones, he added.

The ministry website notes the Cariboo Region Small Lakes Management Plan was reviewed and updated in early 2020 which included review by Cariboo region fish and aquatic habitat staff and consultation with local guides and resident anglers.

As a result, many stocked lakes were identified for changed angling regulations.

“A new brood lake was identified as a need for the provincial stocking program to support the new Horsefly strain of rainbow trout,” the website noted.

“After reviewing criteria — a large, productive lake with good access and proximity to Clearwater Trout Hatchery, relatively low angler effort — Dewar Lake was one of the few suitable lakes. As an indirect benefit, these protective regulations should allow more fish to reach large sizes.”

Fish population and angler use on Dewar Lake has been monitored regularly since it was originally stocked decades ago, the ministry stated, noting the lake is productive and capable of producing large fish.

Stocked rainbow trout typically range from 0.5 – two kg and angler effort was last estimated in 2017 at 1,200 angler days.

The ministry declined comment, but referred the Tribune to the public consultation page on its website.

Read more: Quesnel Lake fish study gets green light to continue critical work

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Wildwood resident Edward Koepke said he and many others would be sad to see changes made for fishing use at Dewar Lake, presently being proposed by the government. (Photo submitted)

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