Ministry of Environment lake specialist Lee Williston gave an update on the small mouth bass situation in our watershed during the Horsefly River Roundtable meeting Dec. 15.
Small mouth bass were first detected in Beaver Creek in 2006.
Small mouth bass is an aggressive predator that out compete natural fish stocks for food, eventually depleting all natural stocks of fish, including salmonids.
It currently occupies 55 kilometers of the Beaver Creek system ranging from the confluence with the Quesnel River upstream through a chain of six lakes.
The presence of bass in the Quesnel River has not been confirmed.
In spring 2010, a small mouth bass was captured in Big Lake.
Since that time all avenues to streams flowing into Big Lake have been “bass proofed” in that there is no way for bass to spread from Big Lake in any direction, if indeed they become established in the lake.
Potential eradication measures are being evaluated by an expert in bass control.
Six lakes in the Kelowna area were recently treated successfully to eradicate populations of small-mouth bass, which were introduced by unknown individuals some years ago.
All of the information gained through this process will be used in formulating a plan for our area.
It may well be that after millions of dollars being spent, the bass will one day be eradicated from our watershed.
Bass are very easily transported by people in coolers, bags of water, buckets, anything that holds water.
Bass fishermen may not have any concept of the history of our watershed. The salmon runs in our rivers and lakes support and generate tourism.
It is up to us to keep our eyes open and watch for trucks with large water coolers in the back. Listen to your neighbour bragging about the bass he has caught back east or wherever, showing off his trophies.
Someone at the meeting asked if there were any penalties for being caught transplanting bass, and someone else suggested it all depended on who caught the criminal, a fisherman or the police.
Those who bring bass into our watershed are committing an illegal act so people should not feel bad about reporting them to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, police or a conservation officer.