Three small ponds built by Wayne and Val Biffert initially inspired by well water problems on their rural property have become a happy home for the Fishing Forever program.
In June, as they have done for years, Wayne and Val Biffert invited Williams Lake residents to enjoy an afternoon of fishing fun at “Biff’s Ponds.”
This particular fishing day was a special event to say thank you to the BC Wildlife Federation, the Williams Lake Sportsmen’s Association and BC’s Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C.’s Go Fish program, and to celebrate the province’s free Family Fishing weekend, Wayne explained.
Fishing Forever is a partnership between the BC Wildlife Federation and Community Living of BC, offering opportunities for people living with disabilities to enjoy fishing and other outdoor activities.
Among the guests were residents of Jubilee House and the Williams Lake Clubhouse members who Wayne says have an open invitation to fish at the ponds.
“The best thing today is watching the expressions on my clients’ faces,” said Gail MacLellan, Jubilee House activities director/supported activities co-ordinator.
“They were so pumped to come out here and fish — they’re having a blast.”
Wayne explained that the three ponds now on their property originated when he discovered that the well providing water to their house was was only 18 feet deep.
“You run a sprinkler for an hour and a half and the well runs out,” Wayne said. “I had a backhoe so I dug a small pond by the house, only five feet deep and another down farther.
“The problem was that the sprinklers were always plugging up with bugs and you had to clean out the sprinklers sometimes twice a day. About 13 years ago a friend said ‘Throw some fish in there and they’ll eat the bugs,’” Wayne explained.
“So that’s how it got started. We now have enough water for anything we need and the fish keep the bugs down.”
That first year, he said they stocked each pond with 20 fish.
“The next year we dug the bottom pond a lot bigger; the next year we dug a third pond and enlarged the first one,” Wayne says.
“I went to the BC Wildlife Federation annual general meeting, knowing that Freshwater Fisheries would be there, too, to hit them up with an idea. The fish I had been getting weren’t sterilized and by the time I had them for a year to a year and a half, they would go into a spawn.
“Their flesh gets darker and softer — not good quality of fish. I wanted to get fish from the Freshwater Fisheries in Abbotsford because they’re sterilized — they stock all the provincial lakes.”
He explained that when Freshwater Fisheries found out about the guests who were invited to the ponds, including Jubilee House and various groups of elementary school kids, they offered to donate the trout.
Williams Lake Sportsmen’s Association funded the event and members provided a shirt and a cap for each participant.
Both Jubilee House and the Williams Lake Clubhouse are with the Cariboo Chilcotin Canadian Mental Health Association. Jubilee House is a nine-bed, 24-hour facility and the Clubhouse is a drop-in centre.
Williams Lake Clubhouse co-ordinator Catherine Doverspike explained that their activities include celebrating birthdays, having coffee together, making lunches, going for nature drives, playing mini-golf, bowling, cooking hotdogs, visiting Scout Island to look at the geese and camping at Gavin Lake every July — an outing they all eagerly anticipate.
She added that members of the Williams Lake Sportsmen’s Association worked one-on-one with the guests, offering help and expertise to make the event more fun. “This is something different for them and they’re loving it,” Doverspike said.
“This is gorgeous today.
“Everybody’s having fun.”