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New rainbow trout stocked in Loon Lake

Freshwater Fisheries Society prepares for summer fishing

Loon Lake is ready for the summer fishing season, thanks in part to the Freshwater Fishing Society of B.C.

Fish culturist Graham Nessman restocked Loon Lake with 250 rainbow trout on May 18, just in time for the May long weekend. He backed his water-filled, temperature-controlled truck down the gravel boat ramp at a?u ?aama kanis (Loon Lake) Campsite, set up the pipe to release the fish into several inches of water, and opened the hatch.

The truck is equipped with three tanks and Nessman can release the fish from each tank individually. “When the fish are loaded at the hatchery we have a special fish counter that they pass through, s0 we know exactly how many are in each tank,” he explained.

The domestic fish aren’t released until they are catchable size: 8-10 inches long and at least 225 grams.

Loon Lake was his second stop of the day: he had released 500 fish into Long Lake in Nanaimo on his way up from the Vancouver Island Trout Hatchery in Duncan.

“The numbers of the fish are prescribed by the fisheries biologist that works for the Ministry of Forests. They come up with how many fish we are supposed to put into the lake and we provide that service,” he said.

The Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. is funded by freshwater fishing licence sales, so 100 percent of that revenue funds this program, he added. There are six hatcheries that raise and release rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, eastern brook trout, kokanee and steelhead for recreational fisheries and white sturgeon for conservation purposes.

In 2022, the society stocked 6.1 million rainbow trout, coastal cutthroat trout, westslope cutthroat trout, eastern brook trout and kokanee into 655 lakes across B.C.

“These fish are here for the benefit of the public—they are here for anglers,” Nessman explained while releasing the Loon Lake trout. “They are sterile rainbow trout so they won’t reproduce in this lake. They are here purely for fishing.”

Benjamin Berenshteyn and his family discovered the new fishing dock at a?u ?aama kanis (Loon Lake) campground after they moved to the Alberni Valley last November. “We heard of Loon Lake being really, really popular for trout fishing,” he said, taking a break from fishing on a sunny Thursday afternoon. It was a birthday trip to the lake for him.

Berenshteyn said he and his family have been to the area “three or four times” since their first visit. “We try to whenever we get the opportunity to fish,” he said.

He said it’s productive to stock the lake. “People love coming here to do a lot of things, like canoeing, paddle boarding” and camping.

In the short time it took Nessman to restock the lake, Berenshteyn’s brother, Isaiah, and another sibling caught two fish.

This was the second restocking to take place this spring, said Tristan Robbins, hatchery manager for Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. While Nessman released 250 on May 18, another 1,250 catchable-sized rainbow trout had been released into Loon Lake in April.

“The extra stocking (May 18) was to support the additional fishing pressure that is expected at Loon Lake as the result of the new fishing dock that was installed this past winter,” Robbins said.

“Loon Lake is stocked both in the spring and fall with catchable-sized rainbow trout.”

Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I proudly serve as the Alberni Valley News editor.
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