By Jack Simpson
‘Research’: verb - "To study (something) thoroughly so as to present in a detailed, accurate manner."
What research does for the ‘fisher’ is that it ensures success during the fishing season. Where to begin? How about a close, reasonably scientific look at the various stillwaters that we have in this area, including which ones are ‘productive’, which ones have large concentrations of coarse fish---plus that really important question: where are ‘the Big Boys?’
Methodical research will tell you all this and more. You accumulate the information and using your own deductive reasoning, select what you think are the lakes worthy of your attention and where on the lakes will be your best chance of success.
So, no: if you thought I was going to list all my favourite, productive, trophy lakes and give you directions, forget it! But, I will provide you with all the information required to make your own decisions, OK?
The following is the step-by-step process to acquire information that will substantially increase your fishing success:
Water--especially ‘fish-able water’. Where? It's all on the internet! Start with Google Earth, the very best friend a fisher ever had. If you do not have Google Earth on your computer, download it right now!
But that is only step #1 to access all the information you need to find fishable water. Next go to http://www.badger.rchomepage.com/bc_google.html. Save this file in your documents file on your computer. Follow the instructions and download bc_lakes.kml
What you now have is a huge number of named lakes in all of BC on your Google Earth program. Not all, but a very healthy percentage of them.
So, what now? Easy: open Google Earth and scroll to BC(that will be the province that is filled with little silver fish), each signifying a lake.
Scroll to your local area, increase the scale and find some lakes in an area you'd like to sample. What do you look for in the close-up overhead view?
- Shoals, which are large areas of shallow water, showing up as broad, light-coloured tan or white borders around the lake shore. It's where most of the aquatic insects are produced in great numbers. Lots of insects, lots of fish food.
- Dark blue deep water that provides safety from predators and a storage of oxygenated water for winter survival.
- Inflow and outflow streams, refreshes the water in the lake, keeps it oxygenated, also may provide spawning areas for natural reproduction.
- Access: you need to get your boat into it, right?
- The name of the lake (to enable further research).
Now, with the name of a perspective lake, we really get down to details.
The BC Ministry of Environment maintains a database of all freshwaters in BC (lakes and rivers) and records of tests made on those waters.
Ministry of Environment Fisheries Inventory Data Queries is name of the data base, you can ‘Google’ the name or copy and paste this link:
There are three critical types of information that we require:
1-What fish are in the lake?
2-What fish are being stocked in the lake?
3-What kind of food supply is there for fish in the lake?
The fisheries data inventory has ALL we want to know about water.
1. What fish are actually IN our chosen lake? Scroll down the left hand column and click on ‘Fish Distributions’, which opens to a query screen. As an example, let's put in ‘Till Lake’ in the space marked ‘Gazetted Name/Alias’. Scroll down to Region and choose ‘5-Cariboo’, click ‘Submit’.
On your screen there are now 60 individual observations of the fish that have been in that lake.
2. Now, what is in there currently? Return to the main queries page. Click on ‘Stocking Query’, put in the lake name and the region and because of a fish's life span, we are only interested in what has been stocked in the last 10 years, OK? So pick a range between 2002 and 2012. ‘Submit’.
There you have the numbers of fish and the strains that have been ‘planted’ in Till Lake, 10,000 yearling diploid Blackwater strain rainbows every year.
Stocking info we're interested in:
- Fish Count: 10,000 which is pretty heavy stocking, which tells us that Till is fished at a moderate+ rate over a season
- Yearling: Kept in the hatchery until about a year old, ensuring high survival rates
- Release Date: Approximately the end of June every year.
- Source: Dragon Lake
- Strain: Blackwater
- Genotype: Diploid, (meaning natural male and female fish and potential spawners in 4-five years)
3. Will the lake provide food for fish, will it grow BIG fish?
On the main queries page, scroll down to ‘Chemical, Physical and Fish Queries’. Again, submit the lake’s name, region and select ‘Chemical Info’ and ‘Submit’.
What we see is the results of water sampling over a 20 year time span.
Two readings we are interested in:
- ‘pH’, which is the measurement of acidity or alkalinity of the water. 7.0 is neutral, 9.0 is alkaline and ideal for providing an almost perfect environment for aquatic bugs to grow.
- ‘TDS’ which means Total Dissolved Solids, in layman's terms, the stuff in the water that zoo-plankton feed on. Healthy population of zoo-plankton, feeds aquatic insects, which in turn, grows BIG fish. A TDS of 600PPM is a very rich and productive body of water, so given a chance, fish will gain about 2 lbs per year in that lake.
So, there you have it; a brief description of how to do your own research on lakes, and how to use the resources available to you. Play with it, check out your own potentially, ‘favourite lakes’.
Questions? Just ask. The ONLY ‘dumb question’ is the one you DON'T ask. Email me at homewaters2011@ gmail.com.
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