Wanted: your fish guts!

Partially consumed Kokanee from the stomach of a Bull Trout. Photo: Karen Bray.

In 2018—19 the Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) in the Columbia Region is funding 55 projects for a total project investment of more than $6 million. One of those projects, coordinated by the Province of B.C., is adding nutrients to Arrow Lakes Reservoir and one component of the project is to better understand the eating habits and behaviour of the predator fish.

To achieve this, biologists with the Province want your fish guts. The goal is to determine if the larger piscivorous fish, such as Bull Trout or Rainbow Trout, prefer to eat smaller or larger-sized prey. Analysing stomach contents can provide the answer, but biologists need anglers’ assistance to provide “their guts.”

The challenge is that some anglers clean their fish out on the water, so the guts go straight over the side, but bringing those large fish back to the creel technicians on survey days will provide very valuable information. The creel surveys operate on Arrow Lakes Reservoir five days per month, year-round.

If anglers on Arrow Lakes Reservoir see the creel survey crew at the boat ramp, then fish stomach contents are being collected that day. The guts can be bagged and kept on ice, or the whole fish can be kept, but leave the head on so that the length can be recorded.

Stomach content analysis in the Arrow Lakes Reservoir is not new, but only 250 stomachs have been collected since 2014. Biologists are hoping that more can be collected in 2018.

Preliminary results from previous years show fish 45+ centimetres in length prefer to feed on Kokanee that are 15+ centimetres. Young Kokanee, less than one-year-old, tend not to be a significant portion of their diet.

This work, along with Hill Creek Spawning Channel operations, is funded by FWCP through its annual ongoing projects, which are delivered with support from the Province of B.C. The Nutrient Restoration Program in Arrow Lakes Reservoir also receives funding from Columbia Power.

Columbia Region News