Drought leads to fishing bans on Nicola Valley rivers, stream

Nicola Valley has highest drought rating and angling banned on three important salmon streams

By Cam Fortems

Kamloops This Week

The province has raised the Nicola Valley to the highest drought rating and banned angling on three important salmon streams.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Development has banned fishing on the Coldwater and Nicola rivers, as well as on the Spius Creek tributary.

Earlier week, a Thompson-Nicola Regional District director told KTW the Nicola River is at historic lows near Spences Bridge.

“It’s the lowest I’ve seen in the 15 years I’ve been farming here,” said Steve Rice, who is also a farmer.

Rice said he can walk across the river, noting the flow barely covers the intake for his farm irrigation.

“It’s scary,” he said.

Ed Hendricks, owner of Ponderosa Sports in Merritt, said local anglers are well aware of the low water values, noting there are not many people fishing the streams.

“There’s a few people fishing, not many. Coldwater is record low, for sure. So is Spius Creek.”

Hendricks said there are 150 lakes in the valley from which to otherwise choose. He said the rivers are not popular because it’s not legal to catch salmon, bull trout or trout under 12 inches in length.

The ministry said further declines in water and aquifer levels could lead to shortages affecting agriculture, industry and people.

The angling closure began on Tuesday and extends to the end of September.

Lake fishing is unaffected.