Changes to Thompson River steelhead management

Thompson River steelhead fishery opening extended until Oct. 31, subject to conservation requirements

KAMLOOPS – The Thompson River steelhead fishery opening has been extended until Oct. 31, subject to conservation requirements.

Previously, the lower Thompson River angling season was open from June 1 to Sept. 30, with potential openings for steelhead anglers in November and December if returns warranted.

The new management practice keeps the fishery open until Oct. 31, with the potential of either extending the season to Dec. 31, or initiating an early closure, depending on steelhead stock status.

The changes provide increased opportunity to anglers while ensuring that steelhead conservation remains the priority throughout the lower Thompson River system (downstream of Kamloops Lake).

Two other changes were made in the catch-and-release steelhead fishery on the lower Thompson. These are:

* Implementing a hook size restriction of no more than 15 mm from point to shank from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31.

* Implementing a Sept. 20 to Dec. 31, bait ban on the Thompson River from Martel down to the confluence of the Thompson and Fraser River at Lytton, and that portion of the Fraser River from the confluence with the Thompson River downstream approximately 1 km to the CNR Bridge.

This bait ban is in addition to the existing year-round bait ban on the lower Thompson River upstream of Martel.

Large hooks and the use of bait can result in higher rates of mortality for caught and released fish. While catch-and-release fishing of steelhead results in minimal mortality and does not represent a conservation concern, eliminating the use of bait and large hooks is expected to further mitigate the impact of the catch-and-release season.

These changes were made following significant consultation with First Nations and angling stakeholders.

The Thompson River steelhead fishery is one of B.C.’s most renowned sport fisheries and attracts anglers from throughout the province, the rest of Canada and other countries. The Thompson River steelhead underwent dramatic stock declines in the 1980s, leading to the elimination of any harvest quota in 1989. Like sport fisheries for all other wild steelhead stocks in B.C., the fishery for Thompson stocks is strictly catch-and-release only, and will remain so under the changes announced today.