Braydon Puffalt and his five-year-old daughter, Lola, take part in the Lions Pikeminnow Fishing Derby at Cultus Lake on June 15, 2019. Although this year’s event has been cancelled, organizers are encouraging people to still fish for the invasive species from June 19 to 21 when no fishing licence is required due to it being B.C.’s Family Fishing Weekend. (Jenna Hauck/Progress file)

Pikeminnow still need to be caught despite cancellation of Cultus Lake fishing derby

Organizers of annual pikeminnow derby asking folks to continue to help get rid of the predatory fish

This year’s Lions Club Pikeminnow Fishing Derby may be cancelled, but the organizers are still asking for the public’s help in removing the predatory fish from Cultus Lake.

In turn, folks will be giving an endangered species of salmon a chance to survive.

The event, which is held on Father’s Day weekend every year, typically attracts 400 to 500 people but this year it has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are encouraging people to get out there and kill the [pikeminnow],” said Robert Prinse, chairperson of the fishing derby.

Northern pikeminnow are a resident species, but they are the main predator of the juvenile Cultus Lake sockeye – a unique population of salmon that spawn exclusively in the lake.

Each year, hundreds of pikeminnow are caught and killed at the fishing derby. With this year’s event cancelled, those fish will continue to feed on the young Cultus Lake sockeye.

A bin of Northern pikeminnow on May 28, 2009. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)

Since B.C.’s Family Fishing Weekend means folks can fish licence-free for three days, the organizers of the Lions Club Pikeminnow Fishing Derby are asking people to get out there and reel in some pikeminnow at Cultus Lake from June 19 to 21.

“If people do go fishing for pikeminnow or smallmouth bass [an invasive species], we are suggesting to remove them and recycle them correctly,” Prinse said.

That means don’t toss the dead fish back into the water.

Al Stobbart, director with Fraser Valley Regional District Area G, suggests placing the pikeminnow in your green bin.

The fish caught during the derby are killed and then transported to a large property where they are made available to wildlife to feed upon, Stobbart added.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has a recovery program in place for the Cultus Lake salmon which includes removal of the pikeminnow and removal of an invasive plant known as Eurasian water milfoil.

READ MORE: Workshop takes on invasive aquatics in Chilliwack

For the past four years, the fishing derby has been organized by six Lions Clubs: Chilliwack, Mt. Cheam, Dogwood Monarch, Steller’s Jay, Sasquatch and Hope.

As a result of the event cancellation, this year the clubs are helping out their communities by donating a total of $10,000 to local food banks, including the Chilliwack Salvation Army, St. Joseph’s Food Bank in Mission and the Our Lady of Fatima Church food bank in Sts’ailes.

And although there won’t be any physical prizes for catching pikeminnow this year, knowing you’re helping the Cultus Lake sockeye survive will be your “thanks” for 2020.

READ MORE: Pikeminnow derby kicks off at dawn Saturday (June 12, 2019)


 

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Email: jenna.hauck@theprogress.com
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