Proposed regulation change to re-open fishing in Columbia River at Revelstoke

Ministry says new study shows concerns over overfishing in the three-kilometre in-town section of the river to be 'anecdotal.'

Revelstoke Mountaineer file photo: Rebecka Miller about to release a cutthroat trout near Revelstoke. Photo by Matthew Timmins

The provincial ministry responsible for fishing regulations is proposing a change to fishing rules that would restore fishing on the Columbia River in the Revelstoke area. The change would allow fishing in the river, including fishing from the shore, from the Illecillewaet River to the Trans-Canada Highway bridge. The change would reverse a 2015 decision that closed off that portion of the river to fishing.

In a statement on a B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development webpage that outlines proposed changes, the ministry presented its rationale for the change.

It said that a recent creel survey in the Arrow Lakes found that the impact of fishing on that portion of the river is “biologically insignificant” and that “the anecdotal concerns of excessive effort and harvest, which led to the original closure, are unlikely.”

Revelstoke Mountaineer file photo: Linden Ernst fly fishing on the Akolkolex River in Revelstoke. Photo by Matthew Timmins

It added that there is “no empirical evidence of concern for a minor incremental harvest in the short three-kilometre reach,” for bull trout due to the “none under 60 cm” rule.

In their statement rationale, the ministry said that the portion of the river was closed due to concerns from the Revelstoke Rod & Gun Club of over-harvesting of bull trout in the portion of the river.

However, the ministry has since received a petition from over 200 people who wanted fishing restored to the area. This included expressions of concern from those wanting to access fishing from Revelstoke, including those who want to walk or bike to fish, and those using, “wheelchairs, especially for but not limited to youth and disabled anglers.”

The decision on the regulation changes is currently “pending.” Ministry regulations and policy analyst Stephen MacIver said the regulation change is at the “proposed change” stage and that the ministry is currently accepting public input on the proposed change up until January 11, 2019.

After that date, the proposed changes head to the Director of the Fish and Aquatic Habitat Branch, Jennifer Davis, who will make a decision on the regulation change. The new regulations will then be printed in the province’s annual fishing and hunting regulations guideboook, which is published in April.

If you want to provide feedback, see this link to the ministry webpage. You’ll need to log in with a BCeID in order to comment.

Fishing in B.C. is subject to many regulations. For example, fishing in the Revelstoke portion of the river is limited to barbless hooks, among other restrictions. Be clear on local regulations before you put a line in.

Update: A previous version of this story erroneously stated the upper limit boundary as the Revelstoke Dam. In fact, the upper boundary would be the Trans-Canada Highway bridge on the Columbia River.