Shannon Lake Elementary students excitedly shrieked as 900 rainbow trout were released into a netted off area of Shannon Lake Thursday morning.
The annual stocking of the lake is part of the Regional District of the Central Okanagan’s Go Fish program, which is in its eight year.
Each weekend from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. until Sunday, June 15, children 15 years old and younger will be able to fish for rainbow trout and will be able to keep one each day, without a fishing licence.
Sharon Foster, a Grade 2 teacher at Shannon Lake Elementary, said students look forward to watching the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. stock Shannon Lake each year.
“Part of our science exploration is on life cycles, and at the school we’re raising (Kokanee salmon) from when they were fertilized from an egg, and we’re going to release those fish into Mission Creek park,” said Foster.
“So it’s great for us to compare the rainbow trout to the Kokanee salmon.”
Foster added the Go Fish program helps encourage children to participate in outdoor activities such as fishing, rather than staying indoors and playing video games or watching TV.
Al Springer of the Peachland Sportsmen’s Association came up with the idea for Go Fish nearly a decade ago.
“We put it on to teach (the kids) how to fish, for one thing, but also to show them that their food doesn’t all come from Safeway,” said Springer.
“It’s a lifelong habit, once they get it.”
Dave Mahovlic, a fish culturist with the Summerland Trout Hatchery, said the rainbow trout released into Shannon Lake Thursday acclimatize quickly to their new surroundings.
“The fish do very well, there’s lots of food in here and (it’s) a good habitat for them,” said Mahovlic.
The truck, which transported the fish to Shannon Lake Thursday, was equipped with several oxygen tanks.
“The oxygen is fed into the water, because fish need oxygen to survive. So when we put quite a number of them in a tank full of water like this, they need a life support system, because they would (quickly) use up the oxygen within the water.
“So we can take them all over the province, wherever we need to go.”
On Saturdays, volunteers from the Kelowna and District Fish and Game Club and Lonely Loons Flyfishers Society will provide equipment and expert fishing guidance at Hall Road pond. Members of the Peachland Sportsmen’s Association will lend their fishing expertise to Go Fish participants in the netted area at the south end of Shannon Lake on Saturdays.
Each Sunday, regional parks services staff will provide equipment and will be available to help youngsters as they try their luck in the two fishing program locations.
The urban fishery program kicks off this Saturday at Hall Road pond in Mission Creek Regional Park and on Sunday at Shannon Lake.
Those participants of the Go Fish program who have their own fishing gear are encouraged to bring it, as there is a limited supply of rods and reels to borrow at each site.