Summer’s here, so get outside

Celebrate the official arrival of summer by going fishing or hiking or sailing, but get outside in the Okanagan and enjoy yourself.

On a summer-like day last week

Despite the torrents of rain pounding down on us this week, today is officially the first day of summer.

It reminds me why I left Vancouver and returned home to the arid Okanagan a few decades ago—I just don’t have the webbed feet that are required. I’m more the pine and sagebrush type; even the cactus type.

So, as soon as the sun returns, I have a long list of trails I plan to hike this summer, along with another list of lakes and streams I’d like to fish. Don’t we all?

Just the word summer has a magical ring to it. It evokes the feeling of being free and a kid in the Okanagan in summer, when we would head off in the morning, return for lunch and be off again playing outdoors all afternoon as well.

As young teens we would catch a ride to one of the beaches and bask in the sun, alternating with hours spent swimming and diving and playing in the water with friends.

Hiking in the hills around the Okanagan and going fishing with Dad are more wonderful memories of summer. The scents of sage and pine are evocative of sunny summer days in my mind.

If you’re heading out fishing this summer, as so many people did last weekend to celebrate the 15th Free Family Fishing weekend, you could actually make yourself a bit of money if you’re paying attention.

The Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. has launched a new research project that requires your assistance, and in return, they’ll reward you.

About 300 catchable-sized, hatchery-raised rainbow trout with numbered neon-pink tags with a toll-free number on them have been released into 40 fishing lakes around B.C.

Anglers who catch one of the tagged fish are asked to remove the tag and call the toll-free number.

If you have a current B.C. fishing licence and are one of the first 150 callers, you will receive a $100 reward. Once those prizes are all gone, gift certificates for fishing supplies will be sent out instead.

Data gathered will help the society to improve the province’s small lakes fishery by providing stock assessment information to help in management of the stocking program.

With B.C.’s mix of about 800 hatchery-stocked lakes and more than 3,000 wild stock lakes, fishing quality can be easily manipulated without any conservation concerns.

The tagging project is part of a multi-year, large scale research study that involves many partners in a study of B.C.’s rainbow trout fishery.

Already, 15 people have claimed their prize, so you’d better get busy and go fishing.

Trails planning

As far as the trails are concerned, there might be some new ones on the horizon if the District of West Kelowna has its way.

Parks planning analyst Mark Roberts is stick-handling a recreational trails master plan through the process, with the idea that it’ll be before council late this summer.

A draft of it is available on their website for you to have a look at: www.districtofwestkelowna.ca and click on plans and strategies under Development Services to get to the Recreational Trails Plan.

Although funds are pretty tight, there is an attempt to expand the connections throughout the municipality, between neighbourhoods, between wild areas and parks, and between trail sections so there are longer walks or hikes available within the municipality.

Luckily, there are a couple of great regional parks with representative wild areas in them, including Kalamoir Regional Park which has a beautiful loop trail with panoramic views out over the lake and along the lakeshore; and Rose Valley Regional Park with an an easy wetland walk or steep climbs and fantastic views.

Both feature lots of wildflowers throughout the seasons as well as a wide variety of birds and wildlife.

Wouldn’t it be grand if we could gather together enough funds to purchase some of the property in the Goat’s Peak area to protect that rocky waterfront and hilltop in its natural state?

It’s during times like this, when property prices are depressed, that we should be ensuring we protect some of the critical natural areas remaining around the Okanagan.

Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.

 

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com

 

 

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