While many sports are taking a hiatus over the summer or making a limited restart, the sport of fishing in British Columbia is experiencing a surge in participation. Overwhelmingly, young adults are taking up the sport this summer and heading out to enjoy both urban and rural fishing experiences.

Resident angler sales are 16% higher than last year, which was a strong year spring for licence sales. Total fishing licence sales are 3% above 2019 sales, more than offsetting licence purchases by non-resident Canadian, American and international anglers in April and May.

“As a sport that naturally allows for social distancing while still offering individuals and families an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, fishing is the perfect summer activity. We are excited to see more BC residents enjoying the world class fishing in their own backyard,” says Andrew Wilson, President, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC. “We hope people will take their fishing enjoyment on their travels and explore rivers and lakes throughout the province. They will discover why BC is a world class fishing destination!”

Youth age 16 – 24 have most enthusiastically taken up the sport with a 55% increase in licence purchases compared to 2019 while there has been a 15% increase in purchases by those in the 25 – 34 year old age group. Licence sales have increased 10% in the 35 – 44 year old age group. Youth under 16 years old are not required to purchase a licence.

Licence sales year to date have decreased 17% for anglers 65 and older.

As a result of implementing enhanced protocols, hatchery staff were able to safely continue working through the spring. This allowed the Freshwater Fisheries Society to maintain operations and meet stocking targets throughout the province, even when access was closed for safety reasons.

“We were able to continue our fish stocking through the spring, releasing as many yearling and catchable size fish as in previous years,” says Tim Yesaki, Vice President of Operations. “We worked with fantastic staff at regional and provincial parks to ensure stocking continued, even behind locked gates. As those parks re-opened, anglers were rewarded with fantastic fishing. We are pleased that we were able to meet the stocking plans to ensure new anglers, as well as our frequent anglers, have a great fishing experience this summer.”

July and August are the most popular months for non-resident Canadians to make fishing trips to BC and July-September are the months most international anglers usually visit BC. Fishing guides and lodges, most of which are located in rural BC, are hoping the jump in resident licence sales will lead to more BC anglers booking fishing trips and holidays this year.

The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC was created in 2003 as a private, not-for-profit organization, funded mainly through freshwater fishing licence revenues. In partnership with the Province, the Society annually stocks six million trout, char and kokanee salmon in 800 B.C. lakes. It also manages special hatchery programs for endangered species including white sturgeon, conducts fisheries research, education and conservation programs, and works to make angling more accessible for all. To find out more, visit gofishbc.com.

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