March 25, 2021

Catching Trout Could Pay Off with Tag Rewards

It’s hard to beat a day fishing on one of B.C.’s many large lakes. The settings can be breathtaking: crystal-clear water, majestic mountains, not to mention excellent wildlife-viewing. Sometimes fishing just seems like an excuse to get out on the water to take it all in. However, perspectives change dramatically when you hook into one of these lakes’ fine specimens – which could pay off handsomely if it’s tagged with a high-reward tag.

The Provincial Fisheries Program wants to ensure that select trout populations are protected and managed to optimize quality angling as well as meet conservation needs. Without adequate information about how big the populations are, or what habitats they use, fishing regulations may be too restrictive, resulting in lost harvest; or too generous, leading to over-harvest of a vulnerable population.

Try your luck and help science

Right now, high-reward tagging programs are underway across the province to help generate much-needed biological information on selected trout populations. With funding assistance from the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, provincial fisheries biologists are capturing wild trout in priority lakes and tagging them with removable, high-reward tags. It is hoped that anglers who catch a tagged fish will take the time – with a nice cash reward as incentive – to report their catch. In this way, biologists can gain reliable information on how many fish are caught, along with fish behaviour and movement. The more fish reported, the better our understanding.

Where can you catch a tagged fish in 2021?

• Vancouver Island Region – coastal cutthroat trout in Horne, Cowichan and Comox lakes and the Oyster River
• Cariboo Region – rainbow, lake, and bull trout in Quesnel Lake; bull trout in Chilko Lake; and lake trout in Horse Lake
• Skeena Region – bull trout in Meziadin Lake
• Omineca Region - burbot in Fraser Lake, Cluculz Lake (in 2022), and Carp Lake (in 2022). 
• Kootenay region - Kootenay lake rainbow trout and bull trout 

This is what the tags look like (note they can be different colours):


Comox Lake cutthroat trout with reward tag in dorsal fin (photo: Brendan Anderson)


Tagged rainbow trout released back into Quesnel lake (photo: Adrian Clarke)

What to do when you see a tag on your catch

Depending on the lake-specific regulations and your own harvest preferences, you may choose to keep the fish or release it. Either way, these tags are easily cut off without harm to the fish, and can be returned to your local provincial fish and wildlife office to claim the reward identified on the tag. Be sure to record the species of fish, when and where you caught it, and whether you kept or released it.

For further information on the tagging programs please contact:

  • Vancouver Island (Region 1) – Scott Silvestri or Brendan Anderson, Fish and Wildlife Regional Office, Nanaimo, 250-751-7220
  • Thompson-Nicola (Region 3) - Fish and Wildlife Office, Kamloops, 250-371-6200
  • Kootenay (Region 4) - Fish and Wildlife Office, Nelson, 250-354-6333
  • Cariboo (Region 5) – Russell Bobrowski or Lee Williston, Fish and Wildlife Regional Office, Williams Lake, 250-398-4530
  • Skeena (Region 6) – Joe De Gisi, Fish and Wildlife Regional Office, Smithers, 250-847-7260
  • Omineca (Region 7A) - Nikolaus Gantner or Ian Spendlow, Fish and Wildlife Regional Office, Prince George, 250-614-7400

This series has been established as a way to inform freshwater anglers in B.C. about projects that their angling licence dollars support. In 2015, the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC began receiving 100% (up from 70%) of all freshwater angling licence fees. With this additional funding, the Society committed to broadening the scope of its activities to include joint initiatives with the Provincial Government to support projects that benefit freshwater recreational fishing around B.C.

Author: Sue Pollard, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC
Photo Credits: Brendan Anderson, Adrian Clarke, Tina Dykstra