Pikeminnow Derby cancelled at Cultus this year

The derby just took a huge amount of work, as these things do, so they are looking for a new host organization to run it next year

The popular Cultus Lake Pikeminnow Derby will not be held this year. But the group that hosted the event for the past two years is hoping anglers will have their lines back in the water by next year.

The popular Cultus Lake Pikeminnow Derby will not be held this year. But the group that hosted the event for the past two years is hoping anglers will have their lines back in the water by next year.

The popular Cultus Lake Pikeminnow Derby is on hold for now.

But the group that hosted the event for the past two years is hoping anglers will have their lines back in the water by next year.

The derby was held every Father’s Day weekend for the past 10 years, to coincide with the B.C. Family Fishing Weekend — the one weekend when B.C. anglers can fish fresh-water lakes and streams for free, without a freshwater fishing licence.

The Fraser Valley Salmon Society volunteers ran the derby for many years, until the Cultus Lake Aquatic Stewardship Strategy (CLASS) took over in 2013.

“Thanks to its tireless volunteers, the event was huge success,” said CLASS spokesperson Christina Toth.

It attracted more than 700 anglers last year.

“The derby is important in engaging the public, but after two years CLASS members found the organization efforts took a lot of time, energy and focus away from the group’s mandate.”

CLASS focuses on the environmental stewardship of the lake, monitoring what’s going on in the larger watershed as well as the lake, and coming up with helpful responses to the issues wherever possible.

The derby just took a huge amount of work, as these things do, with about 10 volunteers working throughout the year and another 20 on the day of the event.

“It’s trying to put things in balance,” said CLASS member Dave Clyne. “It really is a terrific family and community event. Wonderful to see kids out there with their parents.”

But the science seems to bear it out.

The spring derby does help in part to manage the pikeminnow population, along with winter long line fishing, which can helpful since the pikeminnow are known to feed on young Cultus lake sockeye and trout. The sockeye numbers have been steadily declining, and the pikeminnow has also been going down notably.

“The estimate is now down to around 35,000 pikeminnow in Cultus, from a peak of 70,000.”

The volunteer run group will continue the search for another community group to get on board, in time to plan next year’s derby.

CLASS members have contacts and other information to share with any groups thinking about taking over the event.

CLASS is meeting on May 27, at 7 p.m. at Cultus Lake Community School in the library, open to all residents. For more info Christina Toth at ctoth@fraserbasin.bc.ca, or see http://cultusstewards.shawbiz.ca/

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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