Garnet lake hasn’t iced off yet, but when it does, its close proximity to Summerland, abundant trout and easy shoreline access make it a popular fishing destination.
But that valuable family fishing opportunity is about to end on April 1, due to the illegal introduction of largemouth bass to the lake.
“Provincial policy is to close any fisheries with new detections of invasive species,” White explained.
“By prohibiting the use of illegal fisheries created by illegal introductions, we remove that incentive for people to transport fish between water bodies.”
Authorities were first notified about the invasive species in Garnet Lake in 2019.
Fisheries biologists immediately gill-netted the lake and confirmed the presence of largemouth bass.
“In Garnet specifically, the bass are expected to have a negative impact on the native trout species through things like predation and competition,” White said.
“When you add bass, it takes away from everybody,” said Nick Pace, co-owner of Kelowna’s Trout Waters Fly and Tackle.
Pace is an avid angler and conservationist who says he’s fed up with the illegal stocking of invasive species.
“Very frustrated, you know” he said. “Freshwater Fisheries (Society of BC) does a great job of stocking our lakes.”
Pace believes stocking should be left provincial biologists, and not so-called ‘bucket biologists’ who stock fish illegally.
“The bucket brigade, as we have been calling them for years. It’s selfish anglers who feel they have the right to do what they want,” said Pace.
Garnet Lake is just the latest example of a problem that’s on the rise.
“Definitely in the Okanagan. But not just in the Okanagan, but across the province, we are seeing a large increase in it,” White said.
The costs to remediate a lake after an illegal stocking can be extremely high, both in terms of dollars and damage to the environment.
As such B.C.’s Conservation Office takes the offence extremely seriously.
“People convicted of a first offence can be fined up to $100,000 and or a year in prison,” said White.
Unfortunately, finding the responsible party can prove extremely tough.
So, for now, thanks to whoever illegally stocked bass in the lake, Garnet is now closed to angling for everyone starting in April.