Every spring, dozens of Yukoners release fish fry into our waters.
Kids and adults alike, jiggle, pour or place Bull Trout, Rainbows, Charr, Kokannee or Salmon into specific lakes and creeks.
Personally, I can’t think of a greater way to connect to fish, your food or the environment than to have a direct responsibility for putting them there.
I support the fish stocking program wholeheartedly. Stocking programs provide recreational fishing opportunities close to home, often without the requirement of a boat.
They also take the pressure off of slow growing species like Lake Trout that we have in the Yukon.
Don’t get me wrong, I wish we were in a position where we could fish wild, natural fish all of the time with sustainable populations. Unfortunately this is simply not the case.
A few weeks ago, as a member of the Yukon Fish and Game Association, I volunteered for the opportunity to stock Riverdale’s Hidden Lakes #3. This is the small pothole lake most easily paddled to from the large Hidden #1.
Like many of us, I often participate in public fry releases at Hidden Lakes or Wolf Creek, but I have never had the responsibility to stock them by myself.
At the best of times, I barely manage parenting my six- and eight-year-olds, to have the sole responsibility for another 2,000 little lives coming in on Air North in plastic jugs made me a little nervous.
Given that three-year-olds manage the task each year at Wolf Creek, I knew I was capable of the task at hand.
My first task involved recruiting my burley friend, Mike. From there, we portaged with the fish, a canoe and fishing gear to Hidden #1, paddled to Hidden #3, portaged again and then released the fry.
You will note I brought along fishing gear. While I would consider myself a conservationist, I am also an angler and will take every opportunity to responsibly fish.
After releasing the fry on one end of the lake, we paddled to the other end to see if we could catch their older brothers and sisters.
With Mike in the stern using spin gear, and me in the bow using flies, we cast close to the gnarly submerged trees. Within minutes, we had our first feisty Rainbow.
As is often the case in the spring when the ice goes out, there was considerable action. We caught and released a number of fish that evening and even kept a handful for the frying pan.
Our catch included not only Rainbow, but one Charr stocked in previous years.
In this one evening, we both experienced and participated in the circle of life for these Rainbow Trout.
One only has to drive by a campground in July, or experience the dozens of families at the Wolf Creek fry release, to know that the large majority of Yukoners are connected to our natural environment.
Take it to the next level this summer, get out to a stocked lake, catch a fish, eat it and close the circle of life.