Freshwater fishing is an increasingly popular pastime, and fishing gear is an important part of the angling experience. To help make it easier for new anglers to try the sport, the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC set up the pilot project in Williams Lake, Terrace, Quesnel and Prince George. The initiative proved so popular it has been expanded to 16 locations across the province.
"With the popularity of freshwater fishing growing, along with increasing awareness of the world class calibre of freshwater fishing throughout British Columbia there was a real call to expand the program," says Jessica Borrows, Rod Loan Program Coordinator. "The pilot program had good usage and we hope this will improve with increased awareness that the rods are available."
Designed for locals new to fishing, groups such as Scouts and youth groups and visitors who don't own or didn't pack their gear, the Go Fish BC! Rod Loan Program helps make BC's freshwater fishing more accessible in several ways. When people borrow a fishing rod they are also able to benefit from local fishing expertise. In addition to lending rods, Williams Lake Visitor Centre staff are available to share their knowledge about gear, where the best fishing spots are, stocking information and fishing tips and tricks.
People are also able to buy their fishing licence when they borrow their gear.
"This is a great help when introducing someone to fishing, whether it's a friend from out of town or your Fishing Buddy who is trying fishing for the first time," said FFSBC President Don Peterson. "There is a keen interested in freshwater fishing but the gear can be intimidating if you haven't used it before. This program supports getting people out fishing and helping them discover the things that make freshwater fishing great."
To borrow a rod and tackle, visit the Williams Lake Visitor Centre at 1660 South Broadway or call 250-392-5025. Borrowers may present a credit card or leave a small deposit as insurance and rods may be borrowed for up to a week at a time. Rods and tackle are loaned for free and the deposit is returned when the fishing gear is dropped off. It is recommended interested borrowers call ahead to ensure rod availability. People are also able to buy their fishing licence when they borrow their gear.
Information about Rod Loan locations throughout the province is available on the www.gofishbc.com website in the How to Fish section. Additionally, roaming Rod Loan crews will be setting up loan centres at a selection of lakes in Metro Vancouver, on Vancouver Island and in Prince George. Visitors to lakes on a day when a Rod Loan crew is set up will be able to borrow a rod for a few hours and give fishing a try. Roaming Rod Loan locations are posted daily at www.gofishbc.com. Updates are also posted on the Go Fish BC FaceBook page.
The Go Fish BC! Rod Loan program was introduced in 2011 and 12 locations have been added in 2012 at hatcheries in Clearwater, Abbotsford, Fort Steele, Summerland, Duncan and partner fishing tackle businesses in Chilliwack, Surrey, Kamloops and Kelowna as well as the Kamloops Visitor Centre and the Summerland Visitor Centre and Chamber of Commerce. The Rod Loan program is the result of a partnership between FFSBC; Tourism BC, Ministry of Jobs Tourism and Innovation and the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.
The FFSBC is a not-for-profit organization funded directly by anglers through freshwater fishing licence revenues. It provides stocking programs that support 50 per cent of all fishing in B.C. lakes, conservation fish culture services for sturgeon recovery efforts and programs to enhance access to fishing for all British Columbians. For more information visit the FFSBC's website at www.gofishbc.com.
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