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Pinto Lake

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A question was asked at the March 25th meeting with Dave Park, Section Head, Fisheries Policy Division, ESRD, about the status of the Pinto Lake fishery. Dave checked into it and provided the following:


Regarding Pinto Lake…I got the full story, and it’s a good one…


Pinto historically bore a monoculture of bull trout that were unique, in that they were specialised bug eaters, even to the degree that they had some physical adaptions to facilitate that life history (more numerous gill rakers). This lake also had a traditional First Nations fishery. Stoney Indians would make a trip annually to trap and harvest bulls. To protect these unique fish, in consultation with the Stoneys, the lake became closed to all fishing in 1990. Then, in 1993, we discovered pure Westslope cutthroat trout in the lake, despite there being what was believed to be a barrier falls on Pinto Ck, flowing out of the lake. How they got there remains a mystery. Subsequent surveys have shown that the cutts are now dominant, in terms of numbers and size. Consequently, bull trout are not doing so well. Fast forward to present day…plans are being explored for reverting Pinto Lake back to a bull trout dominated system. Re-opening a recreational fishery and providing a harvest opportunity for cutthroat trout is complicated by a couple of things. First, in order to open it to angling, it must also be opened to all fishing. This means that First Nations would have the legal right to fish for food. An agreement may be struck with the Stoneys, such that they don’t trap or angle bull trout, but no such agreement yet exists. The other complication is that the cutts are pure Westslopes. Not only do they have recreational value, they also have ecological value. This needs to be considered when developing plans. Given the situation, our area staff believe that sport fishing will not be allowed at Pinto in the foreseeable future. An alternative that is being considered is trapping cutts in the outlet stream during spawning (this is likely to be very effective) and relocating them to a nearby lake (such as Landslide or Lake of the Falls) to provide fishing opportunities. As I indicated, options are being actively explored. I wouldn’t be surprised, depending on funding availability, to hear at some point that cutts will trapped and moved from Pinto to another nearby lake. I trust this is the information being sought by your club.

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