Wetter weather good for campfires and fishing

It has been the tale of two seasons. We had such a dry start to spring in the province that RMs and even urban governments implemented fire bans in their representative areas.

Since then, we had some good downpours, and maybe even too much rain in some areas. But it really greened things up and lessened the fire hazard enough so that people could enjoy a campfire and agricultural producers could continue with their operations. I have been asked from time to time what the implications or consequences are if one is burning during an ordered ban.

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In towns and cities, you would answer to the local governing bylaws and any penalties they have in place. Unauthorized burning on Crown land during a fire ban also has consequences. Charges could be laid under the Saskatchewan Wildfire Act, which would have the accused appear in front of a judge to answer for the violation.

Penalties can go as high as $500,000 and depend on the violation. Another huge consequence is the potential order by the court to pay for costs associated with fire suppression, damage to timber stands and costs associated with damage to property and equipment on Crown land.

May and June were busy wildfire months in Saskatchewan and dry weather played a role in this. You know what else this weather is good for? Fishing.

It has been awhile since I have written a column on fishing rules. I have taken my kids out to wet the line several times now and we still have a blast fishing from shore.

I’m still collecting cans and any coins I find in the couch so that one day I can get a fishing boat. Seems yard and house repairs, kids’ sports and this little black card called a MasterCard, tends to trump the purchase of a good boat.

For the 2018 angling season, there really are no significant rule changes or limit changes. The only notable change is the new law that requires all boat owners to ensure the plug is pulled from their boat while the boat is being transported. This is a pro-active measure to lessen the chance of aquatic invasive species being spread.

While doing field checks, I have had a couple of good questions from anglers, which I will repeat here.

Q: Can I carry my angling licence on my phone?

The answer to this question is yes, but don’t rely on having cell service. To carry your licence on your phone, download it to the memory. That way, you can show it to a conservation officer even when there isn’t cell coverage.

If you cannot show me your licence, I will assume you don’t have one.

If you ask me to simply look your name up on our computer (which we do not have by the way) then there is a good chance you could encounter a ticket for failing to carry your licence.

You can also print off copies of it to carry in every tackle box, glove box, jacket and pair of pants you own. Just make sure you carry your licence.

Q: After fishing, can we have a limit of fish for my six-month old son?

No, the person keeping the limit must be able to manipulate the fishing rod and reel the fish in on their own. Someone else cannot catch your limit or anyone else’s limit.

Q: Is it really necessary to leave a patch of skin on the fish?

Yes. I have seen a growing trend of people not doing this. They all say the same thing, it’s a pain and conservation officers can easily tell the difference between a pike and walleye.

This may be true, but can you tell the difference between a walleye and perch? Can you tell the difference between a lake trout, trout and pike? Leave the skin on when transporting it. It is not that big of an inconvenience.

Q: After I am done fishing, can I take the fish home in the live well of our boat.

The simple answer to this is no. One is not allowed to transport live fish in Saskatchewan. If you drained all the water out of the live well, that would be acceptable.

Q: Is high grading allowed?

High grading is the act of keeping your limit of fish and exchanging newly caught larger fish with the smaller ones on your stringer. It is an offence in Saskatchewan to fail to return fish to its waters immediately in a manner that will cause the least harm to the fish.

I would suggest that keeping a sport fish in a pail or on a stringer would contravene that section of the regulations.

Q: How do I get into spear fishing?

The only way that one can use a spear to fish is if you are swimming or completely submerged under the water. Many people participate in this activity and I am told things appear much larger on the lake bottom compared to the surface and it can cause quite the scare to some.

There are some rules around “scuba fishing” that must be followed. The first is that you require an angling licence. The spear gun you use has to have the bolt attached to the gun by a string that does not exceed five metres. Pneumatic guns are permitted, but guns using compressed air or any other gas propellant are not permitted.

Any fish taken with a spear gun cannot be released and limits are consistent with limits for angling.

If you are fishing underwater, you must also have a scuba diver’s flag present in the water where you are fishing to warn boaters and other anglers of your presence and activity. You are also not permitted to spear fish within 100 metres of a buoyed swimming area.

Until next time, watch your routes while in the boat. There are lots of new rocks out there.

— Ministry of Environment conservation officer Lindsey Leko has spent more than 26 years as a conservation officer in Saskatchewan. Direct questions to lindsey.leko@gov.sk.ca.


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