Friday, April 15, 2011

Nicola Valley: A Traditional Hunting And Fishing Destination

(Originally published in the Merritt News)

© By Othmar Vohringer

It’s no secret that the Nicola Valley enjoys a reputation as one of the top fishing and hunting destinations in British Columbia. With our vast expanses of crown land, hundreds of fish-rich lakes and abundant wildlife populations this reputation is justly deserved. Has it always been like that? Well, it almost seems so. With the centennial celebrations coming up I’ve been doing some research into the history of Merritt and came across an article written about 60 years ago in a Californian newspaper. In the article Merritt was said to be one of the richest game areas in British Columbia with “excellent hunting and fishing opportunities”.

The article also made mention of “abundant pheasant hunting opportunities in the Nicola Valley.” Since that time, pheasant numbers have drastically declined in our valley and as someone who grew up hunting pheasants, among many other animal species, I regret that the opportunity to hunt them in Merritt has virtually disappeared.

As popular as our valley is with anglers and hunters you can find very little information about this anywhere in our city’s regular tourist information literature. Mayor Susan Roline recently asked residents to provide ideas on how to attract more tourists to Merritt. Here is my suggestion: Include our hunting and fishing opportunities into Merritt’s tourist guides and related media. Provide more tourist information on the topic, not just “Fish a lake a day for as long as you stay.”

Last year the Merritt News published the “Merritt Fishing & Hunting Guide” and I am proud that I was asked to write the hunting section for it. As I understand the “Merritt Fishing & Hunting Guide” was a huge hit. Copies went off the shelves like fresh baked bread. Now imagine what positive tourist impact that would have for our city if such a guide were to be included in regular tourist information available all across British Columbia, Canada, and our good neighbours to the south of the border. Hunting and fishing are as much a part of history in our valley as cattle ranching and logging. In fact, it is in large part the former that created the ideal habitat for a diverse wildlife population to thrive in numbers that are not so common in other regions.

The Nicola Valley is an ideal habitat for many game species such as mountain sheep, bear, moose, elk, mule and whitetail deer, grouse, partridge making Merritt and it’s surrounding areas an excellent destination for hunters. Likewise the hundreds of lakes in our valley which are highly productive, having big trout in large numbers for the anglers looking for plenty of fish to catch or for that once-in-a-lifetime trophy trout.

Simply put, the Nicola Valley has the right ingredients to make it a hunter and anglers paradise and should be promoted and marketed as such.


This blog post has been brought to you by Othmar Vohringer Outdoors

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