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Shake off the Blues with ice fishing for MLA bragging rights, charity and research

Angler: Scott Stewart (Reelistic90)

Angler’s Atlas and six rural MLAs will launch a COVID-safe ice fishing event this winter called Shake off the Blues. The event starts February 13 and runs until March 7.

All anglers within these ridings are able to participate.

“We are excited to work with our MLAs on this event,” said Angler’s Atlas President Sean Simmons. “We’re all looking for new ways to stay active and engaged with our community during this pandemic.”

Anglers compete in this event using a mobile app called MyCatch.

“You just take a picture of the fish on a measuring device, and the app does the rest,” said Simmons.

There is a real-time leaderboard that shows where anglers rank, and as new fish come in the leaderboard changes.

Mike Morris, one of the sponsoring MLAs, says: “The MyCatch app is an excellent tool to enable a fun-filled competition for anglers while complying with the current rigid pandemic restrictions. As an outdoors person myself, I encourage everyone to experience the gift of BC’s biodiversity while enjoying this competition.”

A special twist to this event is that participating ridings also get to compete with each other to see who will be crowned the Ice Fishing Capital of Northern BC. And the winning riding will get to donate 50 per cent of the net proceeds to the charity of their choice.

“The entry fee is $20, and our goal is to sign up 500 anglers across northern B.C.,” said Simmons. “If we reach our target, we will be able to award over $8,000 in prizes to the winning anglers.”

The event starts February 13 (Family Day Weekend) and runs until March 7. To register for the event, visit .

This idea emerged shortly after the country went into lockdown in March. By May the company was running its first event – the Atlantic Anglers Challenge on the east coast. Angler’s Atlas partnered with Trevor Avery from Acadia University and Jeff Wilson of the Striper Cup, which had been cancelled due to COVID.

This partnership brought together two important priorities of MyCatch – fisheries science and fishing. During the event, over 5,000 fish were caught consisting of 38 different species. The data collected during the event is being analyzed by Dr. Avery’s lab and we will be presenting results of this research later in February as one of the “Tournament Talks,”where the science is shared with the anglers who helped generate the data.

After the success of the initial pilot Angler’s Atlas held several more events across Canada, ranging from province wide events like Walleye Wars in Saskatchewan to local events like the Kootenay Lake Classic. In total 14 events were held during 2020, and  four events are scheduled this winter.

A big change to the events in 2021 is that they are now able to run divisional tournaments, where groups, such as MLA ridings and towns, can compete with their neighbouring groups, adding a new level of competition and excitement to the mix. Shake off the Blues and the Ontario Ice Fishing Challenge are the first two of these divisional events.

MyCatch mobile app was launched nearly three years ago as a way for anglers to help fisheries researchers collect better data on our fisheries.

“The reason we originally launched MyCatch was to help fisheries researchers get better data,” said Simmons. “My background is in aquatic sciences and I know the challenges biologists face when trying to understand the state of our fisheries. Traditional scientific methods are too expensive to scale across all of our lakes, rivers and oceans. So most of our fisheries go unmonitored.

“We believe anglers can help us solve this problem as they are already out on the water and often have a solid working knowledge of the fisheries. So over the past three years, it’s been our core mission to work with anglers in finding new ways to generate high quality data for fisheries biologists. And we’re succeeding.”

Angler’s Atlas collaborates with fisheries researchers at numerous universities across Canada and the United States, and the results are showing great promise in a number of fields.

“We are about to submit our first research paper for publication that demonstrates we are able to generate data that is as good as traditional ‘Gold Standard’ methods used by fisheries biologists,” said Simmons.

“And just as exciting are the new areas of research that are emerging from this data, such as monitoring invasive species and generating new models for the spread of disease.

“One of the key challenges we are now focused on is to make sure we can effectively communicate this science back to the anglers. So we launched ‘Tournament Talks’ on January 6, 2021 as a way to ‘close the loop’, returning data and results back to the anglers. It featured Dr. Chris Somers from the University of Regina sharing results of his research that involved working with tournament anglers across Saskatchewan.

The second ‘Tournament Talk’ will be February 17, 2021 and will feature Dr. Trevor Avery’s lab from Acadia talking about their Striped Bass research and the results from our Atlantic Anglers Challenge.

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