I managed to get out and check some anglers recently, and for the most part everyone was behaving, but the fish were not biting.
Liquor is an ever present problem in shacks and littering is starting to become more apparent in my travels. Please leave your liquor at home as it is unlawful to consume in an ice shack regardless if you have a bed, stove, TV, radio, cot, coffee maker or any other item that makes it feel like home. The bottom line is that it is not your dwelling.
As for litter, please do your best to pick up behind you as it all ends up in the lake and affects water quality and the quality of the fish that live in it.
I had a chance to talk with many of you in regards to the new licensing system. I even got out once and took Sawyer and Ella fishing. Ella caught her first fish and Sawyer caught one shortly after that. Once the fish bite was done the "squirrel!!!" attention span kicked in with snacks and the underwater camera taking all their attention.
There is going to be a big change in Saskatchewan when it comes to getting your angling or hunting licenses. Saskatchewan is rolling out a new program in the form of an automated license system. In the past Saskatchewan had a large number of vendors who would sell licenses to sportsmen. Over the last several years, the ministry has consulted with many hunters, anglers, trappers and issuers and has heard that the current system is outdated and needs to be modernized. It is costly to administer for both the license issuers and the ministry, and it doesn't meet our management needs. It is set to roll out on April 1 and is designed to improve service to our citizens and tourists, provide accurate and timely data for improved management of our natural resources, and improve the efficiency of compliance and enforcement. The system will make it easier for anglers and hunters to purchase their licenses.
There are four options to purchase licenses through this new service:
1) online, self-serve, where you purchase your licenses at home on your home computer
2) through private license issuers
3) Ministry of Environment & Provincial Park offices
4) by phone, through a call centre (1-855-848-4773)
I have heard from some of you already about this new process and you are not in favor of having to change it. With change, it will take time to adapt and understand the process. The same thing happened when the big game draw was changed so that it had to be done online. Today, hunters apply and it is no big deal once they understand the process. The benefits of this new system is that sportsmen can purchase their licenses at any time without ever worrying that the vendor may be closed or out of that particular license.
Out-of-province visitors will be able to purchase their licenses prior to arriving in Saskatchewan. The largest benefit is the fact that the ministry will have real time data that can assist on resource management decisions. If you are checked in the field without a valid license, an officer can easily check to confirm if a license has been purchased. Saying that, you are still required to carry your license with you just like in the past and the legislation has not changed. It is an offence NOT to carry your license and will be in the future.
There is no increase to the cost of a license, but you will require a credit card to complete online and phone orders. So how does it work? Well, you will need to create an account the first time you apply for a license. This includes name, address, create a username and password if online at home, etc. Once you are registered, based on your residency, you will be offered licenses for which you are eligible. You select the licenses you want to buy and pay for them. Licenses will be printed on 8.5 X 11 plain paper and you can make as many copies as you like, enough to have one in each tackle box, boat or pair of pants.
So what about tags and seals for your big game animals? Well the logistics are still being worked out, but it is believed that the hunter will be able to pick up a sheet of seals/tags from the vendor or a ministry office. I have no idea what the cost is, or even if there is a cost. But for explanation sake, let's say that you will be able to purchase a page of five seals for five dollars. Each seal will have a number associated and printed on it. When you go on line to purchase your big game license, you will have to apply the tag number that you have to the individual license that you have purchased. If the tags and the license are not recorded and related, they are void. The discussion is that we will be providing a three part tag, much like we did in the past that will be affixed to the animal with string or a zip tie. The old sticky tags do not have a long enough shelf life and probably will not be used.
So once again this is no different than in the past. You will still get the habitat, species license and tags and all will have the same corresponding numbers much like what we had in the past. Stay tuned as there will be many more developments with this and I will forward more as soon as I know more. I honestly think this is a good thing, but I am sure that there will be a few hiccups along the way, but it will work out in the end. Until next week…keep your rod tip up!