Manitoba Youth Angling Card

Since 2009, Fish Futures Inc. has facilitated a fish-themed artwork contest for children and the winning entry is featured on the cover of the Manitoba Youth Angling Card.  Each year highlights a different fish species and entries must include a short paragraph about the fish and its habitat.  Over 40,000 Youth Angling Cards are distributed for free to children in Manitoba each year.  

$$$ and Prizes

Thank you to the Fish Futures Banquet Committee for their generous prize donations. There is a rumour that an iPod Touch is in the works for this year's contest . . .

1st Place Winner - Early Years Division - Kayla Amara Maendel

1st Place Winner - Early Years Division - Kayla Amara Maendel

2nd Place Winner - Early Years Division - Judah Kleinsasser

2nd Place Winner - Early Years Division - Judah Kleinsasser

3rd Place Winner - Early Years Division - Luis Heide

3rd Place Winner - Early Years Division - Luis Heide

3rd Place - Middle Years Division - Sara Bernardin

3rd Place - Middle Years Division - Sara Bernardin

Most entries in the 2016 contest have been returned by mail.  Other entries are available for pick-up at 200 Saulteaux Crescent until February 29th.  Spring is coming and fishing season is right around the corner . . . 

2016 Contest Winners - Middle Years Division

1st Place - Erin Waterer of Balmoral, MB

2nd Place - Tori Rarog of East St. Paul, MB

3rd Place - Sara Bernardin of Winnipeg, MB

Lucky Draw - Masen Corbett of Birch River, MB

With close to 300 entries, this year's contest had a record number of participants.  Thank you to teachers, parents and students for joining the fun in learning about fish and fishing.  Special thanks to this year's judges: Jerry Kruzcek and John Armitage (Fish Futures Banquet Co-Chairs), Rob Olson (Manitoba Wildlife Federation), Paul Turenne (Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association), and Dr. Cameron Barth (North/South Consultants).  Thank you to Katherine Ward of Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship and the Hunters and Anglers Preservation Fund for their support.  Next year's feature fish will be announced in the coming weeks . . . 

2015 Contest Closed - Winners Announced February 1st

Lake sturgeon artwork and application forms were due December 31st, and judging night is fast approaching. Thank you to all the students, teachers, and schools who participated. The winners will be announced on this blog no later than February 1st, 2016. We might have a record number of entries this year. And special thanks to the students and staff at Jack River School in Norway House, who advised me that "namew" is the Cree word for sturgeon. Best of luck to all participants!

In 2015, the YAC program was able to visit ten schools throughout Manitoba and present on fish, fishing and stewardship. We appreciate the support of the Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association and the Hunter and Angler Preservation Fund for allowing us to expand the program and bring our message to hundreds more students.

Artwork Tips for the Lake Sturgeon

On October 7th, Mr. Chomichuk hosted a presentation to his Grade 9 art class at St. James Collegiate. It was a large and lively group with a competitive spirit. Often we get side-tracked with fishing stories or conservation issues, but this group was all business. They wanted to know “what makes a successful entry?”

• Know your subject – reference photos are attached to the application form, but search for additional images to get a perspective of the fish from all angles. A common mistake is getting the fins wrong in size, number, or position.

• Get the proportions right – each fish carries it’s weight a bit different from head to tail. A common mistake is drawing the head, eyes, and belly too large.

• Fish habitat – fish are camouflaged in their habitat and often share the same green and brown tones as the weeds, rocks, bottom. A common mistake is overdrawing the fish habitat and hiding the fish in the scene.

• Title your artwork – and remember that a creative title helps get the judges attention and may be that little extra that pushes your entry through to the next round.

• Remember that your artwork will be reduced to the size of a business card. There should also be some open space where the YAC logo and year of issue can be placed.

Thank you to Mr. Chomichuk for promising more class time to work on their contest applications. We hope to meet again in a few weeks to take a group picture with their entries.

Lake Sturgeon – Spawning Behaviour

• Males mature at 18 to 20 years old and females mature at 20 to 24 years old. Compare to walleye that mature at 3 to 5 years and rarely live 20+ years.

• When mature, female lake sturgeon may spawn only once every four to six years. This means only a small portion of the population spawns each year, making them vulnerable to disturbance from overfishing or habitat loss.

• Lake sturgeon will return to where they were born to spawn.

• Spawning occurs in spring when the water temperature is between 13 to 15 degrees Celcius.

• Spawning habitat is 2 to 15 feet of fast-moving water – below waterfalls, rapids or dams – with sand, gravel, and boulders on bottom.

• The female approaches, males drum against her, releases eggs that mixes with their milt to fertilize the eggs, and they sink and stick to bottom.

• The number of eggs varies from 50,000 to 1 million - egg size, health and viability increase significantly with age.

• The lake sturgeon Hatch in about 7 to 10 days, and grow to about 20 cm (8 inches) by the end of the first summer.

Lake Sturgeon – Physical Features

• Adult lake sturgeon can vary in colour from olive-brown to slate grey with a milky white belly.

• Lake sturgeon have a cartilaginous skeleton and shark-like caudal fin that is asymmetrical

• Lake sturgeon have an elongated and pointed snout that they use like a spade to stir up the substrate and sediments on the beds of rivers and lakes while feeding.

• The lake sturgeon has four purely sensory organs that dangle near its mouth. These organs, called barbels, help the sturgeon to locate bottom-dwelling prey.

• The five rows of bony bumps or 'scutes' you see on young fish will smooth out as they get older. Scutes have little hooked spurs that make the young sturgeon hard-to-swallow, protecting them from predators like walleye and pike.

• Young sturgeon are often marked with black blotches on their sides, back, and snout to help them camouflage with the lake or river bottom. These blotches will lighten or disappear when they are about 60 cm long – too large for most natural predators.

• Special thanks to Cam Coleman and Troy Norman for the trophy pictures.

YAC at Fishing Camp by Don Lamont

The Swan Valley Sport Fishing Enhancement Group has been holding a Learn to Fish Camp at Wellman Lake since 2010. In August, twenty-six youth enjoyed five days of learning from a wide variety of instructors. Fisheries technician Holly Urban along with partner Brock Koutecky organized the dynamic event held at the Wellman Lake United Church camp. Professional angler Don Lamont attended the Friday session, providing an on-dock seminar before the young anglers hit the water. Don took out five different groups of youth during the course of the day.

During lunch hour Lamont told the students about the upcoming Youth Angling Art Contest. This year’s subject will be the lake sturgeon. One of the camp attendees, was second in the contest last year. Katie Smith was in Don’s boat in the morning session, putting her rod and reel that she won in the contest, to good use. Lamont visited four schools in the Swan River district last November and a number of the students at the camp were in the classroom at his presentations.

Students Tagging Lake Sturgeon by Don Lamont

Twenty students from Centennial School in Lac du Bonnet enjoyed a memorable day on June 11th at the Seventh Annual Reel Solutions for Youth event. Supported by the Lac du Bonnet Wildlife Association with assistance from the MLOA Hunter and Angler Preservation Fund, students received rods, reels and tackle boxes along with a chance to learn from professional angler Don Lamont and Regional Fisheries Manager Derrick Kroeker. After a seminar on fish biology and fishing techniques, the students were treated to a special event at the end of the dock.

The YAC feature fish was on full display! Regional fisheries biologist Ken Kansas along with Kevin from the Whiteshell Fish Hatchery brought some lake sturgeon into the main dock to show the students the work the department was doing on tagging and long term study of this endangered species. The fish were caught in nets, then transported to be weighed, tagged and aged. More than 30 lake sturgeon were tagged and released unharmed. Students helped handle the fish and release them. After a hot dog lunch, the kids fished for two hours off the town dock.

YAC in the Schools – Spring 2015 by Don Lamont

It was a cold day in May as I joined more than 35 students from the Miles Mac Angling Club to promote the Youth Angling Card Artwork Contest. They were fishing the Red River from shore as part of their annual fishing derby. Tim Au, who has been running the club for a number of years, was surprised by the coolness of the wind, but not of the spirit of his club members.

Students were constantly casting their lines and checking up to see how other members were doing. You could see the excitement in their faces every time someone hooked into and landed a fish. While the action was not and heavy because of fast current and really muddy water, the enthusiasm was still there.

Global television was out at the event, recording the moment. Au gets a lot of media attention because of the work he does. Now he has spawned interest in a number of other schools to get clubs working in their high schools. Daniel McIntyre has 40 students this year in the program, the first year of its existence.

Meantime Tim Au hopes these types of programs continue to grow all over the province, eventually one day turning into a provincial high school event. Au says the program will wrap up with a donation to a couple of charities including the Kids Fishing For a Cure program. The students finished off their annual derby with a shoreline cleanup.

2016 Contest Opener

The fishing season opens on May 9th in southern Manitoba and May 16th in northern Manitoba. Spring weather has arrived and to keep you busy until fishing begins, we’ve decided to get an early start with the 2016 Contest opener.

This year’s feature fish is the lake sturgeon and we have created a new four-page submissions package to help you with your entry. We are also booking school visits for the spring and fall, so please contact us if you know of a school and teacher who would be willing to host a presentation about fish and fishing.

Thanks to the support of Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship, these submissions packages will also be distributed to kids who participate in Fish Winnipeg, the City’s Learn to Fish programs, and the Winnipeg Fish Festival.

HAPF supports the YAC

We are exciting for the program when we receive a letter like this from Paul Turenne, Executive Director of the Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association:

“The MLOA board has approved in full your application for $2,500 to perform school visits promoting fishing and the youth angling card contest. The board believes this project will prove beneficial to the future of angling in Manitoba, and that it also helps us achieve the goals of our Hunter and Angler Preservation Fund, which are to promote and preserve opportunities to fish and hunt in Manitoba for residents and visitors alike, for generations to come.”

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We have now doubled our budget for school visits, and we are now planning to be in classrooms in May and June, in addition to the fall visits that are funded by the FEF. Please contact John Toone ( if you know of a teacher and school willing to host a presentation about fish, fishing and stewardship.

Thank you to the Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association and the Hunter and Angler Preservation Fund.