2021 Sportfishing Regulations

Engagement has concluded.

Thank you for your interest in Alberta’s 2021-22 sportfishing regulations engagement. The survey has now closed and the province is considering Albertans’ feedback in the development of the 2021-22 sportfishing regulations.

Throughout the engagement Albertans submitted a variety of questions for the province’s fisheries biologists to answer. You can view the Q&A below.

Learn more about the 2021 sportfishing regulation engagement by returning to the engagement overview page.

Thank you for your interest in Alberta’s 2021-22 sportfishing regulations engagement. The survey has now closed and the province is considering Albertans’ feedback in the development of the 2021-22 sportfishing regulations.

Throughout the engagement Albertans submitted a variety of questions for the province’s fisheries biologists to answer. You can view the Q&A below.

Learn more about the 2021 sportfishing regulation engagement by returning to the engagement overview page.

Engagement has concluded.

Do you have a question about the sportfishing regulations? Add it here, and our fisheries management experts will strive to provide an answer within 3 business days.

  • Regarding Wabamum Lake. I noticed the online survey is asking the public if a limited harvest on certain species should be opened up. Question, has the lake been cleared for consumption since the large oil spill about 20 years ago? Have never heard anything on this topic. Thanks

    Hook asked over 3 years ago

    Fish consumption guidelines are set by Health Canada, and Alberta Health is responsible for fish consumption advisories for Alberta waterbodies. Alberta Environment and Parks provides fish from our surveys to Alberta health periodically for their analysis and reporting. For more information and guidance on fish consumption limits for Wabamun Lake, visit our Fish Consumption Advisory Webpage, and view advisories on Alberta Health’s should I eat this fish application, or you can contact them at 780-427-4518.

  • I was disappointed to see that the online survey did not include anything regarding fisheries management for the lakeland area and only focused on Fort McMurray. My question is below: Should all lakeland area lakes have slot size limits implemented simultaneously? This would allow for angler distribution throughout the area since we should expect increased angling effort once the COVID pandemic is over (Fishing trips with friends outside of your immediate family). Fisherman go where the fish are biting but not everyone will focus on one lake alone. Also, should slot sizes be implemented to protect the strongest age class(es) of fish in the lake and protect them through to spawning age? There is no doubt that your fish in the 48-70 cm range are your most productive spawners vs 40-43 cm fish that are only just reaching maturity. You could allow for harvest of smaller fish, release of mature fish and monitor recruitment once this is implemented. Surely the data is there to support this based on frequent test netting.

    rgerlinsky asked over 3 years ago

    The increased use of harvest slot limit regulations is in its infancy in Alberta. In total, 38 walleye and 19 Northern pike harvest slot limits have been implemented throughout the province with the majority occurring in the Northeast region. We are currently assessing this method for feasibility, sustainability and angler satisfaction in lakes with varying fish abundance. These assessments are designed to determine the suitability of harvest slot regulations and provide the information necessary to identify the factors that would increase the likelihood of success in its implementation on specific lakes or geographic areas.

    Many Alberta lakes have high numbers of anglers and if smaller fish are harvested, it is challenging to ensure that enough fish grow large enough to mature, spawn, and produce sufficient young to sustainably maintain this cycle. This is why Alberta often uses minimum size limits to protect the smaller more abundant fish and maintain more total eggs remaining in our lakes

  • When you have an under performing stocked Walleye population, why is AEP Fisheries not looking at other potential population growth issues and trying to address them to maximize fish production for the angler? Poor recruitment in a stocked walleye fishery? Stock more walleye to fill in the missing year classes and/or assess, add and/or enhance spawning habitat. Goal, overtime is to create a self sustaining population, if possible. If the spawning habitat doesn't work, continue to stock Walleye. In reservoirs, that are drawn down for water needs, stock more walleye. Simple.

    Bubbles asked over 3 years ago

    Alberta has a number of successful and popular walleye fisheries that are the result of stocking. Walleye stocking requires a significant investment from Albertan’s, that not only include the resources necessary to successfully stock walleye, but also the patience required from anglers, as it typically takes 15-20 years to establish a self-sustaining population, and 5-10 years to produce harvestable walleye for put-grow-take fisheries. Alberta has previously focused walleye stocking as a restoration measure where walleye have been extirpated from a waterbody (such as Lac La Biche), and as a means to provide new walleye fishing opportunities (such as Wadlin Lake). Alberta is currently exploring put-grow-take walleye fisheries, where the intent is not a self-sustaining population, which would also incorporate your suggestions of using stocking where habitat is limited or no longer available, or in reservoirs where spawning is impacted by other water needs. These types of fisheries require the investment of frequent stocking in order to continue to provide harvest opportunities, which may result in a trade-off on where the investments are made and how often.

    Walleye stocking is not always successful, and is more often unsuccessful. Often waterbodies have unsuitable or dynamic (changing) characteristics for walleye survival and significant environmental risks. As such, there are very limited options for establishing new publicly accessible walleye fisheries. Using stocking to recover walleye fisheries that are already recovering through actions such as catch and release regulations, seldom has a significant return on the investment. Those recovering populations contribute far more eggs and fry naturally than through stocking efforts, however it does take patience for that recovery to occur.   Alberta’s walleye stocking efforts can then be focused where the return on investment is much higher!

  • Has AEP considered any innovative experiences regarding consumptive harvest opportunities? Something like opening daily harvest limit of one walleye or one pike or 5 perch per day and those fish must be consumed at that lake or even within a provincial park / recreation area? This would provide a beneficial experience for new and seasoned anglers to enjoy Alberta's parks while reducing risk of over harvest. Some of our provincial parks and recreation areas have had campground upgrades which is fantastic to get people outside and enjoying nature. Being able to harvest as indicated above would allow people to enjoy a shore lunch and fresh fish while controlling the "fill your freezer" mentality.

    rgerlinsky asked over 3 years ago

    Many of Alberta’s walleye and pike lakes and fisheries are on lakes with provincial recreation areas or parks, as well as municipal parks and recreation areas, summer villages, and other venues that support recreational angling and tourism.  These lakes are very popular with anglers, and it’s important to ensure that all Alberta anglers have the same opportunities to harvest fish (not just those in a provincial park), as well as share an understanding that Alberta’s fish resources are finite and a “fill your freezer” mentality is not a sustainable approach, nor legally allowed.  The Alberta Sportfishing Guide specifies the maximum number of fish you may have, including at your home under Catch Limits.  Angling pressure on Alberta lakes is very high and managing harvest on a lake is done to keep populations at sustainable levels. While one angler’s catch is no threat, Alberta’s lakes tend to have many anglers that would all like to harvest fish for consumption.   We usually see a summer-season fishing effort of about three fishermen per hectare, however the sustainable annual harvest from a walleye lake is about one walleye per hectare. This means that three fishermen have to find a way to share the harvest of one walleye to remain sustainable. For example, at Buck Lake in the summer of 2020, there were about 26,000 fishermen. The sustainable harvest level was about 5,000 walleye. Even if only a quarter of these fishermen took advantage of an innovative regulation like you have suggested, it would still result in too many fish being harvested to maintain a sustainable population. This is why we use regulations like bag limits, harvest slot sizes and special harvest licences.

  • Hello, I heard that Police Outpost lake was not aerated this winter (2020/2021). Is this true and if so, why not? Can a trophy fishery be maintained without winter aeration? Thank you.

    Teresa A. asked over 3 years ago

    Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) will continue to manage Police (Outpost) Lake as a quality-stocked fishery to provide anglers opportunities to catch large fish, while encouraging the harvest of limited fish numbers to promote sustainability. Aeration of Police (Outpost) Lake was deemed not feasible for Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) to continue while adhering to policy designed to mitigate liability issues. Both AEP and ACA jointly agreed to cease aeration of the lake from the 2020-21 winter forward. 

    Over the last 30 years, the ACA, as well as AEP, aerated Police (Outpost) Lake  for 15 winters, with two recorded partial winterkill events occurring during aeration, and two partial winterkills occurring during non-aeration years. At this time, there is no visible reduction of winterkills due to aeration, which continues to be a rare event in the lake (occurring approximately every six years). AEP is confident, that a quality-stocked fishery can be maintained without aeration.

  • Is there a possibility that Peerless Lake and Graham Lake could have a draw and tag system for walleye and pike?

    WadeGray asked over 3 years ago

    The Special Harvest Licence (SHL) program is currently only for walleye, so there are no Northern pike tags. At this point in time, the walleye population in Peerless and Graham Lakes is at a Very High and High risk to sustainability (respectively) due to low numbers of adult walleye. In addition to the overall low numbers of walleye in each lake, there is no evidence of strong recruitment for the past several years, meaning that the population is at further risk if the existing individuals are not able to spawn before the end of their life cycle. At this point in time, there are no plans to implement a walleye SHL at either of the lakes.

  • In the proposed changes for central and southern Alberta webinar, a participant asked: Can you speak to stream access and trespassing. Many of spring creeks run through private land. Access is becoming more difficult, can you explain high water mark. thank you.

    over 3 years ago

    The ordinary high water mark, also known as the bank, is where upland vegetation ends and aquatic vegetation starts. The area of land below the bank to the waters edge, or exposed bed, is known as the shore. In most cases, the province owns the bed and shores of naturally occurring lakes, rivers and streams, as well as permanent wetlands and naturally occurring bodies of water.

    It is not trespassing to travel below the ordinary high water mark of rivers and streams bounded by private land. However, the public should be mindful that there are some cases where private landowners own the land up to the water’s edge, and permission from the land owner should be obtained.  

    The public can access the beds and shores of public waterbodies by: public roads, road allowances and bridge locations.  Permission should be obtained if you have to cross through private land to get to the bed and shore of waterbody. Recreational users may also access public land under lease – learn more here:  Recreation on agricultural Crown land 

  • Is a system of classified waters similar to those in British Columbia's Elk River valley being considered to assist as a research tool (monitor fishing pressure and angler movement) and fees generated to help fund research into whirling disease in Alberta?

    Jayfxdx asked over 3 years ago

    We are aware of the classified waters licencing system in British Columbia. Before Alberta Environment and Parks would implement a licencing system similar to this, we need to have the action clearly linked to an intended purpose and expected, and understand what the benefits, tradeoffs and costs of doing so would be, and a plan in place for monitoring and assessment of results. It is important that management actions, such as creating additional licensing requirements, only be undertaken when there is a clear need, purpose and benefit, and success can be evaluated.  

    Some potential benefits of using a licensing tool like a classified water system may be increasing revenue to fisheries management (such as funding whirling disease research), managing non-resident fishing effort, or a combination of the two. Our non-resident fishing pressures are likely not as high as in British Colombia, so we would need to be selective where we apply a management action like this. We would also need to complete public engagement and receive broad stakeholder support prior to implementing something like this.

  • Can you implement a mandatory on-line course on the proper way of releasing a fish? I fish at Gull Lake and I'm appalled how some people release fish. I have helped kids on the dock release fish and I can understand a kid having some trouble but I see experience fishermen carelessly toss fish back in. The marina at Sandy Point is the worse where people yard a fish up, 6 ft out of the water, dump them into the dirt, practically sit on them to get the hook out then heave ho them back into the water. I always try to talk to people if in the position to do so but I think a course that you have to complete before receiving a license could be helpful.

    enaglis asked over 3 years ago

    Thank you for the question! AEP staff have observed more Albertans spending time outside during these unprecedented times, with an increase in fishing licence sales. Currently, there are no requirements for a mandatory fish education course, however we do provide information to anglers on a variety of platforms, as do our partner organizations. Taking action such as making a course mandatory would require broad stakeholder support and is not being considered at this time. AEP provides educational information on appropriate fish handling techniques through the sportfishing regulations, videos, webpages and social media posts on our My Wild Alberta Facebook account. AEP also utilizes Family Fishing Weekends to promote educational information on regulations, management and how to be a responsible and ethical angler.

    Partner organizations who support proper fish handling include a free fishing education course from Alberta Hunter Education Instructors Association (AHEIA) which provides anglers an opportunity to learn management, regulations, fish ID, ethical angling methods and skills on how to fish. The Alberta Conservation Association also hosts Kids can Catch events that introduce new anglers to fishing, teaching people how to safely catch and release fish. A newer campaign, called Keep Fish Wet, focuses on proper fish handling and is also being supported by many organizations across Alberta. 

    Thank you for being a good steward and teaching fellow anglers proper fish handling techniques! 

  • Has any thought been given to using tags to manage pike harvest to create more quality pike fisheries? With a tag system, one should be able to shift harvest away from the larger pike while at the time ensuring enough smaller pike can survive to become big pike.

    pikebreath asked over 3 years ago

    Hi there and thanks for the question. 

    The short answer is yes; a Special Harvest Licence (SHL) and tag could work to allocate pike at sustainable levels that support conservation and provide harvest of fish. However, there are many steps that would need to occur in order for Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) to put this management tool in place. 

    AEP would need to adapt the current SHL calculator for northern pike, as the species and fishery are quite different from walleye and its fishery. The calculator determines the allocation of fish available for recreational harvest after considering parameters like angling pressure, illegal harvest, indigenous harvest, abundance, size structure, and tags filled in previous years. 

    Another aspect of that decision would be to ask our stakeholders through a public engagement process if they are supportive of using SHL for pike management. Since AEP has received both support and criticism for the walleye SHL program, we would ask questions about developing the SHL for other species, including size categories and the inherent trade-offs or risks.