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Do you have a question regarding the 2022-23 Sportfishing Regulations Engagement? Add it here, and our fisheries management experts will strive to provide an answer within five business days. As more questions are added, use the search or "tag" functions to read others questions and answers! To return to the main engagement webpage, click here

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    Why does Alberta not change the regulations for British Columbia fishers who come over to Alberta to fish rivers such as the Bow River and Crowsnest? When I go down to Fernie and fish the Elk I have to buy a day license over and above the B.C. annual. I know there are B.C guides who take clients into Alberta and there is no extra cost to them. Why is Alberta not putting on similar regulations. Fair is fair. We care about our rivers/fish just as much as the B.C gov't and fishers.

    Jeff Howatt asked 4 months ago

    Thank your for the question! There is a recognition from Alberta Fisheries and the angling community regarding a concern around non-resident anglers and guides in southern Alberta waterbodies like the Bow River or east slopes streams.

    Although Alberta does not have waterbody specific limitations at this time, there are additional costs for non-residents to angle in the province. The cost of licencing for non-resident Canadians are $25 for one day, $41 for seven days or $60 for the season (April 1-Mar. 31). Licencing information is listed on page 18 of the 2021-22 Sportfishing Regulations Guide. As you may be aware, Alberta is considering implementing an angling guide licence which would also have a fee structure for users. 

    For more information on southern Alberta sportfisheries and updates to fisheries management, please watch the recordings of webinars here, https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLs-ajGFQ-dRZckTp9Njoz4xXrDsCf2rxv

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    Is there any data on the perch population in Elkwater Lake.Thanks.

    BRAD MASER asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for your question about Elkwater Lake.  Yellow Perch were introduced to Elkwater Lake in 1940 and 1945, and have since established a self-sustaining population.  This waterbody was last surveyed in 1999, with focus on Northern Pike.  Anecdotal information suggests that about 50% of people that fish at Elkwater Lake, are specifically targeting Yellow Perch.  Current regulations for Elkwater Lake are 3 Northern Pike, any size and 15 Yellow Perch.   

    An interesting side note – in 1950, 1951 and 1952 attempts to establish a self-sustaining Walleye fishery were unsuccessful. 

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    please consider handicap fishing regulations for rivers. allow bait and limited fish retention. difficult to flyfish from a wheelchair on shore. sorry if a repeat, having trouble with your website.

    calgarystower asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for bringing the issue of accessibility to angling water to our attention. The satisfaction of stakeholders is an important factor is successful fisheries management and you raise good point about access. 

    Physical access is somewhat out of the authority of Fish and Wildlife Stewardship Branch, despite its importance to us. In many cases access points are owned, and/or managed by local municipalities, private land owners, or our government colleagues in Parks Operations Division, or Lands Division. 

    Your questions have prompted us to contact our colleagues in Parks as well as our partners at the Alberta Conservation Association. Parks manages infrastructure at many angling waters around the province and have a commitment to ensuring accessibility to recreation through their infrastructure planning and design. The ACA stocks a number of waters across the province and also have a commitment to improving angler access. They do regular inventories of their sites, through the Fisheries Access Site Management project. Locations and facilities are available here: https://www.ab-conservation.com/featured-projects/land/fisheries-access-sites/. The ACA also offers grants to organizations who build accessible fishing infrastructure through the annual Community, Conservation and Education Grants. 

    The question of additional harvest opportunities and the use of natural baits in rivers is largely one of appropriate conservation regulations to ensure sustainability. Conservation of fish resources is our highest priority. In many cases there are river fisheries that do allow the use of baits, and also permit retention of some fish species. The annual sport fishing regulations will highlight where this is allowed. In rivers where there is no bait allowed it is often because of the vulnerability of species in those waters to natural baits and risk of additional mortality if natural baits were commonly used. Some fish species have a zero retention regulation in rivers because of risks to population, and their high-risk, or data deficient conservation status.  

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    Is Bullshead Reservoir on the stocking list for 2022 and if not why?

    BRAD MASER asked 4 months ago

    Hi there, thanks for the question regarding the status of Bullshead Reservoir!

    Bullshead Reservoir recently experienced significant fish kills in 2018 and 2019.  As a result, fisheries along with assistance from Alberta’s Environmental Monitoring and Science Division (EMSD) water scientists have been actively monitoring water quality at this reservoir to assess habitat suitability for stocked trout.   Monitoring has occurred over the past seasons (2019-2021) and the results are currently being finalized by EMSD staff.   During this time trout stocking was suspended, and as such, no trout have been stocked since September of 2019.   Preliminary results suggest that both dissolved oxygen levels and high ammonia are presently contributing factors that are negatively effecting the ability for trout to survive in this reservoir.   This unfortunately is not unique to Bullshead Reservoir as other provincially stocked trout waterbodies in various other areas of the province have also experienced reduced water quality over time.  Generally this has been attributed to higher nutrient inputs and accumulation, where now some of these waterbodies are at a point where trout survival is not possible at certain times of the year, or even not at all.  Once the monitoring findings are shared with fisheries and if there tangible options to address the water quality concerns going forward, future management and possible stocking options may be considered for Bullshead Reservoir.  However, given the current situation and status; Bullshead Reservoir is not currently on the 2022 stocking list.

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    What is the status of the Burbot population in Alberta and why is conversation of this species not better regulated? I am seeing a large number of Burbut being harvested from lakes as it becomes a more popular tarted species by anglers.

    litwin asked 4 months ago

    It is challenging to sample for burbot to get an overall status across Alberta. Burbot as a sport fish (and great table fish) has had a strong following in Alberta for decades. In the 1980s, very popular sport fisheries developed on several central Alberta lakes, almost exclusively during late winter ice fishing. We have heard back from anglers complaining about fewer and smaller fish (a clear symptom of overharvest). As a result, we conducted research on burbot at Lac Ste. Anne, and learned just how old they can be and how slow they grew in Alberta. In particular, we learned how vulnerable they are to being caught by ice-fishermen during the spawning season (March). Based on this, and on warnings from our colleagues’ experiences in Montana and elsewhere about how vulnerable burbot can be to ice-fishing overharvest during spawning, we protected the vulnerable spawning concentrations at popular lakes.

    When a species of fish is vulnerable to fishing on its spawning grounds, and heavy fishing pressure is likely, it’s good management to restrict harvest during spawning. We take similar actions for other species in the province. If burbot fishing becomes very popular on other lakes, the spawning closure option is always considered  as one of the most effective tools we can employ to protect this very cool sport fish.

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    Wh is the 2021 FIN survey atLake Newell for pike so unbelievably low at 1.7 per net.This does not align with catch rates from anglers.Pike are being caught in good numbers all season long.I believe the test nets are being placed in walleye areas and not representing and accurate account of the northern pike population.

    BRAD MASER asked 4 months ago

    Hi there - thanks for the question! Using angling as a tool to determine fish abundance has challenges. Anglers tend to fish where the habitat is high quality, because this is where the fish prefer to be, which results in fish being caught more easily. As well, top predators such as pike have evolved to be very aggressive where the growing season is short and they must obtain prey while conditions are favorable. Often high angling catch rates for pike can still occur despite the population being at very low abundance and very high risk to sustainability.

    Alberta uses a North American accepted standard of lake fisheries assessment called fall index netting (FIN) to monitor walleye and Northern pike populations. During each FIN survey, net locations are selected randomly throughout the lake. If nets were set only in high quality habitats, we would get biased information. To read more about fall index netting (FIN), visit https://www.alberta.ca/fall-index-netting-overview.aspx.

    Northern pike in Lake Newell have been assessed as very high risk to sustainability and are currently managed with a zero possession limit (catch and release) to support recovery action. Lake Newell is a man-made reservoir and while fishing is an important benefit, reservoirs are managed for agricultural production. Reservoirs lack the same fish habitat (e.g. spawning, feeding, and rearing) that have evolved over time in natural lakes. Additionally, variable water levels can be experienced in reservoirs and contribute negatively to fish habitat quality. Due to poor quality or missing habitats in reservoirs, we routinely see weak or missing age classes of fish in reservoirs. This is common throughout southern Alberta reservoirs, and greatly affects our ability to manage sustainable fisheries and contributes to the slow recovery of species.

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    Is it possible to change the Lake Whitefish and Burbot limits from 10 to 5.

    Ed2 asked 4 months ago

    It is possible to change lake whitefish and burbot limits from 10 to 5, and this would be part of reviewing fisheries management objectives for these fisheries.  For both species, a sustainable harvest objective is generally the “default” on the majority of Alberta’s fisheries.  Restricting harvest is associated either with a necessary recovery action or to align with a fisheries management objective.  

    Thankfully lake whitefish populations in most lakes are considered to be doing well (other than where limitations such as periodic winter or summer kill occur), and this is especially noticeable following the commercial fishery closure.   We do have evidence from some lakes that burbot numbers have increased but we are less successful in determining the status of burbot with our most frequently used inventory method, Fall Index Netting.  These are program areas we look to address in future years with expansion of the Fish Sustainability Index for these species.  

    Fisheries management is committed to providing harvest opportunities where available and sustainable: however, if you have noticed a change or a decline in your local fishery please reach out to your local biologist with this information so the problem can be addressed. 

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    Are there any plans to diversify Alberta's stocked species? Maybe non-native species such as crappie can be an option for stocked ponds if they are produced in a matter that makes them sterile like our current trout stocking?

    L0rD_Y33t asked 4 months ago

    Yes. In collaboration with angler groups and other agencies such as the Alberta Conservation Association, we regularly look at species other than Rainbow Trout for stocked ponds. Having good fishing in these stocked ponds is important, as we want to provide fishing in parts of Alberta without easy access to natural waterbodies and native fishes.

    We have two key reasons for investigating alternate species; 

    1) Better survival/growth than trout in Alberta’s stocked ponds, and 

    2) Something “new” to spark interest by anglers. 

    The main problem with many Alberta stocked ponds is habitat quality. Typically, the water is cool (compared to southern areas), oxygen levels are low, and water quality is poor (often too salty, or too basic). Stocked trout do not survive well, but neither do most of the other fishes we’ve investigated. Bass, crappies, and sunfish (and even Yellow Perch) would grow far too slowly. Many other species would not survive under these harsh conditions of water quality. The main advantage of our stocked trout is their fast growth in hatcheries; we can economically stock catchable-sized trout and anglers can enjoy catching them right away. In that case, long-term pond survival is not necessary.

    Given these limitations, our best options for pond stocking have been interesting types of trout. Tiger Trout (a cross between Brook Trout and Brown Trout) is a recent example, as are various strains of Rainbow Trout. 

    None-the-less, we keep looking! Our hatchery folks are always in touch with the wider community of hatcheries in North America, looking for new, economical, and interesting fish for these Alberta stocked pond fisheries.

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    I am curious on the SHL walleye tags for Pigeon Lake. This year there was a great reduction in the number of "B" tags issued for this lake versus past years. Will the reduction of "B" tags continue for this lake? Or is the reduction part of a larger plan to introduce a slot or other type of walleye harvest??

    Eric Selinger asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for your question with respect to the Special Harvest Licence and walleye tag allocation numbers at Pigeon Lake.   Fisheries biologists monitor and assess fish populations each year on various lakes and reservoirs using Fall Index Netting.  Results of these assessments can be found here:  https://www.alberta.ca/fall-index-netting-summaries.aspx  From this information, biologists calculate how many fish can be harvested from the population, while still sustaining a healthy population and continuing to provide other benefits like good catch rates and memorable fishing experiences.

    Pigeon Lake was assessed in September 2020, whereby we noted a substantial decline of walleye in the lake from the previous surveys.  Additionally, there was a ‘Covid fishing response’ in 2020 with an estimated 6x increase in people fishing.  We must account for the number of fish that die from handling and hooking which reduces the number of fish for the SHL. Our 2021 angler survey indicated a return to more average angling pressure but until we see the numbers of fish increase, the SHL numbers will be lower than they were.  To summarize, the number SHL licences and tags issued in 2021 were significantly reduced  to reflect the decline in numbers of walleye in Pigeon Lake, and increase in fishing. At this time, there are no plans to change the management objective nor the regulations at Pigeon Lake.

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    are more QSF lakes planned?...need more with loss of Bullshead, Dipping Vat...existing QSF trout lakes VERY busy and popular...witness fisherman who travel from all over AB to fish lakes like Lower Chain, Dolberg, Beaver, Fiesta, Police Outpost...NEED MORE...more aeration effort is also warranted...partnerships with clubs, counties and gov't

    Jim Skeet asked 4 months ago

    Alberta’s trout stocking program is utilized by tens of thousands of Albertans annually and creates some of Alberta’s most popular fishing destinations. Recently, AEP has diversified stocked trout fish opportunities in several waterbodies by stocking multiple trout species, modifying stocking rates and adopting new regulations. Additionally, new aeration projects are continually being examined for feasibility.   

    Diversifying these trout opportunities and establishing aeration requires careful consideration of habitat and infrastructure suitability and public and stakeholder support. Discussions occur routinely and lead to the screening of potential lake aeration candidates and consultation on fisheries management objectives. 

    For example, one recent successful collaboration among Environment & Parks, the Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) and the County of Barrhead, led to the addition of Peanut Lake to the ACA’s Lake aeration program in the fall of 2021.     More information regarding Alberta’s fish stocking program is available on MyWildAlberta.   Additional information on Alberta’s stocked lakes is available using the ACA’s Discover Guide.

    Currently, Environment and Parks is consulting on a potential Quality Stocked Fishery in Pine Coulee Reservoir. Please take the time to complete the online 2022-23 Sportfishing Regulations Survey and ensure your voice is heard regarding this opportunity to support your desired management objective at this fishery.  Please continue to provide your suggestions to improve our stocked trout fisheries and reach out to your local Fisheries Biologist. Future opportunities to diversify trout fishing will continuously arise and public support is critical in developing these opportunities.