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  • Attn. Dwayne Latty and Becky Skaarsen, Thank you for your answers to the LKTR webinar questions last night. Some of mine are related to the possibility that fishing tournaments like the one held in 2022, may lead to unsustainable harvesting. I want to be clear on my thinking. The 2022 tournament had 400 registered participants who entered 726 fish. The entire tournament was catch-and- release. A rough estimate of total fish mortality is as follows: Say 15 fish caught for every entry = 10,890 fish total caught. Rebecca: 15% is the number I heard you use for winter catch-and-release fishing LKTR mortality last night. Due to adverse weather conditions the mortality may be higher. Dwayne: you indicated that fish >75cm length represent only 1.5% of the population. My sense from fishing the lake winter and summer is that 10:1 is a rough number for catching a slot limit fish. (Note: same experience catching slot limit walleye at Marie Lake.) The summer mortality number that you used was 25%. I have not considered the two summer Cold Lake tournaments that have been held. I understand that the participant numbers were 200 per tourney. Per last night answers estimate 15% mortality of fish caught and released = 1634 dead fish from the 2022 ice fishing tournament. The average weight of fish taken is unknown (only length measured in the tourney) but say 5kg per fish then = 8170 kg of fish dead. A more accurate estimate could be obtained by using the length-weight chart formula and using it to get an estimated weight for each of the 726 fish entered into the event. Last night I asked about the estimated available harvest that has been stated as 4600 kg/year in 1994, and repeated again last night. What was not said last night was that the Alberta side allocation is actually 70% or 3200 kg/year. Therefore, the “harvest” for the tourney exceeds the stated available harvest amount. This clearly seems wrong but how so? Dwayne stated last night that the fish density has increased to 17 fish/ha. A 1994 harvestable surplus was stated to be 0.13 kg/ha. What does an increase to 17 fish /ha come to in the modelling. What numbers are being put into SPIN? What are the actual 2019 SPIN results? Is SPIN density based on number of fish caught in a standardized netting effort? (hours fished, gang nets, mesh size, location (surface, bottom and shoreline), panels etc. Certainly the number of LKTR has increased. So has the angling effort. The 130,000 angling hours effort was estimated in 2012. The amount of effort has increased substantially since then. How much is unknown. The number of fishing tournaments, and high prize amounts, have also greatly increased angler interest. I asked a question in the 2022 ice fishing tournament survey questionaire to try and estimate Catch Per Unit Effort for that event. A rough estimate for catching the 726 fish entered may be: 400 entrants, 60 hours available for fishing, say 24, 24, and 12 hours potentially during the three days but estimating just 10 hours per day for a total of 30 hrs/entrant = 12,000 hrs. This is clearly a low estimate as the average party size was higher and many non-participant recreational anglers came out to try their luck.

    Sikstrom asked over 1 year ago

    In 1994 the allocation was set at 0.13 kg/ha, or 4,600 kg to facilitate recovery of the lake trout population. The population has now recovered to the point that we are able to manage for sustainable harvest. Saskatchewan and Alberta have agreed that the previous annual allocation is no longer needed to manage the fishery sustainably and that restriction is no longer required or followed. 

    SPIN, or Summer Profundal Index Netting is a standardized gill-netting methodology involving nets set for two hours in a number of depth strata. SPIN density estimates are based on area-weighted stratified sampling catch rates of lake trout larger than 300 mm.. The overall catch rate is converted to a density estimate based on the surface area of Cold Lake. The 2019 SPIN density of fish over 300 mm was 17 fish/ha. We also look at adult densities to compare to our FSI risk matrix. 

    Competitive Fishing Events are popular activities that can have a place in a well-managed fishery. While we are able to calculate a rough estimate of CFE-related mortality for lake trout on Cold Lake, we do have the ability to determine with a high degree of certainty what the status of the lake trout population is. We have been and will continue to monitor the Cold Lake trout population at regular intervals to track the stability/sustainability of the population, and take appropriate management actions to prevent collapse.

    There isn’t an allocation for competitive fishing events on Cold Lake. CFEs on Cold Lake account for less than 2,000 angler trips annually, compared to the 32,886 angler trips (28,440–37,632) estimated in 2012. It is assumed that recreational effort is much higher today than in 2012, making the CFE portion of the overall angling effort even smaller.

  • Questions submitted for Webinar REGULATIONS OPTIONS The 3 options provided seem limited. How about the option of one lake trout regardless of size? The number of fish caught and released for a “keeper” is a factor in how many fish die per fish kept (harvest). The more difficult it is to keep one, the more fish a competitive angler will catch. FISH SUSTAINABILITY INDEX What is the current estimated harvestable surplus kg/year?. A 1995 presentation says 4600 kg/year with a 70/30 split between the two provinces. Have the SPIN risk categories been finalized? What changes have occurred since the last survey in 2019.? Are more SPIN surveys planned? ANGLING EFFORT Reported 2012 angling effort 130, 000 hours (75% summer) What is the angling effort now? Ice fishing? Charter fishing? Tournaments? Is tournament fishing considered in your estimates of sustainability? FISH 60 CM MATURITY How old is a 60 cm mature lake trout? What is the average: -weight of a lake trout? -age? Maturity estimates for 60, 70 and 75 cm fish are 10, 7, and 4 years of post length limit spawning FISH SUSTAINABILITY INDEX What is the sustainable annual harvest estimate in kg at present? Harvestable surplus was considered to by 0.13 kg/ha in 1994: 3200 kg/year for Alberta side of the Lake. ANNUAL HARVEST 1987 AGREEMENT—ALLOCATION Fishing tournaments seem more popular. What say does Saskatchewan have regarding approval of fishing tournaments held on the Alberta side of Cold Lake? BAIT BAN I would support a bait ban for lake trout but wonder how that might affect fishing for other species e.g. Burbot, pike and whitefish How about a single line limit for fishing lake trout through the ice? MISCELLANEOUS Lake trout are known to spawn in near shore areas of Cold Lake and within the Cold River itself: Are they different populations? Will lake trout of the past size ever occur in Cold Lake again? Fish greater than 40, 50 and even 74 pounds were caught or netted in Cold Lake in the past. RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES Are there any tagged fish in Cold Lake? Different methods: floy tags, radio active tags, finray clipping etc. SPIN surveys processing? Most recent survey 2019. AI photo recognition for individual fish identification? They already do it for various mammals. Angler surveys of effort, results, fishing methods etc. During 2022 lake trout ice fishing tournament, many entries were made during the hours between midnight and morning daylight 10:00, (44 in a 3-day period). 27 entries were reported between midnight and 01:00. Is night feeding on cisco occurring in Cold Lake?

    Sikstrom asked over 1 year ago

    Hi there, thanks for your questions! We have categorized responses to your questions based off the headings used in your submission. 

    REGULATIONS OPTIONS

    We modelled the “one lake trout, any size” regulation option and found that it was not sustainable.   Protection of immature fish is crucial for maintaining a sustainable sport fishery. You can view all modelled options in the working group summary report: https://open.alberta.ca/publications/lake-trout-working-group-for-cold-lake-summary-report 

    There is a common misconception that if a keeper is easier to find, it will reduce handling mortality. This only works for the very few people who fish solely for food. We've seen many times in creel surveys that anglers catch a keeper, legally retain it, and continue fishing for enjoyment. Or they don't keep anything at all. Release mortality doesn't change in this case.

    FISH SUSTAINABILITY INDEX 

    SPIN density estimates are based on area-weighted stratified sampling catch rates of lake trout larger than 300 mm. Fish under 300 mm do not recruit well to our sampling gear due to their behaviour (crypsis). The overall catch rate is converted to a density estimate based on the surface area of Cold Lake. We also look at adult densities to compare to our FSI risk matrix.

    Modern fisheries management avoids the history of failure of attempting to manage for sustainable yield by focusing on protecting immature fish from harvest, and limiting harvest when necessary. That said, adult densities of lake trout have been increasing under current angling effort on Cold Lake.  

    FISH 60 CM MATURITY

    Based on data from our 2019 SPIN survey, a 60 cm lake trout is typically 10 or 11 years old. The average weight of the lake trout caught in this survey was 2.2 kg.

    ANGLING EFFORT

     There is no updated estimate of angling effort since the 2012 creel survey, nor have fisheries biologists calculated a “maximum sustainable yield” or surplus to manage the fishery against. Effort estimates do include ice fishing, open water fishing, and charters. No tournaments were held at the time of the last creel survey, but effects on the trout population are considered when biologists evaluate CFE applications.

    Competitive Fishing Events are popular activities that can have a place in a well-managed fishery. We are able to calculate a rough estimate of CFE-related mortality for lake trout on Cold Lake, and we have the ability to determine with a high degree of certainty what the status of the lake trout population is. We have been and will continue to monitor the Cold Lake trout population at regular intervals to track the stability/sustainability of the population, and take appropriate management actions to prevent collapse.

    ANNUAL HARVEST 1987 AGREEMENT—ALLOCATION

    In 1994 the allocation was set at 0.13 kg/ha, or 4,600 kg. The two provinces shared the 4,600 kg/year allocation, which was the recommended conservation and recovery allocation based on the lower density of lake trout at that time. 

    The population has now recovered to the point that we are able to manage for sustainable harvest. Saskatchewan and Alberta have agreed that the previous annual allocation is no longer needed to manage the fishery sustainably. The allocation did play an important part in the recovery, but that restriction is no longer required or followed.

    We no longer use a weight-based allocation for competitive fishing events on Cold Lake. We limit participant numbers for CFEs on Cold Lake, and CFEs account for less than 2,000 angler trips annually compared to the 32,886 angler trips (28,440–37,632) estimated in 2012. It is assumed that recreational effort is much higher today than in 2012, making the CFE portion of the overall angling effort even smaller. 

    MISCELLANEOUS

    Lake trout spawning near the shore areas of Cold Lake and within the mouth of the Cold River are the same population. 

    RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES

    We do not currently have any questions about the lake trout population that would be sufficiently addressed by the significant effort it would require to mark or tag fish in Cold Lake.

  • I realize the Brown Trout are not native to Alberta, but, in Central Alberta there are a lot of Brown trout waters that never seem to get any attention - why not?

    gpvegter asked over 1 year ago

    Alberta Environment and Protected Areas relies heavily on angler reports to identify issues with many of our central Alberta brown trout fisheries, and welcome any feedback on what anglers are experiencing when utilizing these fisheries. This feedback, both positive and negative is important as it assists us in identifying issues that require additional investigation. 

    An example, in 2013, a population estimate was conducted for brown trout on the North Raven River indicating that the population there was relatively stable compared to previous surveys. To date, angler reports confirm catches of quality sized brown trout. EPA also works continuously with partners on the management of riparian areas in the North Raven River to address any concerns raised.

    Additionally, each fall since 1991, fisheries staff have conducted a brown trout redd survey on the Red Deer River; surveying the section of river downstream of Dickson Dam to just upstream of the Medicine River confluence. This survey acts as a surrogate in monitoring the adult brown trout population within the tail water portion of the Red Deer River. If you are interested in this information, please reach out to our Red Deer Fisheries biologist (Regional Fisheries Contact Map)

    Going forward, the Alberta Conservation Association is planning to assess the upper Little Red Deer River fishery, which will improve our understanding of this fishery.

    As you can see, feedback from anglers plays an important role in identifying both opportunities and challenges with our fisheries and we truly appreciate any feedback received from our community.

  • Is there any place to see a listing of existing Watercourse Crossing reports? I know of a bad crossing on Harold Creek (west of Water Valley) that is a problem. I don't want to report on a crossing that might already have been identified.

    gpvegter asked over 1 year ago

    Alberta’s Watercourse Crossing Program (https://www.alberta.ca/watercourse-crossing-program.aspx) is a coordinated provincial program to identify watercourse crossings that area causing fish habitat fragmentation and prioritize their remediation. As part of this program, a database of watercourse crossing inspections is maintained, with information being submitted through a variety of routes. The easiest way for members of the public to submit information on problem crossings is to use the Alberta Watercourse Crossing Inventory App (ABWCI App). On this app, you can record information on the condition of a crossing, including photos, which are then sent to the provincial database. During review of the data, duplicate inspections can be identified and so there is no risk to submitting data on a crossing that may have already been inspected by someone else. And because crossing conditions change over time, multiple inspections of the crossing taken at different times can sometimes be useful for assessing its condition accurately.

    To learn more about the Watercourse Crossing Program, please contact aep.wccrossing@gov.ab.ca

  • After the addition of the Ecological Significant Areas (ESAs) legislation to the federal Fisheries Act in 2013, have any efforts been made by the province to establish these types of areas either for the protection or restoration of native trout and their habitat?

    skotay asked over 1 year ago

    The federal Fisheries Act is administered by the federal department, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). The Alberta Government does not have the authority to use tools such as ecologically significant areas (ESAs) as described in the federal act. But, due to the nature of ESA’s as an area-based tool, we understand that their development will be collaborative. In the recent amendments to the federal Fisheries Act in 2019, the federal government modernized and strengthened the provisions associated with ESAs. DFO is currently developing a National Framework for identifying, establishing, and managing ESAs. More information and a draft policy for review are available on DFO’s engagement web page at https://www.talkfishhabitat.ca/

  • Why are there no lakes in zone 1 with single barbless hooks, no bait, catch and release. So I don't have to go to BC for awesome quality catch and release fishing for trout?

    4fisin asked over 1 year ago

    Alberta has a variety of lakes that are managed to balance angling experiences while providing harvest opportunities for consumption of fish. Environment and Protected Areas (EPA) manages several lakes as Quality Stocked Fisheries, with the objective to provide the opportunity to catch large, trophy size, memorable fish while maintaining opportunity for harvest of bigger fish in those lakes. 

    Some examples of High Quality fisheries managed with large minimum size limits, and bait bans, in ES1 include: 

    • >50cm:
      •  Police Outpost Lake, 
      • Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes, 
      • Sparrow’s Egg Lake,     
      • Pine Coulee Reservoir. 
    • >40cm:
      •  Barnaby Lake, 
      • Hogarth Lakes, 
      • Rainy Ridge Lake, 
      • Rummel Lake, 
      • Smuts Lake, 
      • Southfork Lake, 
      • Stenton Lake, 
      • Sunken (Champion) Lakes.

     

    Additionally, EPA has several waterbodies with 0 harvest and bait bans in ES1 including Picklejar Lakes, Rawson Lake and Watridge Lake. 

     At this time, Alberta does not have a requirement to use barbless hooks, but will be consulting with the general public to discuss potential application of this regulation in specific waterbodies in the future.

  • Has any work been done on the Bull Trout within the James River watershed?

    gpvegter asked over 1 year ago

    Alberta Environment and Protected Areas has recently been focusing bull trout recovery actions on other high priority watersheds, such as Clearwater River and upper Red Deer River. We have also been working with partners to gather information on the status of the bull trout population in the James River watershed. 

    The Alberta Conservation Association collected data on bull trout abundance and distribution in the James River watershed in 2018 and 2019. Based on this information and data on landscape level threats, EPA is working on identifying the major threats to bull trout in the James River and potential recovery projects. There are also province wide bull trout recovery projects that include components in the James River watershed, such as the watercourse crossing program.

  • which reservoirs in southern alberta are planned to be FIN surveyed in 2023?Thanks.

    BRAD MASER asked over 1 year ago

    Thank you for your question. Fisheries staff in the South Region are still in the very early work-planning phases for the upcoming year, and no specific reservoirs have been identified yet for FIN surveys in 2023. South Fisheries staff will be incorporating input received from the recent engagements to set work priorities and for selection of possible waterbodies and reservoirs to be sampled later this season.  In addition, other important considerations such as irrigation water management, reservoir operation levels, available resources, and especially additional input received from anglers and other stakeholders throughout the summer are also factored and considered into the final decision making as to which waterbodies and reservoirs will be sampled in later this Fall.  We encourage you to follow-up with your local Fisheries Biologist if there is a specific waterbody or reservoir you are interested in, and again in late summer for a list of waterbodies planned to be sampled in the fall.

  • After completing the assessment in the Muskeg River, will there be a formal report available to the public, other than the information in FWIMT. The same question can be asked of the work completed in the Upper Clearwater watershed (Rocky Creek).

    Chad Judd asked over 1 year ago

    Hello, work is currently underway on a number of reports related to the bull trout habitat reclamation work on Rocky Creek in the upper Clearwater River watershed. The goal is for these reports to be published and made available publicly in a number of places, including Open Alberta and through a peer reviewed scientific publication. In the meantime, please feel free to contact the area biologist for Rocky Mountain House to obtain more information about this project and its results.

  • I was just able to watch the Cold Lake regulation change video on YouTube. In regards to Dwayne’s graph he posted about the sizes of lake trout. Is the information that is captured from the My Catch app during the cold lake tournaments used for any sort of data collection?

    Ryan Simard asked over 1 year ago

    Thanks for your question. We don’t currently use tournament data directly from the MyCatch app – the app is not affiliated with Alberta Environment and Protected Areas. However, organizers of Competitive Fishing Events in Alberta are required to submit a Summary Report within 14 days after their event has taken place. The information provided in the Summary Form helps biologists understand the sustainability of these fish populations and fisheries for future events.

    For more information on the Summary Form and Competitive Fishing Events in Alberta, please visit: My Wild Alberta - Competitive Fishing Events page