An Assessment of the 2002 Summer Sport Fishery for Walleye and Northern Pike at Winefred Lake, Alberta
The Province of Alberta implemented new management strategies in 1996 for walleye and in 1999 for pike, in an effort to recover or maintain Alberta's walleye and pike fisheries. In 1996, the walleye fishery at Winefred Lake was classified as a stable fishery, defined using provincial government criteria (Berry 1996), with a 43 cm total length (TL) and 3 walleye daily-bag limit implemented to assist with the recovery of this fishery. Changes to the regulations occurred in 1999, when the pike fishery was classified as vulnerable, defined using Provincial Government criteria (Berry 1998). As a result, a 63 cm total length (TL), 3 fish daily-bag limit for pike was applied. During the same year, the walleye fishery at Winefred Lake was reclassified as vulnerable and the minimum size increased to 50 cm TL. In 2002, the pike fishery was again updated and a 70 cm (TL), 2 fish daily-bag limit was implemented.
A creel survey was used to assess the walleye and northern pike sport fisheries at Winefred Lake between 23 May and 17 August 2003. It was estimated that 3,556 anglers (95% CI = 3,027 - 4,135, n = 828) fished Winefred Lake for 12,351 hours (95% CI = 10,343-14,579, n = 2,878) or 0.98 hours/hectare (95% CI = 0.81-1.15). The sport yield of walleye and pike was 0.10 (95% CI = 0.77-1.27) and 0.16 kg/hectare (95% CI = 0.11-0.22), respectively.
Broad age-class and length frequency distributions and low densities are indicative of an overfished stock, in this case both walleye and pike. When walleye densities are low, it is expected that young walleye will experience increased growth rates as evidenced by this creel survey.
Observed and estimated pike catch rates were very low. Older, larger pike made up the majority of the catch with little evidence of recruitment. Anglers had minimal success catching a legal-size pike and there was a moderate level of inequality in the distribution of catch.