Assessment of Winter Sport Fishery for Lake Whitefish and Northern Pike at Wabamun Lake, Alberta, 2004-2005
David Park and Bill Patterson
For the past several decades, Wabamun Lake has supported provincially important commercial and sport fisheries for lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) and northern pike (Esox lucius). In particular, Wabamun Lake is notable for its winter sport fisheries for these species. In response to angler concerns regarding decreasing fishing success in the lake, the Alberta Conservation Association conducted a creel survey during the winter of 2004-2005 to provide estimates of angler effort and stock yields for lake whitefish and northern pike.
Based on angler interviews conducted from 10 December 2004 to 28 March 2005, an estimated 8,900 anglers (95% CI = 7,425 – 10,503) fished Wabamun Lake for approximately 32,000 h (95% CI = 26,212 - 37,580), with an average of 1.4 lines (rods) per angler, generating approximately 4 angler-h/ha (95% CI = 3.3 – 4.7) and 5.7 rod-h/ha (95% CI = 4.7 – 6.7) of fishing pressure. The majority (86.3%) of lake whitefish anglers (n = 226) used only one line.
Anglers caught 0.108 lake whitefish/h. The estimated angler harvest of lake whitefish was 3,287 fish (95% CI = 2,531 – 4,155), with an estimated mean weight of 0.94 kg/fish (95% CI = 0.91 – 0.96 kg, n = 284). This produced an estimated yield of 0.39 kg/ha (95% CI = 0.30 - 0.49). Few whitefish were released and incidental hooking mortality was inconsequential. Fishery and biological parameters indicated the lake whitefish stock was in a recruitment-overfished state.
The majority (72.2%) of northern pike anglers (n = 122) used two lines (rods). Anglers caught 0.190 pike/rod-h, and reported a release rate of 0.128 fish/rod-h. Estimated angler harvest of northern pike was 3,263 fish (95% CI = 2,381 – 4,077, n = 55). The estimated mean weight of harvested northern pike was 2.99 kg/fish (95% CI = 2.69-3.29), resulting in a yield estimate of 1.23 kg/ha (95% CI = 0.94 – 1.57). Anglers released an estimated 7,240 northern pike (95% CI = 6,045 – 8,535), with assumed 10% incidental hooking mortality, for a total yield estimate (harvested + hooking mortality) of 1.51 kg/ha (95% CI = 1.17-1.89). Fishery and biological parameters indicated the northern pike stock was in a growth-overfished state.