Status of the Summer Sport Fishery for Walleye and Northern Pike at Shiningbank Lake, Alberta, 2004


Mike Blackburn


In the mid to late 1990s, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (ASRD) developed the Alberta Walleye Management and Recovery Plan (WMRP) and the Alberta Northern Pike Management and Recovery Plan (NPMRP) to aid in the recovery of declining walleye (Sander vitreus) and northern pike (Esox lucius) populations throughout the province. Using guidelines in these plans, populations of these species in all lakes in Alberta were assigned to one of four management status categories: 1) collapsed, 2) vulnerable, 3) stable, or 4) trophy. Shiningbank Lake, northeast of Edson, Alberta, was classified as having a stable walleye population from 1996 to 2000, which allowed sport anglers to harvest three walleye (daily bag limit) with a minimum size limit of 43 cm total length (TL). In 2000, restrictive walleye management strategies were imposed by ASRD, and Shiningbank Lake was managed as a collapsed walleye population with a catch-and-release or zero bag limit regulation. In 1998, northern pike regulations allowed anglers to harvest ten northern pike of any size at Shiningbank Lake. From 1999 to 2004, the northern pike sport fishery was managed as a stablerecreational fishery, restricting sport harvest to three northern pike daily with a minimum size limit of 63 cm TL.

From 21 May to 22 August 2004, Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) conducted a summer creel survey at Shiningbank Lake to evaluate the status of walleye and northern pike populations. Using angler interview data it was estimated that 2,282 anglers fished Shiningbank Lake for 6,484 h or 14.0 angler-h/ha. Angling pressure was low in 2004 compared to estimates in 1998 during which 3,720 anglers fished the lake for 7,961 h or 17.2 angler-h/ha.

In 2004, there was no observed illegal harvest of walleye during the survey period. The reported release rate of walleye was 0.408 fish/h resulting in an estimated release of 4,084 walleye. The estimated total yield (harvested + incidental mortality) of walleye was 147 fish or 0.371 kg/ha.

As estimated 11 northern pike were harvested during the creel survey with a mean weight of 1.625 kg, resulting in a yield of 0.039 kg/ha. This estimate was low compared to the 1998 survey when an estimated 1,574 northern pike were harvested. In 2004, anglers reported a release rate of 1.288 fish/h for a total release of 1,473 northern pike. The total yield of northern pike (harvested + incidental mortality) was 312 or 0.638 kg/ha.

In general, Shiningbank Lake had low-to-moderate densities of walleye (> 50 cm TL) with an unstable age-class distribution composed of moderately-fast growing, moderately-slow maturing fish. Based on criteria in the WMRP, the walleye population at Shiningbank Lake in 2004 was likely vulnerable-to-collapsed.

Estimates for five of the nine criteria in the NPMRP used to classify northern pike populations indicated that the pike population at Shiningbank Lake was vulnerable. Of the remaining four criteria, estimates for three indicated a collapsed pike population and one indicated a stable population. Generally, the northern pike population at Shiningbank Lake in 2004 could be classified as vulnerable.

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