Wapiti River Watershed Study Progress Report 2001
Paul J. Hvenegaard
During 2000 –2001, data on fish and fish habitat were collected on the Wapiti, Beaverlodge and Redwillow river to satisfy specific informational needs for each river. In the Wapiti River, radio transmittered bull trout selected areas in the upper Narraway River for spawning and overwintered in the general vicinity of the Narraway River mouth plus the effluent areas of the lower Wapiti River. Radio transmittered Arctic grayling overwintered in the mouth areas of 3 prominent creeks. Electrofishing surveys indicated that mountain whitefish, Arctic grayling and bull trout were the most abundant sportfish. Highest abundance of sportfish occurred in the upper reach of the Wapiti River. In the spring of 2000, more than 200 Arctic grayling were enumerated with a fish trap and fence constructed in the Redwillow River. A select sample was implanted with radio transmitters to facilitate movement monitoring. The upstream migration commenced in late April, peaked in early May and was complete by mid May. Spawning occurred in the upper reaches of the Redwillow River downstream of an impassable set of falls. By the end of May, most Arctic grayling had retreated to the Wapiti River. Numerous beaver dams in the Beaverlodge River prevented any migration of Arctic grayling. No Arctic grayling were captured throughout the Beaverlodge and Redwillow sub-basins and sportfish were extremely rare. All inventory sites in the Beaverlodge sub-basin were rated as having low potential for spawning and medium to low potential for rearing and overwintering respectively. The Redwillow River sub-basin was characterised by high quality habitat. Priority protection areas and suggestions for future inventory needs are provided.