Get Reacquainted With Hasse

Big trout and easy access made it one of the best fishing lakes in Parkland County. Families came to fish and the water gave back—this fishery was a vibrant, popular memory-maker.

But like a memory fades, so did the lake. The fish weren’t there. It wasn’t one pivotal moment—with excessive nutrient loading (from surface runoff), naturally high productivity, noxious algal blooms, and startlingly low levels of oxygen—recurring fish kills were inevitable. Add in frequent public health advisories for fecal coliform contamination, and the people weren’t there either. By 2012, Hasse Lake was no longer a recreational fishery.

Fortunately, conservation is about second chances. The Alberta Fish and Game Association reminded us of that—bringing the plight of Hasse Lake to our attention for fisheries restoration work. ACA couldn’t ignore that the lake’s volume of deep water makes for valuable fish habitat, especially compared to nearby aerated lakes. We also learned because it came from avian sources, the coliform contamination poses little risk to people who visit.

So in summer 2015, ACA began working with local community groups and landowners in the watershed to reduce nutrient loading to the lake, improve water quality, and ultimately re-establish the fishery.

With most of the riparian areas (70%) protected from livestock (thanks to on-the-ground work and landowner agreements under Parkland County’s Alternative Land Use Services program) and the remainder in good condition, ACA turned efforts toward improving in-lake water quality. The solution? Using aeration to enhance yearlong fish survival. In collaboration with several sponsors, ACA installed lake aeration infrastructure on Hasse Lake, with aeration beginning in October 2020.

While ACA developed aeration infrastructure, AEP conducted pilot stocking with 5,000 rainbow trout in spring 2020 (the first re-stocking of the lake since 2012!). Following was a supplemental fall stocking of another 5,000 fish, including rainbow and tiger trout.

Future plans include a big increase in fish stocked by AEP now that aeration is in place, fishery and water monitoring, and continuation of activities to improve lake quality. After all, Hasse Lake gave us a lot over the years. We’re here to return the favour. The fish are back, and people are well on their way.

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Project Contributors

  • Alberta Fish and Game Association (AFGA)
  • Belair Industries Corp.
  • Fortis
  • Northern Lights Fly Fishers - TUC Edmonton
  • North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance
  • Parkland County
  • Parkland County’s Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) Program
  • RPB Industries