Ram River Bull Trout Assessment

Bull trout is a native sport fish species classed as Threatened in Alberta and is particularly sensitive to habitat change. A government-led initiative, the Native Trout Recovery Program, was implemented in 2017 to recover native trout throughout the Eastern Slopes of Alberta. The program involves implementation of recovery actions (e.g., trail remediation/closure, implementing industry best-management practices, suppression of non-native species) in an adaptive management framework. Success of this program will be measured using AEP’s Fish Sustainability Index (FSI). The FSI is a standardized process of assessment that provides a landscape-level overview of fish sustainability within the province and enables broad-scale evaluation of management actions and land-use planning. In the summer and fall of 2021, we used a combination of backpack electrofishing and redd surveys to assess the bull trout population in the lower Ram River watershed. Our sample frame for backpack electrofishing included 12 selected sites, where we detected fish at five of the 12 sites, catching five different species. We captured 14 bull trout electrofishing, all at a single site. Fall Creek remains an important spawning tributary in the Ram River watershed. We counted 42 bull trout redds on a survey of a 3.5 km reach of Fall Creek. We continued to use our solar-powered underwater video recording system to count adult bull trout exiting the Fall Creek spawning area. We obtained over 40 days of footage during the bull trout spawning migration and counted 54 bull trout moving downstream past the camera; this equated to 1.3spawners per redd, an index that can be used to estimate bull trout abundance in future redd surveys. Our study provides managers with information on fish species distribution and abundance that can be used to evaluate land-use impacts on fish and bull trout response to recovery actions.


Alberta Environment and Parks, Fisheries and Oceans Canada – through the Canada Nature Fund, Sundre Forest Products – A Division of West Fraser Mills Ltd.

Annual Summaries

Title Year Category
Ram River Bull Trout Assessment 2018-2019 1
Ram River Bull Trout Assessment 2019-2020 1
Ram River Bull Trout Assessment 2020-2021 1
Ram River Bull Trout Assessment 2021-2022 1