An Assessment of the Bull Trout Population in A La Peche Lake; 2002
Mike Blackburn, Craig Johnson
A La Peche Lake is located in the Muskeg River Drainage, southeast of Grande Cache, Alberta. Historically, bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) and rainbow trout (Oncorynchus mykiss) were found in this small, shallow lake, but no surveys have been conducted since 1979. In respoinse to upcoming resource extraction the Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) surveyed A La Peche Lake in 2002 to determine the current fish stock status. In 2002, few fish were captured; and the small size of these fish suggests that A La Peche Lake could not support a significant sport-fishery. The lack of adult bull trout indicates that the spawning population resides elsewhere in the watershed, likely in the uskeg River, and A La Peche Lake serves as juvenile rearing habitat for bull trout. Since no upstream migration barriers were found, fish were able to move between the lake and the river. Although summer habitats are suitable for trout survival, low dissolved oxygen levels in late-winter may limite trout production. Regardless, A La Peche Lake and its outlet stream to the Muskeg River provide important seasonal habitat for rainbow and bull trout. The significance of this seasonal rearing habitat to fish production in the Muskeg River is unknown. With human-use increasing in the watershed, the conservation of these habitats is likely important to sustaining fish stocks in the Muskeg River Watershed.