Angler Survey in the Berland River Watershed, Alberta, 2019


Brad Hurkett, Kevin Fitzsimmons, and Nikita Lebedynski


The Native Trout Recovery Initiative (NTRI) is a government-based program that promotes the recovery of declining native trout and whitefish populations along the eastern slopes of northcentral Alberta. The Berland River watershed is a focal system in the NTRI, as recent fisheries sustainability index analysis indicates that native trout and whitefish populations in the system are at a high- to very high-risk state compared to provincial standards. Given the Berland River is open to public recreational fishing, angling pressure is a potential threat that could affect fish populations, yet very little recent data exist. To address this need and support the NTRI, Alberta Conservation Association conducted an aerial-type angler survey on the Berland River during the summer of 2019 to estimate angling effort.

We conducted instantaneous aerial angler counts on the Berland River between June 1 and September 15, 2019. We selected survey dates and times using Pollock et al. (1994) two-stage sampling design, stratified by day type (weekend/holiday or weekday), and flight times (3-h time blocks: 0900, 1200, 1500, 1800 hours). We flew 23 surveys and observed 28 anglers during the study period; we did not observe anglers during 14 (61%) flights, 10 of which occurred in June and July during unseasonably high stream flows. We used bootstrapping to derive estimates and associated 95% confidence intervals for angling effort from aerial angler counts.

Between June 1 and September 15, 2019, we estimated anglers fished an estimated total of 1,595 hours (95% CI = 773 – 2,541) or 7.45 h/km (95% CI = 3.6 – 11.9) on the 214 km surveyed on the Berland River. Most of the angling effort, 1,158 hours (95% CI = 532 – 1,789) or 5.41 h/km (95% CI = 0 – 8.36), occurred on weekend/holiday days; weekday angling effort was estimated at 437 hours (95% CI = 0 – 1,092) or 2.04 h/km (95% CI = 0 – 5.10).

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