Angler Survey on the Wapiti River, Alberta, 2018
The Wapiti River, located adjacent to the city of Grande Prairie, Alberta, is known to experience high recreational use. As a multi-use waterbody, the current level of fishing pressure specifically has been unknown. From June 1 to September 30, 2018, we conducted an angler survey to fill in the knowledge gap that will aid Alberta Environment and Parks in managing the fishery.
During the survey, we used angler interviews to capture fish catch, trip information, and angler demographics. Aerial surveys were used to estimate angler effort. We used bootstrapping to derive estimates and confidence intervals for creel parameters.
We interviewed 80 anglers with 66% reporting Grande Prairie as their permanent residence. During instantaneous counts we observed 45 anglers fishing from both boats (53%) and shore (47%). For the 159 river km of the Wapiti River surveyed, we estimated anglers made 3,000 trips (95% CI = 1,678-4,560) and fished for 4,085 hours (95% CI = 2,309-6,082). We estimated anglers caught 2,730 fish (95% CI = 1,262-4,750) comprised of 2,195 walleye (95% CI = 926–3,997), 271 northern pike (95% CI = 30–662), 251 bull trout (95% CI = 40–571), and 13 goldeye (95% CI = 1–46). No anglers reported catching Arctic grayling or mountain whitefish, although they are present in the Wapiti River system. We estimate anglers harvested 207 walleye (95% CI = 74-399). No other species were reported as harvested.
While general observations indicate that the Wapiti River experiences high recreational use, our results indicate low angling effort compared to other waterbodies in Alberta. However, given the low angling effort and catch data recorded during our study period, the resulting estimates should be interpreted with caution.