Assessment of the Status of the Sport Fishery for Walleye at Baptiste Lake, 1997
Bill Patterson, M. G. Sullivan
To recover or maintain Alberta's walleye fisheries, a new walleye management strategy was implemented in 1996. In 1996, the walleye fishery at Baptiste Lake was classified as vulnerable and a 50 cm (total length) size limit in walleye was implemented in the sport fishery. In order to monitor the status of the walleye fishery at Baptiste Lake, a creel survey was conducted during May to August 1997. Since the last creel survey conducted in 1995, the estimated number of anglers had increased 25% to 10 686 anglers. Angler effort increased by 48%, to 37.7 angler-hours / ha. The harvest of walleye had decreased by 5% to 1 081 fish. The catch rate on legal-sized walleye (>50 cm total length) had decreased from 0.048 walleye kept / hour in 1995 to 0.029 walleye kept / hour in 1997. The catch rate on sub-legal walleye was estimated at 0.405 walleye caught / hour. The strength of these young year-classes is likely being maintained through the protection afforded by the 50 cm minimum size limit.
Based on the criteria used to classify walleye stocks in Alberta, the fishery at Baptiste Lake should retain the classification of “vulnerable”. The walleye population in Baptiste Lake is responding to this protective regulation. There is a high potential for recovery of this fishery if the protected year-classes survive in strong numbers to spawning age and produce recruits.