Assessment of the Status of the Sport Fishery for Walleye at Pinehurst 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 Pinehurst Lake was classified as stable and a 43 cm (total length, TL) size limit in walleye was implemented in the sport fishery. In order to monitor the status of the walleye fishery at Pinehurst Lake, a creel survey was conducted during May to August 1997.
Prior to this survey, the last creel survey at Pinehurst Lake was conducted during May to August 1994. The angling effort from 1994 to 1997 decreased 41% to 6.8 hours / ha. The estimated number of anglers declined 46% since 1994 to 7930 in 1997. The harvest of walleye from 1994 to 1997 decreased 51% to 2807 walleye. The catch rate on legal-sized walleye (>43 cm TL) had decreased from 0.127 walleye kept / hour in 1994 to 0.089 walleye kept / hour in 1997. The catch rate on sub-legal walleye (<43 cm TL) was estimated (utilizing a test fishery) to be moderate, at 0.44 walleye caught / hour. Evidence of recruitment is moderate. The strength of these young year-classes is likely a response due to the 43 cm TL minimum size limit.
Based on the criteria used to classify walleye stocks in Alberta, the fishery at Pinehurst Lake should be reclassified from “stable” to “vulnerable”. The walleye population in Pinehurst Lake is responding to increased protection. 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. The regulation recommended in Alberta’s walleye management strategy for a walleye fishery with a “vulnerable” status is a 50 cm TL minimum size and a 3 fish daily bag limit. This regulation update would reduce harvest by 72% but only affect 16% of all anglers.