Assessment of the Status of the Sport Fishery for Walleye at the North Saskatchewan River, 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 the North Saskatchewan River (NSR) was classified as vulnerable and a 50 cm (total length, TL) minimum size limit for the walleye sport fishery was implemented. In order to monitor the status of the walleye fishery at the NSR, a creel survey was conducted during May to September 1997, within the City of Edmonton, and downstream to Fort Saskatchewan. The estimated number of anglers was 12166. Anglers fished for an estimated 24979 hours. The harvest of walleye was estimated at 193 fish. The harvest rates on legal-sized walleye (>50 cm, TL) at the Sturgeon River - NSR confluence site was 0.014 fish / h and 0.001 fish / h at the Whitemud Creek - NSR site.
Based on the criteria used to classify walleye stocks in Alberta, the walleye population in the NSR was collapsed. The regulation recommended in Alberta’s walleye management strategy for a walleye fishery with a collapsed status is a catch and release regulation (0 daily bag limit). According to the survey results, this regulation would effect 1.4% of all anglers and better protect the population of walleye in the North Saskatchewan River.
Of the 11 species observed, the most commonly caught were goldeye. The species that was kept most often was pike. Goldeye and walleye were released most often. Based on Canadian Health and Welfare standards, once the walleye become larger than 340 mm (TL), they are unsafe for consumption, due to mercury contamination.