Assessment of the Status of the Sport Fishery for Walleye at Wolf Lake, 1999
To recover or maintain Alberta's walleye fisheries, Alberta Natural Resources Service implemented a new walleye management strategy in 1996. In 1996, the walleye fishery at Wolf Lake was classified as collapsed and a catch and release regulation (0 daily bag limit) for the walleye sport fishery was implemented. In order to assess the status of the walleye fishery at Wolf Lake, a creel survey was conducted during May to August 1999.
Historical information states that “Wolf Lake was possibly the best pickeral (walleye) lake in the north-eastern part of the province and by the mid-1970s the species appears to have been cleaned out by sport fishermen” (Chipeniuk, 1975).
During the late 1980’s and the early 1990’s, catch rates declined as angling pressure increased as the Wolf Lake walleye fishery collapsed. Angling pressure peaked in 1992 and has decreased 76% to 2.1 hrs / ha in 1999. In 1999, the number of anglers interviewed during the survey was 1,005. The total number of anglers was estimated at 2,476.
Protection of remnant mature walleye is critical to facilitating population recovery. Special attention needs to be given to the effort response of anglers to the improving densities of walleye and the related hooking mortality. Excessive release mortality could prevent any recovery of this fishery. The recovery and monitoring of Alberta’s most renowned walleye collapse ought to provide some interesting and useful information.