Assessment of the Summer Sport Fishery for Walleye and Northern Pike at Beaver Lake, Alberta, 2005
Owen Watkins and Bill Patterson
To maintain and recover Alberta's walleye and pike fisheries, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (ASRD) developed and implemented new management strategies in 1996 for walleye (Sander vitreus) and in 1999 for northern pike (Esox lucius). Under the new walleye strategy, Beaver Lake was classified as having a vulnerable walleye fishery. This classification resulted in regulations enforced between 1996 - 2001 that permitted anglers to harvest three walleye (daily possession limit) with a minimum size limit of 50 cm total length (TL). From 2002 to 2005, the regulation for walleye was modified and the daily possession limit was reduced to one walleye with a minimum size limit of 50 cm TL. During the years previous to 1999, northern pike regulations allowed anglers to harvest ten northern pike of any size at Beaver Lake. From 1999 to 2000, the Beaver Lake pike sport fishery was classified as stable and the regulation was a daily harvest of three northern pike over 63 cm in TL. From 2001 to 2005, the regulation was modified and anglers were allowed to harvest one pike (daily possession limit) with a minimum size limit of 63 cm TL.
Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) conducted a creel survey on Beaver Lake in 2005 to support decisions by the provincial government related to the management of walleye and northern pike sport fisheries.
Based on angler interviews conducted between 22 May and 16 August 2005, an estimated 4,882 anglers (95% CI = 3,753 - 6,264, n = 903) fished Beaver Lake for 15,516 h (95% CI = 11,535 - 20,080, n = 3,097), resulting in an angling pressure of 4.69 angler-h/ha; (95% CI = 3.48 - 6.07). Estimated sport harvest of walleye was 797 fish (95% CI = 410 – 1,520, n = 106), with an estimated mean weight of 1.166 kg/fish (95% CI = 1.111 - 1.219, n = 51). The sport harvest yield was 0.281 kg/ha (95% CI = 0.144 - 0.539). Anglers released 13,884 walleye (95% CI = 9,531 - 19,585, n = 1,465). The mean weight of released walleye was 0.799 kg/fish (95% CI = 0.595 - 0.995, n = 17). The total yield of walleye (harvest + incidental mortality) was estimated to be 0.458 kg/ha (95% CI = 0.382 - 0.726).
Anglers harvested an estimated 589 northern pike (95% CI = 274 - 1,259, n = 65), with a mean weight of 2.027 kg/fish (95% CI = 1.755 - 2.413, n = 31). The sport harvest yield was 0.360 kg/ha (95% CI = 0.165 - 0.783). Anglers released 8,541 northern pike (95% CI = 5,980 - 11,686, n = 1,481). The estimated mean weight of released northern pike was 1.541 kg/fish (95% CI = 1.253 - 1.868, n = 17). The estimated total yield (harvest + incidental mortality) of northern pike was 0.571 kg/ha (95% CI = 0.461 - 0.988).