Assessment of the Summer Sport Fishery for Walleye and Northern Pike at Smoke Lake, Alberta, 2005
Owen Watkins and Bill Patterson
To ensure recovery and sustainability of Alberta's walleye and pike fisheries, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (ASRD) implemented new management strategies in 1996 and 1999 for walleye (Sander vitreus) and northern pike (Esox lucius). Based on criteria in the new walleye strategy, Smoke Lake was classified as having a stable walleye fishery. This classification resulted in several regulation modifications between 1996 and 2004. Currently (2004), anglers are permitted to harvest two walleye (daily possession limit) with a minimum size limit of 60 cm total length (TL). Similarly, from 1999 to 2005, the pike fishery was classified as a stable-recreational fishery and anglers were allowed to harvest three pike with a minimum size limit of 63 cm TL. To examine the impacts of these management strategies on the walleye and pike fisheries, the Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) conducted a creel survey on the lake during the summer of 2005. The Smoke Lake study is part of a three-year project to estimate angler effort and fish stock yields for walleye and pike on several lakes in Alberta.
Based on angler interviews conducted between 20 May and 21 August 2005, an estimated 1,358 anglers (95% CI = 1,181 - 1,562, n = 493) fished Smoke Lake for 2,842 h (95% CI = 2,428 - 3,301, n = 1,024.25) for an angling pressure of 2.96 h/ha (95% CI = 2.53 - 3.44). No walleye were observed harvested in the sport fishery during the survey. Anglers released an estimated 7,167 walleye (95% CI = 6,105 - 8,293, n = 2,636) for an estimated total yield (harvest + 4.6% incidental mortality) of 0.241 kg/ha (95% CI = 0.227 - 0.283).
Anglers harvested an estimated ten pike (95% CI = 5 - 16, n = 4), with a mean weight of 2.26 kg/fish. This translates to a yield of 0.022 kg/ha (95% CI = 0.010 - 0.041). Anglers reported a pike release rate of 0.196 fish/h and released an estimated 553 pike (95% CI = 449 - 669, n = 204), resulting in a total yield (harvest + incidental mortality) of 0.046 kg/ha (95% CI = 0.032 – 0.065).