Northern Pike and Walleye Summer Sport Fishery at Haig Lake, Alberta, 2011
Michael Buskas and Clayton James
High fishing pressure, coupled with slow-growing and late-maturing populations, have resulted in the over-harvest of many of Alberta’s sport fish populations, especially northern pike (Esox lucius) and walleye (Sander vitreus). To generate the information required for the management of these species on Haig Lake, we conducted a creel survey during the summer of 2011 (1 June to 31 August). We used a reduced-effort creel survey to collect data on angling effort, catch rates, harvest and release rates, population structure and other related sport fishery demographics.
Based on 307 angler interviews, angler effort at Haig Lake was 2.8 h/ha (95%CI = 2.3– 3.4). Total estimated yield of northern pike was 199.2 kg (95%CI = 155.3–252.8), or 0.2 kg/ha (95%CI = 0.2–0.3). The northern pike population had a length distribution ranging from 289 to 913 mm total length (TL) (n = 233), with the majority of fish ranging from 400 to 650 mm TL. The mean lengths (±SE) for sport-harvest and test-angled fish were 639 ± 29 mm TL (n = 15) and 528 ± 6 mm TL (n = 218), respectively. Overall age ranged from 1 to 12 y, with the population consisting largely of 2 to 6 y fish. Mean ages (±SE) were 8 ± 1 y (n = 8) and 4 ± 0.1 y (n = 214) for sport-harvest and test-angled fish, respectively. Growth estimates indicate it would take approximately 5 to 6 years for northern pike in Haig Lake to reach the 550 mm TL harvestable size and 7 to 8 years to reach the 630 mm TL Alberta Northern Pike Management and Recovery Plan standard size.
The total estimated yield of walleye was 318.1 kg (95%CI = 257.2–386.1), or 0.3 kg/ha (95%CI = 0.3–0.4). The walleye population length distribution ranged from 265 to 618 mm TL (n = 262), with the majority of fish between 350 to 600 mm TL. The mean length (±SE) was 540 ± 5 (n = 46) for sport-harvest fish and 464 ± 5 (n = 216) for test-angled fish. Overall age ranged from 2 to 18 y, with the population consisting largely of 4 to 9 y fish. The mean age (±SE) was 11 ± 1 y (n = 46) and 7 ± 0.2 y (n = 213) for sport-harvest and testangled fish, respectively. Growth estimates indicate it would take approximately 7 to 8 years for walleye in Haig Lake to reach the 500 mm TL harvestable size.