Status of Walleye and Northern Pike Sport Fisheries at Round Lake, Alberta, 2004
Greg Fortier and John Tchir
Improved access to lakes in the Red Earth area in northern Alberta has raised concerns about impacts of potential increases in angling pressure on sport fish populations of lakes in the region. However, little quantitative data exist on angling pressure and sport fish harvest on most of these lakes, including Round Lake. A creel survey was conducted on Round Lake to generate quantitative data on angler use and catch rates, as well as population structure and growth, for two species, walleye (Sander vitreus) and northern pike (Esox lucius). The information collected in this survey can be used to assess the impacts of increased fishing pressure after improvements in access.
An estimated 300 (95% CI = 190 - 480) anglers fished at Round Lake from 21 May to 25 August 2004, resulting in an angling pressure of 2.30 angler-h/ha (95% CI = 1.47 - 3.38). The overall catch rate (expressed as total-catch-per-unit-effort) of walleye was 0.68 fish/h and the total harvest-per-unit-effort (THUE) was 0.053 fish/h. The total estimated walleye harvest was 0.149 kg/ha (95% CI = 0.073 - 0.252 kg/ha). In contrast, the overall catch rate of northern pike was 1.02 fish/h, with a THUE of 0.037 fish/h. The total estimated harvest of northern pike was 0.136 kg/ha (95% CI = 0.082 - 0.229 kg/ha).
Length of walleye harvested by anglers ranged from 500 to 565 mm with a mean (± SD) of 524.1 ± 19.41 mm (n = 9) and ages ranged from 8 to 15 y with a mean of 11.8 ± 2.25 y (n = 8). Length of walleye caught by test anglers ranged from 215 to 562 mm with a mean of 420.0 ± 61.98 mm (n = 138) and ages ranged from 2 to 20 y with a mean of 7.6 ± 2.76 y (n = 131).
Length of northern pike harvested by anglers ranged from 654 to 990 mm with a mean of 757.8 ± 122.5 mm (n = 6) and ages ranged from 7 to 14 y with a mean of 10.9 ± 2.42 y (n = 9). Length of pike caught by test anglers ranged from 293 to 779 mm with a mean of 539.5 ± 88.82 mm (n = 87) and ages ranged from 2 to 12 y with a mean of 5.2 ± 1.75 y (n = 72).
Based on von Bertalanffy growth estimates, walleye in Round Lake should reach harvestable size (> 50 cm TL) in 11.4 years. Northern pike should reach their harvestable size (> 63 cm TL) in 8.3 years.
Results of our study will aid fisheries managers in formulating management guidelines for walleye and northern pike sport fisheries for priority lakes in the Red Earth area. Although our estimated angling pressures at Round Lake may be considered low, improved access and upgrading of facilities at the lake may result in increased fishing pressure in the future. Our data will serve as the baseline for assessing future impacts.