Summer Angler Surveys on Four Walleye-Pike Fisheries in Central Alberta, 2022
High angling effort on populations of slow-growing and late-maturing species has previously resulted in the over-harvest of many of Alberta’s sport fish populations, including walleye (Sander vitreus) and northern pike (Esox lucius). In 2018, Alberta Environment and Parks released updated management objectives for walleye and northern pike fisheries that included manipulations with different harvest regimes at 35 select lakes. To aid in evaluating these manipulations, ACA conducted angler surveys on four impacted fisheries (Lac Ste. Anne, Gull, Buck, and Pigeon lakes) during the summer angling seasons of 2020, 2021, and 2022. Here, we report on the 2022 survey only. A more comprehensive report on the larger study, including human dimensions surveys, will be completed by the Government of Alberta.
Between May 15 and August 31, 2022, we conducted instantaneous count angler surveys on the four lakes using boats, or from shore during unsafe weather conditions. Estimated total angler effort was 11,743.76 hours (2.08 h/ha) at Lac Ste. Anne, 24,821.73 hours (3.03 h/ha) at Gull Lake, 28,703.68 hours (11.30 h/ha) at Buck Lake, and 20,369.57 hours (2.09 h/ha) at Pigeon Lake. Trip lengths were very similar at all four lakes, which ranged between 3.14 and 3.57 h/trip.
We conducted a total of 310 angler interviews at Lac Ste. Anne, Pigeon Lake, Gull Lake, and Buck Lake. Anglers primarily caught walleye and northern pike. Mean catch rates across the four lakes were variable for walleye but were similar for pike: 1.02 walleye/h and 0.24 northern pike/h at Lac Ste. Anne; 3.68 walleye/h and 0.21 northern pike/h at Pigeon Lake; 1.70 walleye/h and 0.20 northern pike/h at Gull Lake; and 1.10 walleye/h and 0.29 northern pike/h at Buck Lake. Mean walleye harvest rates were 0.06 walleye/h at Gull Lake and 0.10 walleye/h at Buck Lake. We did not calculate walleye harvest at Lac Ste. Anne or Pigeon Lake as they are regulated by a specific number of tags. We did not estimate northern pike harvest as they are not legally harvestable at any of the four lakes.