Summer Sport Fishery on the Peace River, 2013
Melissa Buskas and William Patterson
The portion of the Peace River located in northwest Alberta is categorized as a cool‐water fishery that supports sport fish species such as walleye (Sander vitreus), northern pike (Esox lucius), goldeye (Hiodon alosoides) and burbot (Lota lota), with angling typically concentrated at the mouths of tributaries flowing into the mainstem. However, little is known about recreational angling pressure along this portion of the river. In this project, we conducted a creel survey along a section of the river around the town of Peace River to generate data on angler effort and catch rates that would aid Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development to review current sport fishing regulations and other management practices. From June 3 to September 25, 2013, we interviewed anglers at two locations: 1) in the town of Peace River (Heart River/Pat’s Creek confluences) and 2) at the Whitemud River confluence. To determine a ratio‐of‐use along the survey section, angler counts were conducted by boat. At the Heart River/Pat’s Creek survey site, we surveyed 17% of the available strata and interviewed 103 anglers that fished for 211.5 h. Anglers reported catching 0.09 walleye/h, 0.02 northern pike/h, 0.04 goldeye/h and 0.10 burbot/h, with an estimated angling effort of 1,167 h (95% CI = 923 – 1,422). At the Whitemud River survey site, we surveyed 17% of the available strata and interviewed 56 anglers that fished for 114.25 h. Anglers reported catching 0.67 walleye/h, 0.08 northern pike/h, 0.02 goldeye/h and 0.07 burbot/h, with an estimated angling effort of 697 h (95% CI = 406 – 993).
Based on 16 ratio‐of‐use surveys, 53% (95% CI = 42 – 64, n = 72) of anglers on the Peace River between the confluences of the Smoky and Cadotte rivers fished at one of the two survey sites; the remaining 47% fished at alternate sites. Along the survey area, the total angling effort was 3,575 h (95% CI = 2,602 – 4,821), with an angling pressure of 1.0 h/ha (95% CI = 0.8 – 1.4). Anglers harvested 284 walleye (95% CI = 78 – 520) for a total yield (harvest + release mortality) of 301.8 kg (95% CI = 108.1 – 525.2) or 0.08 kg/ha (95% CI = 0.03 – 0.15). Length distribution of sport‐harvested walleye ranged from 438 to 496 mm total length (TL), with a mean (± SE) length of 469 ± 3 mm TL (n = 17). The length distribution of test‐angled walleye ranged from 320 to 576 mm TL, with a mean length of 433 ± 6 mm TL (n = 67). The age distribution of sport‐harvested walleye ranged from 5 to 19 y, with a mean age of 10 ± 1 y (n = 17). The age distribution of test‐angled walleye ranged from 3 to 21 y, with a mean age of 7 ± 1 y (n = 54). Samples of northern pike, goldeye and burbot were too small to analyze.