Upper Oldman River Drainage Angler Survey, 2004
Crystal Speigl and Brad. J. Hurkett
A roving angler survey was conducted from 16 June to 6 September 2004 in the Upper Oldman River (UOM) drainage on Dutch Creek, Racehorse Creek, Upper Oldman River and the Livingstone River. The survey was initiated to assess angling pressure, angling effort, catch rate and angler satisfaction. These data were compared with data collected from previous angling surveys in the UOM drainage between 1988 and 1992 to assist resource managers in monitoring the status of the cutthroat trout fishery.
A total of 2,941 anglers fished a total of 8,468 h in the UOM drainage and reported a combined catch of 9,560 cutthroat trout, 93 rainbow trout, 84 bull trout and 60 mountain whitefish. Of the 9,560 cutthroat, 2,531 (26%) were legal-size (i.e., total length ≥ 30 cm), two-thirds of these were captured in the Livingstone River. The catch-perunit- effort (CPUE) for cutthroat trout across the entire study area averaged 1.13 fish/h. There was no clear temporal pattern in CPUE. However, CPUE on the Livingstone River was higher in 2004 than in 1992, but the reverse pattern occurred on Dutch Creek over the same period.
In 2004, angling pressure was lowest on Dutch Creek and Racehorse Creek and highest on the Livingstone River. Overall, angling pressure was higher in 2004 than in previous surveys in 1988 and 1992. In addition, angling pressure shifted from the Upper Oldman River during the 1988 to 1992 surveys to the Livingstone River in 2004. The shift in popularity toward the Livingstone River was likely due to the increased size and number of cutthroat trout in this system, presumably related to the implementation of a catch-and-release regulation on the Livingstone River in 1995. In contrast to the Livingstone River, catch rates decreased on the Upper Oldman River and Dutch Creek from 1992 to 2004, and anglers captured fewer and smaller cutthroat trout in these rivers compared to the Livingstone River. Despite the overall increase in fishing pressure, the majority of anglers felt that the size and number of cutthroat trout caught in the drainage did not change between 1992 and 2004.
Of the 2,941 anglers interviewed during the study, the majority (95%) were residents of Alberta, 3% were from out of province and 2% were from the United States. Fly-fishing was the most common angling method and provided the greatest overall CPUE.