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Sportfish of Alberta

Lake Sturgeon
Lake Sturgeon have a large brown or grey body covered with tough, leather-like tissue and five rows of bony plates. They have a shark-like, upturned tail and a pointed snout with four barbels.
Lake Whitefish
Lake Whitefish are olive-green to blue on the back, with silvery sides. They have a small mouth below a rounded snout, and a deeply forked tail.
Mountain Whitefish
Mountain Whitefish have large scales, no spots and small mouths with no teeth. Their general body colour is a bronze-white or greenish white.
Northern Pike
Northern Pike are a long, slender fish with duck-like jaws and a long, flat head. The back and sides are predominantly dark green to olive green, with yellow to white spots.
Yellow Perch
Yellow Perch are golden yellow or green, with broad,
dark vertical bands on their sides. They also have
needle-like spines on the dorsal fin.
Walleye have two distinct fins on their back, the first with large spines. They have a yellow-olive back, brassy, silvery sides with yellow spots, a white underside, and white on the lower lobe of the tail. Dusky vertical bars are often found on the body as well.
Sauger are golden olive on the back with silver-yellow sides and a white underside. They also have a large spiny dorsal fin, distinct rows of spots on the dorsal fins and three or four dusky vertical bars on the body.

Burbot have a slim, brownish black body with smooth skin, a flattened head, and a fin that stretches along the back half of the body. Distinctive barbels hang from the lower jaw and nostrils.

Goldeye have prominent eyes with bright yellow pupils, a blunt head, and a deep, compressed body. Their colour ranges from dark blue to blue-green on its back, with silvery or white sides.

Arctic Grayling
Arctic grayling can be identified by their colourful and very large dorsal fin and by their large scales with brown or black spots on the body behind the head.
Rainbow Trout
Rainbow Trout are olive-green in color with heavy black spotting over the body. Adult fish have a red-coloured stripe along the lateral line, from the gills to the tail.

Brown Trout
Brown trout are golden brown in colour with large black spots on the back, and red spots (some with pale haloes) on the sides. They are the only trout with both red and black spotting.

Golden Trout
Golden trout are the most colourful of trout, with an olive-green back and bright red-to-gold sides and belly.

Tiger Trout
The tiger trout is a sterile hybrid from crossing brown trout eggs and brook trout milt. Tiger trout can be light to dark in colour and have pronounced vermiculations like the stripes of a tiger.

Brook Trout
Brook trout are among the most colourful trout. The back is dark green with pale wavy lines, while the sides have a purple sheen with blue-haloed red spots.

Bull Trout
Bull trout are slim fish with a large head. Their back is olive-green to grey while their sides are silvery and marked with pale yellow to red spots. There are no black spots on the dorsal fin.

Cutthroat Trout
Cutthroat trout are named for the bright red-orange streak in the fold under the mouth. They also have small scales and black spots without haloes on the sides.

Lake Trout
Lake Trout are a grey fish with irregular white spots and a forked caudal fin.

Trout Identification

The following illustrates important characteristics for identifying common trout species. Alberta’s Fish Identification web site is found at

Trout (true trout and char) - rayless fleshy lope on back
behind dorsal fin (adipose fin) and small scales on body

Brown Trout
- pale haloes around black spots

Cuthroat Trout
- no haloes around black
spots and a red-orange
slash under the jaw

Rainbow Trout*
- no haloes around black
spots and no red-orange
slash under the jaw


Bull Trout
- no spots or markings
on dorsal fin

Lake Trout

- pale spots on dorsal fin
and tail deeply forked

Brook Trout

- black markings on dorsal fin
and tail not deeply forked


The REPORT A POACHER program provides Albertans with the opportunity to report suspected violations using a toll-free number:
1-800-642-3800 or #3800 on the TELUS Mobility network (courtesy TELUS Mobility). The line is in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Fishing or hunting out of season, night hunting, exceeding bag limits, illegal sale of fish and wildlife and deposit of harmful substances in lakes and rivers are violations that seriously affect fish and wildlife in Alberta. If you see or know of a violation, you should record all information, including
● date
● time
● location
● vehicle licence number
● vehicle description
● description of person(s) involved
● details of violation, and any other details, no matter how insignificant they may seem. You should then contact the nearest Fish and Wildlife Division office or call 1-800-642-3800 as soon as possible.

If the information provided concerns a resource violation and results in the laying of a charge, the reporter may be eligible for a reward. If you have any questions about this program, please contact the nearest Fish and Wildlife office.

Notice to Anglers

To assist with the management of Alberta's fish resources and to ensure compliance with regulations, anglers will be checked at water bodies, recreational areas and road checkpoints throughout Alberta.

Recovery of Tagged Fish

If you catch a tagged fish, please advise the nearest Fish and Wildlife office of the following:
● tag number and colour
● species of fish caught
● date fish was caught
● where fish was caught
● if the fish was released
● total length and weight of the fish, if available
● your name, address and phone number

Use Caution on Ice

The following guidelines do not override your obligation to use caution and common sense when travelling on ice:
Careful measurement of ice thickness is important – always test ice conditions. Never walk on ice that is less than 10 cm (4 in.) thick and do not drive on ice that is less than 30 cm (12 in.) thick. Beware of ice near the inlet and outlet of streams. Always be extra cautious of ice on rivers and streams. Ice can vary in thickness and in strength from area to area because of temperature, water current, springs, snow cover and time of year. Do not drive fast, or follow closely behind or park near another vehicle on the ice. Ask someone who knows the area about ice conditions and places to avoid. Use caution and stay back from aeration sites. Anglers are encouraged not to fish near aerators for their safety and to prevent lines tangling the units and damaging them. Please remove all ice fishing huts prior to spring breakup.

Tips on Releasing Fish

If a fish is handled carefully and gently, it will have an excellent chance of survival. The most important factor related to fish mortality is damage caused by the hook penetrating the gills, throat and stomach regions. Fish hooked on the outside of the mouth, in the lip or mouth have a better chance of survival. Avoiding methods that result in being deeply hooked is the best way to reduce hooking mortality. “Still fishing” with bait, where the line is not actively attended, will result in more deeply hooked fish. Attending the line to set the hook immediately at the time of the strike may reduce the occurrence of deeply hooked fish. Percids (walleye and yellow perch ) have a reduced chance of survival if they are caught in deep water (>7 m or 23 feet).

● Retrieve your catch quickly.
● Release fish immediately (with care).
● Avoid squeezing the fish.
● Keep your fingers out of the gills.
● Keep the fish in the water.
● Remove the hook carefully.
● Leave deeply swallowed hooks in the fish.
(Side-cutters can be used to cut the hook instead of the line).
● Help revive the fish by holding it in the water.
● Do not fizz – it reduces survival.
● Fish for walleye and perch in relatively shallow water.

For more information, obtain a copy of the pamphlet “Handle and Release Fish with Care” from your nearest Fish and Wildlife office.

Be BearSmart While Angling

Bear encounters can happen any time, but anglers should be extra alert.

Streams, rivers and lakeshores make convenient travel corridors for wildlife, and the sound of moving water can mask the noise that normally warns animals of your approach.

To learn more about Alberta bears and how to be BearSmart, visit