Management Messages

Message from the Minister

Almost everyone can remember their first fishing trip, who they were with, the feeling of that first tug on the line, the size of the fish they caught, or the one that got away. We are blessed in Alberta to live in one of the most majestic places on the planet with a diverse landscape and a wealth of natural resources – including the rivers, lakes and ponds that sustain our province’s fisheries. Fishing is a part of Alberta’s cultural fabric and we need to work together to make our fisheries strong, healthy, vibrant and sustainable for generations to come.

In addition to being the Minister of Environment and Parks, I am an avid angler and outdoorsman who respects the environment and the abundance of natural beauty in our great province. I have had numerous discussions and meetings with people passionate about fisheries as I believe all Albertans have a role to play as we move toward a future where the sustainability of our fisheries is the long-term goal. I hope you took time to participate in the series of public open houses or shared your opinion about fishing on the TalkAEP website earlier this year. These engagement opportunities were our commitment to you to be transparent and open, have meaningful face-to-face engagement with Albertans, and to hear your thoughts on fishing and fisheries management. Please know that staff worked very hard to engage with you and capture your input, and their work will be instrumental as we implement these changes and future opportunities. Know that we aren’t done hearing from you as your feedback and input will be instrumental in implementing additional changes in the future.

You will see a lot of the feedback you provided reflected in this 2020 sportfishing guide. Restoring and revitalizing fisheries and enabling a new direction will take time. We have also invested in Alberta hatcheries infrastructure which will become an important basis to our ambitious stocking program in Alberta waterbodies. Additionally we are also investing in conservation, as habitat restoration is a critical component of fisheries management. The Alberta government, anglers, Indigenous communities and conservation groups all need to work together to support and enhance fishing in our province. We have a shared obligation to remain vigilant to conserve and enhance fish populations in our waters. These changes you see here will begin to build the foundation of what we hope will be positive changes to how we manage our fisheries.

Whether you fly fish the Bow, fish for monster pike in Winefred Lake, fish at your local lake or stocked trout pond, or drop a wire worm through the ice looking for that elusive whitefish, the health and sustainability of these fisheries is important to all Albertans. With your support and vital input we will continue to implement recommendations to improve the quality of your fishing experiences and build memories of a lifetime.

Thank you for all that you do to conserve our province’s fisheries, and I hope to see you out on the water this year!

Sincerely,
Jason Nixon
Minister of Environment and Parks    


Alberta's Fisheries Management System

Alberta follows the Alberta’s Fish Conservation and Management Strategy. Alberta’s goal of the long-term sustainability of fisheries is central to this commitment. The components of Alberta’s Fisheries Management System are Assessment, Status, Management Objectives, Engagement and Regulations.

For more information on Alberta’s Fish Conservation and Management Strategy, please go to Alberta’s Fisheries Management website and click the link.


Important Changes and Notices 2020

This section provides general information. Regulations are listed in each Watershed Unit in the Management Zones.

Stakeholder Engagement
Thank you for participating in Alberta Environment and Parks’ open house events and online surveys on the TalkAEP website this past January and providing your input on fisheries, fisheries management and enhancing recreational fishing opportunities across Alberta. Your feedback is reflected in the 2020 Sportfishing Regulations. We are also using your feedback to identify topics for further engagement. Please find follow-up information on the TalkAEP and Alberta Fisheries Management websites about what was heard during these engagements and future opportunities to provide your input. We look forward to continuing the conversations!

Harvest Opportunities
An outcome of the recent engagement activities is an increase in recreational fishing opportunities, including increased harvest opportunities. These opportunities include trout species, walleye, northern pike and yellow perch. Regulation updates are highlighted blue in the regulation tables.

Stocking and Transfers
Alberta Environment and Parks is planning to stock walleye and transfer northern pike and yellow perch to increase fishing opportunities. Fish transfers will focus on re-stocking waters that have experienced fish kills or have recovered from drought conditions. Please know measures will be in place that prevent disease transfer. These programs are planned to begin this spring. Please be aware that these efforts will not likely result in immediate fishing opportunities. Updates on fish stocking and transfer activities will be provided during the year. Tiger trout are listed as a sport fish in Alberta.

Tiger trout stockings have also been expanded to more lakes; please review the site-specific regulations and Alberta’s Stocking Report on MyWildAlberta website.

Anglers are reminded that opportunities to harvest non-trout fish species from put-and-take stocked trout ponds have been restored. For specific information read about Alberta’s Fish Stocking Program.

Sportfishing Guide
For easier reading, the regulations for each Watershed Unit have been further simplified. These include replacing the ● symbol with text. This clarifies the regulations at listed lakes and streams and further simplifies the tables.

Waterbodies,
with regulation updates highlighted blue.
that are closed all year highlighted grey.

Download and Save the Guide
This sportfishing guide can be downloaded from www.albertaregulations.ca website. Touch the PDF symbol below the cover of the sportfishing regulations to open, then download and save the sportfishing regulations for your favourite watersheds (examples ES1, NB3, PP2) OR download and save the complete document.

Licensing
New for the 2020 season download the AlbertaRelm App and easily store your Sportfishing licence electronically. Please remember that the onus remains on the angler to produce their licence (paper or electronic) when requested by an officer in the field. Also, watch for new conveniences such as the ability to sign up to auto-renew your sportfishing licence and the launch of the virtual WiN card. See AlbertaRelm.com for additional details.

Ice Fishing
Identify all ice fishing shacks with your WiN number OR Name, Address and Phone number.

Remove all ice fishing huts when ice is still safe to do so, prior to spring breakup.

Angling through ice is not permitted into beaver ponds or flowing waters in ES1 to ES4 management zones except the portion of the Lobstick River lying in 53, 54-9, 10-W5. This is a reminder that ice fishing can be dangerous and for more information see “Use Caution on Ice”.

Mainstem of Rivers
The definition of a river mainstem has been clarified; please see definitions.

Aquatic Health
The impacts posed by aquatic pest species, including fish diseases, continue to pose a serious risk to Alberta’s fisheries and can extend well beyond reducing recreational fishing opportunities. We all play an important role in keeping Alberta’s waters healthy. Invasive fish like goldfish and Prussian carp have been illegally released into various waters in Alberta and have established breeding populations. They pose serious threats to native species and their habitats.

● It is prohibited to possess any of the 52 aquatic prohibited species listed in the Fisheries (Alberta) Act. This list includes fish, plants and invertebrates, like mussels and snails. Fines of up to $100,000 can be applied for moving, possessing or importing invasive species, listed or prescribed.

In addition to invasive species, whirling disease, a parasite that infects salmonids, is now found in the Bow, Oldman, Red Deer and North Saskatchewan watersheds. Whirling disease can spread naturally, but also through the movement of spores on gear, water, infected fish and fish parts. Avoid using felt soled waders or live fish as bait, and dispose fish parts in the garbage to prevent further spread.

Alberta is committed to minimizing the impacts of all aquatic invasive species, as they can be spread between waterbodies through the movement of water and mud. Prevention is our best response effort, followed by containment if an invasive species is detected.

Everyone can help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species by following CLEAN, DRAIN, and DRY YOUR GEAR actions after each use to ensure no water, mud, fish or fish parts are moved from one waterbody to the next. This applies within Alberta and beyond our borders.

It is mandatory for anyone transporting a watercraft to stop at open watercraft inspection stations and cooperate with officials. This includes motorized, non-motorized and commercially hauled watercraft. The fine for bypassing an open inspection station is $310.

For more information, call the 24/7 hotline 1-855-336-BOAT (2628) or visit www.alberta.ca and search “Aquatic Invasive Species” or “Whirling Disease” to learn more. Always remember to:

PULL THE PLUG! All watercrafts must have the drain plug pulled while in transport within Alberta. The fine for not pulling the plug is $172.
DON’T LET IT LOOSE Never release aquarium or domestic pond water, plants, dead or live fish or any other animals into waterbodies.


Do You Have a Suggestion or Comment?

Alberta Environment and Parks conducts public reviews of various recommendations made by anglers, sportfishing organizations and staff. You are encouraged to send any comments to the address below. Your letter or e-mail will be sent to the appropriate fisheries personnel and advisory committee for review.

Please forward regulation suggestions to:

Fish and Wildlife Policy Branch
Alberta Environment and Parks
Great West Life Building
9920 108 Street
Edmonton, Alberta
T5K 2M4
Email: aep.info-centre@gov.ab.ca