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Delayed Harvest Regulations

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Ronan's report


Tuesday 11th January, 2011

There has been a small but growing push in Alberta to develop quality fishing lakes, where the intent is for anglers to enjoy a fishery that can produce large fish rather than filling a creel with 9 inch stockers. The current management is based on the belief that anglers want to take home a pile of fish, and the government should supply those fish. I’m not sure if that is right or not, but I do know that many, many anglers want to catch big fish, keep them or not.

The current regulations do allow keeping of fish, but the population and pressure in Alberta means that the fish only manage to get to the harvestable size of 30 centimetres before the vast majority are harvested. Proposed changes to a few of the lakes in Alberta (only a few lakes in a hundred), will delay the harvest of fish until they reach 50 centimetres, and limit the harvest to 1 per angler.

The Kananaskis series of lakes in Alberta are currently managed with the catch limit set at 3 fish over 30 centimetres. With a population base of over 1 million people within an hour drive, the majority of fish over 30 centimetres are harvested. Recently the fisheries managers stopped stocking rainbow trout and started stocking native cutthroat. The cutthroat are being stocked at 20-30cm, just big enough to be harvested over the next season.

Most of the spawning trout caught in the tributaries were over 40 centimetres. By increasing the harvest size to a minimum of 50 centimetres and limiting the keep to 1 fish per angler, the goal is to improve the health of the population and increase the average size of trout caught.

There are many anglers in Alberta who want to keep their 3 fish limit each time they go out. There are anglers who think that the regulation changes will result in more crowding and garbage at the lakes. There are anglers who think that the government will cut funding, because as the fishery improves, they will have to spend less money, and therefore will take that money out of the budget.
I honestly don’t see any validity in these arguments, but I might be missing something in my excitement to fish for 20 inch cutthroats.

The Alberta government is resistant to change, especially change that might upset the “good old boys club” that provides the bulk of the conservative vote. If you support the changes and at any point in your life, might get to Alberta to fish, please put your name on the petition.

Thanks,
Harps


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