A fishing license lets you travel, but know the local regs

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

(Editor’s note: unattributed information is from albertaregulations.ca)

In Slave Lake and area, angling is a popular hobby. Alberta fishing licenses are valid across Alberta except for National Parks, but the number of fish a person can catch depends on the time of year and location. Also, when fishing in most streams, lures but not bait can be used.

The ‘2020 Alberta Guide to Sportsfishing Regulations’ have the specific limits for bodies of water.

Across Alberta arctic grayling must be released. However, other fish vary by lake or stream. The general Northern Boreal 2 (NB2) walleye limit is three over 50 cm, unless otherwise stated. However, various lakes in NB2 have walleye fishing limits of zero. These are Lac La Nonne and Fawcett (or special license tags), Mitsue, Narrow, Jenkins, and Paul lakes.

Fishing in the Lesser Slave Lake and back lakes is either NB2 or NB3.

NB2 includes Lesser Slave Lake and Kimiwan Lake and south to just north of Lac Ste. Anne Lake. This also has a section which goes up north of Peavine Métis Settlement with Seal Lake the northern most named lake on the map. Kimiwan Lake, north of McLennan is the westernmost.

NB3 starts south of Utikuma Lake and North and South Wabasca Lake and extends to the British Columbia border and the North West Territories border, excluding Wood Buffalo National Park and the Fort McMurray area.

Albertaregulations.ca says the general season for lakes in NB2 is May 15 to March 31, with streams open from June 1 to October 31. Most streams have bait bans.

“Bait ban means only unscented lures may be used,” says the ‘2020 Alberta Guide to Sportsfishing Regulations.’

The regulations define bait as “an attractant or organism (alive or dead) with scent or flavour to attract fish when attached to a hook or line used in angling.”

This is different from a lure which the guide defines as “a spoon, plug, jig, fly or other device made of feathers, fibre, wood, metal, plastic or similar materials that does not attract fish by scent or flavour.”

Not all streams have bait bans, says albertaregulations.ca. In NB2, bait is allowed in the West and East Prairie Rivers and Strawberry Creek (west of Kinuso).

Bait is also allowed in portions of Travers Creek and the following rivers: Lesser Slave (three sections near the weir), Athabasca, Pembina, and South Heart. The stream season starts either June 1 or June 16 and ends October 31.

Lesser Slave Lake
The general season for lakes is May 15 to March 31, but the west portion of Lesser Slave Lake is only open from June 16 to March 1.

Lesser Slave is divided into two sections with two seasons each, says albertaregulations.ca. The “portion west of a line drawn from Shaws Point to the point of land known as Little Grassy Point, including Buffalo Bay and the Grouard Channel and their tributaries (except East Prairie River, South Heart River and Traverse Creek)” is open from June 16 to October 31 with one limit and November 1 to March 1 with a different limit. However, the only change is walleye. From June 16 to October 31 the walleye limit is one over 43 cm. From Nov. 1 to Mar. 1, it is two of the same size.

Northern pike (three over 55 cm); yellow perch (15); lake whitefish (10), and burbot (10) are the limits in this and the other portion of the lake during any open season.

The “remainder of the lake and outlet (Lesser Slave River) downstream to the weir below Hwy. 88” is open from May 15 to Oct. 31 (one walleye over 43 cm) and Nov. 1 to Mar. 31 (two of the same size).

Lesser Slave River
There are also two other sections of Lesser Slave River which have bait fishing.

Lesser Slave River’s season is June 1 to October 31.

Albertaregulations.ca says bait is allowed in “the tributary and backwater downstream of the bridge that is east of the weir on the Old Smith Highway, (and) the portion of river downstream of the weir below Highway 88.”

The limit for these two sections is one walleye over 43 cm and two northern pike over 63 cm. All other fish are unlikely, but the general limit applies if caught.

Strawberry Creek has a shorter season, but higher limit. This stream is open from June 16 to Oct. 31. The walleye limit is the same, but the limit for northern pike is three over 55 cm. People can also keep yellow perch (15), lake whitefish (10), and burbot (10).

Trout & general limits
A few lakes in the area are stocked for trout and open year round. These include Lily Lake (in Lesser Slave Provincial Park). This is at the end of Lily Lake trail.

The NB2 general limits are arctic grayling (zero); walleye (three over 50 cm); northern pike (three over 63 cm); yellow perch (15); lake whitefish (10); burbot (10); and trout (three).

Catch and release
“The harvest of arctic grayling was suspended in 2015,” says Myles Brown, senior fisheries biologist with Alberta Environment and Park. “It is an important distinction that this is not a fishing ban. Arctic grayling may still be fished following a catch and release regulation intended to support population recovery. A fishing closure (or ban), which is identified as a rest and recovery period, would imply no angling is permitted. This is one of the strongest conservation measure used to recover fish populations. Currently, the only fishing closure in Alberta is in the Upper Pembina River watershed.”

Fishing impacts grayling and other endangered fish, Brown says. “Over-harvest threats include unsustainable mortality from harvest for recreational or Indigenous fisheries, and cryptic mortality (unobservable or indirect deaths) from catch and release and illegal harvest.”

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