The 2016 fishing season began on May 15th and many anglers are now utilizing the opportunities to fish all around the province, including local fisheries such as Len Thompson Trout Pond located in Lacombe.
However, anglers need to be aware of the proper regulations and licenses, according to Jason Cooper, fisheries biologist for the Government of Alberta.
“The biggest thing is, is when you purchase your license to also purchase the fishing regulations guide and read it. It’s actually surprising how many anglers just assume that because they’ve been fishing for many years, the regulations never change. When in fact, they do change, so especially look at which area of the province you’ll be fishing in,” he said.
Cooper added that this year, a change has been made in terms of the rules for some fisheries in Alberta that seasoned fishermen should be aware of.
Most of the lakes have been stocked, but this year there were a few pike lakes which were changed to catch and release ponds. There has also been an update of species in the local ponds.
“There were tiger trout stocked in the province as of last fall so there’s a couple water bodies that provide a new fishing opportunity for anglers.”
Anglers are reminded to be aware of any aquatic invasive species, whether it be plants, fish or any other specimen that may not be natural to the habitat.
Cooper explained last year there were problems with tiger muscles being found on boats and reminds anglers to never ignore mandatory check stops.
“In terms of new rules, there are boat inspections. They go through an inspection station and it is mandatory to stop off at those. If people do observe or think there is an aquatic invasive species, there is a hotline they can call. Being a fish species or a plant species, and the muscles are also an issue as well – there’s lots of information available online at our web site.”
With spring coming early this year, the fish and culture staff have stocked most of the lakes and flowing waters.
“They are available for anglers to utilize. There are two water bodies in Lacombe being the Len Thompson trout pond and the storm water pond so there’s great opportunities for kids there, too.”
The Len Thompson pond is found in Lacombe, utilized by many children, anglers and families due to the constantly stocked fish.
However, there have been reports of children finding goldfish in the pond. Cooper said goldfish or any aquatic animal can be harmful for the native species found in the ponds.
“Certainly, the province does have a ‘don’t let it loose’ campaign and (officials) don’t want people to take it upon themselves to release any aquatic species into unknown environments.
“It can be detrimental to the native fish species and to the overall health of the aquatic system,” he said. “It is illegal to introduce fish into natural water bodies and people can be charged and held accountable for the cost of cleaning up or the removing of the particular species. We have been receiving reports at various storm water ponds throughout the province where we do have confirmed reports of goldfish.”
Cooper encourages those who don’t know how to properly dispose of unwanted fish to research, ask friends, ask local pet stores and look online for the large variety of options that don’t include releasing the fish into unknown environments.
“Overall, Alberta does offer some amazing fishing opportunities whether or not it’s with stock trout ponds. Even with our natural lakes we’ve had some significant improvements regarding sports fishing species being found there and whether or not that’s walleye or northern pike.”
To learn more about the fishing season, where to acquire a fishing license or some of the newly introduced regulations involving sport fishing, go to mywildalberta.com/Fishing.