During the month of August, the Government of Alberta enacted “Time of Day” angling restrictions to limit stress on their gamefish populations during a stretch of exceptionally high water temperatures and low flow rates. Here is what the Government of Alberta had to say:
During the 2022-23 Sportfishing Regulation Engagement, feedback was collected on restrictions to angling during low flows and water high temperature events. After considering feedback provided from Albertans, Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) has developed a flexible approach to protect fish during periods of lows flows and high temperatures by creating a time of day angling restriction.
A time of day angling restriction is when angling is not permitted from 2:00 PM to midnight (14:00 to 24:00) at specified locations.
Between July 01 and August 31, a time of day angling restriction may be put in place for:
- all rivers and streams (flowing waters) in fisheries management zone ES1, including the Bow River downstream of Banff National Park to Bassano Dam (this includes Ghost Reservoir, Bearspaw Reservoir and Bassano Reservoir)
- St. Mary’s River mainstem (including tributaries) below the St. Mary’s Reservoir in fisheries management zone PP1
See the map below for areas that will fall under this time of day angling restrictions.
Implementation of Time of Day Angling Restrictions
Time of day angling restrictions will be implemented when water temperatures and flows reach certain thresholds. As such, AEP will monitor temperature and flow data from flowing waters across southwestern Alberta; however, all decisions on time of day angling restrictions are made based upon conditions recorded at the Bow River monitoring station at Carseland. This station provides real-time water temperature and flow information, which allows AEP to compare real-time information to the thresholds set to protect fish during these high-risk periods.
The thresholds that have been set to protect fish (based on the protection of trout) are:
- when water temperatures exceed 20°C for three or more consecutive days and,
- when flows in the Bow River are below the 25th water flow percentile for 4 or more days at that time of year as measured at the Carseland monitoring station.
As early as July 1, AEP will implement time of day angling restrictions when the above flow and temperature criteria are met and the forecast does not indicate improvements to the conditions in the immediate future. When implemented, a time of day angling restriction will be in place for a minimum of 14 days. During this period, AEP will continue to monitor water temperatures, flows, and long term weather forecasts. Based on this monitoring, AEP will determine whether time of day angling restrictions will continue for an additional 14 day period or be lifted. On day 28, a decision to continue or reinstate time of day restrictions will be made which will remain in place until September 1. The intent is to remove all restrictions as of September 1.
Communication of Time of Day Angling Restrictions
It is up to every angler to know the sportfishing regulations of the waterbodies they plan to fish.If a time of day restriction is implemented, updates will be provided on the My Wild Alberta Fishing Advisories, Corrections and Closures webpage, and through AEP social media channels:
Know before you go – check the Fishing Advisories, Corrections and Closures before fishing, as these will be updated to notify anglers of time of day restrictions. These same mechanisms will be used to communicate when closures have been lifted.
The importance of protecting our fish and fisheries
This approach aligns with approaches in other jurisdictions and recognizes the importance of conserving the riverine fish and fisheries during times of low flows and high temperatures in southern Alberta.
It is important to note that the overall goal of a time of day angling restriction is to reduce angling effort and associated fish mortality due to hooking and handling during periods of warm temperatures and low flows when fish are already stressed. If angling effort is not reduced or is shifted to other sensitive areas, such as streams and rivers in Eastern Slopes, Zone 1 (ES1), it is unlikely that we can achieve the desired level of protection for these fisheries.
Once implemented in 2022, AEP will evaluate and improve the approach for subsequent years.
If you are reading this in September, the angling restrictions have already been lifted, however, this could set a precedent for other provinces to adopt the policy in future years.
What do you think of these restrictions? Let us know in the comments below!