Alberta is well known for its fishing opportunities, enjoyed by residents and sportsmen around the world.
There are 63 species of fish in the province, but only 18 of these species are preferred for food or angling.
Eight hundred lakes have naturally occurring fish populations and 300 or so are stocked with fish by the Alberta government.
Recreational fishing contributed more than $441 million to Alberta's economy in 2005.
Alberta is Barbless!
You can help increase the survival of released fish. The province of Alberta has regulations in place to maintain healthy fish stocks - for the benefit of current and future Albertans. To help achieve this goal, it's important to ensure that the maximum number of released fish survive.
Releasing a fish doesn't guarantee its survival. Handling and release must be done carefully to reduce stress on the fish and give it the best chance to live and reproduce.
Where, when and how you fish, the fishing gear you use, and the equipment and methods you use to release fish—all have an effect on the survival of released fish.
Keep Fish In Our Future
The barbless-hooks-only regulation for anglers came into effect on April 1, 2004. "Barbless hook" refers to a hook that does not have barb(s), or its barb(s) are pressed completely against the shaft of the hook so that the barb(s) are not functional.
||Barbless hooks are easier to remove from fish, allowing more fish to be released without being handled or removed from the water. They are also easier to remove from clothing or your fingers.
Anglers may still continue to carry barbed hooks if they wish, but any hook used for fishing must be barbless.
When handling a fish that is to be released, be gentle. Don't squeeze the fish or put your fingers in the eyes or gills, since this will increase mortality. Limit the amount of time the fish is out of the water, and whenever possible, unhook the fish without removing it from the water. When fishing where there is a size limit, carry a measuring stick. Leave the fish in the water and hold the stick beside it to determine if the fish is of legal length.
If the fish obviously isn't of legal length, grasp the hook shaft with needle-nose pliers, gently remove the hook and release the fish. If the fish is likely of legal size and you plan to keep it, hold the fish in a rubber mesh net or holding cradle while you measure to ensure it is of legal length.
||Using landing nets made of rubber reduces tangling and handling time, and is less damaging to fish.
The following practices also reduce handling time and stress for fish:
- working with a partner;
- using soft wet gloves; and
- having the proper tools, such as jaw spreaders, needle-nose pliers or hemostats, and a fish holding cradle.
Trying to remove a hook embedded deep in the gullet or gills should not be attempted, since damage caused by removing the hook will reduce survival. Leave the hook in, cut the line and release the fish. The fish will have a much better chance of survival.
When releasing a fish, never throw it back into the water!
If you have to handle a fish, release it gently and headfirst. A fish will often swim away on its own. If it doesn't, hold the fish gently in front of the tail and slowly move it back and forth to push fresh water over its gills. Release it when it begins to swim away.