Sunday, April 17, 2011

Catch 22

The last seven years in Alberta or at least in north-central Alberta had see very little precipitation.  Water levels were the lowest I've seen on most of our stillwater fisheries with water tables getting lower each year.  The spring of 2010 saw some much needed rain that appeared to halt the lowering water tables but was really just a drop of water in the proverbial bucket. Predictions for the 2010/2011 winter were optimistic as they called for a lot of snow.  The predictions were correct as a lot of snow is exactly what we got.  Although we'll most likely need another three or four winters like this year to get our water levels back up to where they were, it's sure to help but comes at a price. That same snow we needed so bad to help our fisheries has also been a detriment at the same time.  A catch 22 if you will.  All that snow has caused winter kill issues on many of our shallower lakes with reports coming in of dead fish being seen on the bottom of these lakes.  Even Muir Lake which is aerated throughout the winter months was not safe from this snowfall as oxygen levels tests in early 2011 showed low levels.   The last O2 tests showed an increase in oxygen and is now out of danger, let's just hope the trout made it through those tough times.


From Alberta Sustainable Resource Development Homepage:
Edmonton... The long winter with cold temperatures and heavy snowfall may cause low oxygen levels and winter kills of fish, especially in shallow lakes. Albertans can assist the government’s monitoring of fish populations by reporting any fish kills seen on lakes after spring break-up.

Many small, shallow lakes in Alberta, whether they contain native fish or stocked trout, can suffer winter kills. Thicker ice and above average snowfall minimize light penetration, reducing aquatic plant activity, which is a source of new oxygen in winter. In shallow lakes, the combination of decomposing plants using oxygen and a long winter can also result in low oxygen levels. Larger, deeper lakes may be able to better sustain the oxygen levels necessary for fish survival over winter.

Fish and wildlife staff have been monitoring oxygen levels on selected lakes in the province. They will continue to monitor fish populations and make adjustments as necessary. Albertans are encouraged to contact Fish and Wildlife offices of Sustainable Resource Development, if they see dead fish after spring ice break-up. Phone 310-0000 (toll-free within Alberta) to contact the nearest office.

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