By Tim Kalinowski
Alberta Environment and Parks is asking residents in southern Alberta to be a little more considerate of fish in local creeks, rivers and water bodies. Temperatures are on the rise once again, climbing into the mid to high thirties over the next few weeks. Heat combined with low water levels makes a very taxing environment for fish.
“We’re just wanting people to be mindful of that at this time as elevated temperatures increase stress on the fish,” says ministry spokesperson Lisa Glover. “Warm water actually holds less oxygen than cooler water. So as the temperature rises there is less oxygen levels available for the fish.”
Glover says there have been a few isolated reports of summer kill in the region due to higher temperatures, but the ministry is not greatly concerned about a more widespread problem at this time. However, if temperatures stay high, and fish do begin to show signs of greater stress, ministry officials may have to take more drastic measures.
“There has been some summer kill, but not a lot,” confirms Glover. “We have had some people noticing it in the area. That’s why were are encouraging people to be very careful. We’re carefully monitoring it. We’re not at the point of closing any fishing areas, but we do watch for signs of fish stress. And if the temperatures continue to stay high we may have to consider further options.”
Glover says anglers can help reduce stress on local fish stocks by being pro-active.
“We recommend anglers take a thermometer out when they go. If the water temperature is above 22 C they should try to find another, cooler area to fish or try to stick to mornings or early evenings when the water is typically cooler.”
She says they are asking those who engage in catch and release fishing to curtail their fishing activities a bit. Especially in more shallow creeks and rivers.
“If you are doing a catch and release, we really recommend people minimize the handling of the fish. That way they can get back into the water quicker and there is not as much stress. Or if they, maybe, could cut back a little. It’s not at that point where we are telling people not to fish. We just want them to be mindful of the situation. We are still seeing low water levels in the south, and with the weather warming up over the past few days we are seeing some elevated temperatures again.”