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Stow those rods, anglers

A local angler is warning local fishermen and women to stay off the Sturgeon River until May 15 — they could be fined $200 if they don’t. St.

A local angler is warning local fishermen and women to stay off the Sturgeon River until May 15 — they could be fined $200 if they don’t.

St. Albert residents have contacted the Gazette in recent weeks saying that they had spotted people fishing in the Sturgeon River within city limits. It is illegal to fish almost anywhere along the Sturgeon River from April 1 to May 14, according to Alberta Fish and Wildlife.

Fisherman Alan Henry says he saw six people fishing in the city in the river just last weekend. What’s more, they were casting their lines in a known spawning area for fish.

“This is not a good time to be fishing,” he says. Provincial regulations forbid fishing in the Sturgeon during this time, and impose substantial penalties on anyone who does. “There are guys down there fishing, and they probably don’t know.”

Fishing in Alberta is governed by provincial sportfishing regulations, which require any Albertan aged 16 to 64 to have a fishing licence before they cast their lines, says Owen Watkins, a biologist with Alberta Fish and Wildlife. Anyone older, younger, or who is registered under the Indian Act doesn’t need one.

“Walleye and pike are starting their spawning at this time,” he says, and catching them could place them and all their potential spawn at risk of injury or death. The province has put temporary bans on fishing in lakes and rivers that contain spawning grounds to protect fish populations.

The Sturgeon River falls under the Parkland Prairie (PP2) section of the regulations, Watkins says. Year-round fishing on the Sturgeon is allowed, but only between Secondary Highway 825 and the North Saskatchewan River. The rest of the river, and all its lakes and tributaries, are closed to fishing between April 1 and May 14. This closure also affects Big Lake, Isle Lake, Matchayaw (Devil’s) Lake and Lac Ste. Anne. Fishing is not allowed in Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park, which contains Big Lake.

Anyone caught fishing in a river while it is closed could get anything from a warning to a $200 fine, Watkins says. He asks anyone who spots someone fishing in the Sturgeon between now and May 14 to call the province’s Report a Poacher hotline at 1-800-642-3800.

Henry says he reported the people he saw to Fish and Wildlife. They probably didn’t know they were breaking the rules, a situation the city could fix by posting the days when the river is closed, he adds. “Unfortunately, the fish only get lucky once a year, so leave them alone for two weeks.”

Visit for more on Alberta’s fishing rules.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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