Warm water tough on fish

Some Central Alberta fish are in hot water and provincial officials are asking anglers to leave them alone if water temperatures go too high.

Some Central Alberta fish are in hot water and provincial officials are asking anglers to leave them alone if water temperatures go too high.

A number of foothills streams are warm due to shallow water and higher summer temperatures heating up water temperatures.

Sustainable Resource Development officials are asking anglers to take a thermometer with them and not fish if the water temperature goes above 22C.

Dave Ealey, a spokesman with Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, said the fish are already stressed with the warmer water but officials are hoping by anglers following this new request, it could reduce the likelihood of angling pressure adding to the stress that fish — primarily trout — experience in hot weather.

Water temperatures as high as 26.5C have been recorded at some foothills streams from Rocky Mountain House to the Montana border.

Many trout species fare best in water at 15C, with mountain whitefish being able to handle higher temperatures. As the water temperatures increase the amount of oxygen in the water decreases, harming the fish. Capturing fish increases oxygen demands and can cause a higher number of fish deaths.

Ealey recommended anglers try fishing early in the morning, when temperatures are less likely to be high and it won’t be as disruptive on the fish.

He said the government department chose to ask people to do this rather than close down streams because shutting down the streams would be awkward to administer. The voluntary restriction will be in effect until water temperatures remain below 22 C for five consecutive days.

If anglers see a fish kill, they are asked to record the date and time, the location and the approximate number of species killed and then report it to their nearest Alberta Fish and Wildlife Office.

sobrien@bprda.wpengine.com

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