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Alberta fishing bans remain but experts hopeful after rainy weekend

WATCH ABOVE: The cool, wet weather was a big help for fish populations this weekend, but was it enough? Global’s Doug Vaessen reports.

CALGARY – The cool, wet weekend was a good sign for the Alberta fishing industry, but many closures remained in effect Monday.

About 25 millimetres of rain fell in the Calgary area on Saturday and Sunday, which was enough to calm frayed nerves in both the industry and at Alberta Environment.

Aaron Feltham is part-owner of Bow River Troutfitters, and said he’s happy the bans are continuing even if water temperatures are now below threshold levels.

“Better to be safe than sorry in this situation – as I have explained to  lot of people,” said Feltham. “This is our resource here, it’s a lot more important than just another day of fishing.”

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“We have been doing the rain dance around here so if you see a little mischievous behaviour then you will probably have a good idea that’s what it is.”

The province said it’s keeping a close look at the rivers, with bans still in place in 18 sensitive areas. Even if temperatures have cooled, the danger is not over.

Scroll down to see a full list of fishing closures

Paul Christensen, senior biologist for the provincial fisheries department said fish can be killed outright with temperatures above 24 C. Even with current temperatures averaging in the high teens, fisheries remain in danger.

“The delayed mortality and the stress it’s causing to reproductive habits, feeding habits, some metabolic changes that fish can undergo…We want to make sure that water temperatures are low enough that catch-and-release mortality would be acceptable.”

Christensen said cool overnight temperatures and some rain this week could see all 18 bans lifted after next weekend.

READ MORE: Alberta fly fishers divided on whether fishing bans are extensive enough

The following areas were closed to all fishing as of Friday until further notice:

  • Threepoint Creek and tributaries;
  • Jumpingpound Creek from headwaters to the Bow River;
  • Little Red Deer River and tributaries from headwaters downstream to Red Deer River, including Dogpound Creek and tributaries;
  • Waterton River and all tributaries upstream of Waterton Reservoir, including Drywood Creek;
  • Waterton River downstream of Waterton Reservoir, river only;
  • Castle River and tributaries downstream of SH 507 to Highway 3, including Screwdriver Creek, Beaver Mines Creek and Mill Creek;
  • Pincher Creek and tributaries;
  • Oldman River from Highway 22 downstream to Secondary Road 510, river only; and
  • Willow Creek, main stem and tributaries from Chain Lakes downstream to Pine Coulee Reservoir Diversion Head pond.
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The below closures, issued Tuesday, remain in effect:

  • Sheep River from the headwaters to the Highwood River including Gorge Creek and tributaries;
  • Highwood River from headwaters to Bow River;
  • St. Mary River, downstream of the St. Mary Reservoir and tributaries;
  • Belly River, downstream of Secondary Road 800;
  • Bow River from Bearspaw Reservoir to the W.H.D. Weir;
  • Bow River from W.H.D Weir to the Carseland Weir;
  • Bow River from Carseland Weir to Highway 24 bridge;
  • Bow River from Highway 24 bridge downstream to Bassano Dam; and
  • Elbow River from Glenmore Reservoir to the Bow River confluence.

Anglers with questions can call the Alberta Environment and Parks information line toll-free at 310-3773.

With files from Erika Tucker