Fishing Chair Report – Summer 2020
The 2020 spring runoff was uneventful until July when TransAlta appeared to have violated the Bow River water management practices. On Friday, July 03, 2020, with a rapid drop in the flow of more than 100 cms in just a few hours. The flow dropped below the Water Conservation Objectives (WCO), DFO, and AEP were notified of the transgression. Fish were stranded in pools of water created by the high spring runoff when the drop took place and perished in the next 48 hours before flow reversals were put in place. An internal review of TransAlta hydro operations has taken place as well as further fishery stakeholder discussions as to the best practice guidelines that could be put in place to alleviate the problem in future years. The AEP Bow River Modified Flood Mitigation mandate kicked out the first week of July and Ghost Reservoir was filled to normal operating levels and regulated flows for the remainder of the year. We have seen good flows for the balance of the summer and early fall.
Bow River access improvements are coming along fast this year. Policeman’s Flats Boat Ramp roadway access was upgraded this year. A new City of Calgary boat ramp at Ogden Bridge was started in August with completion in October. A new parking lot has been installed at the Graves Bridge/Glenmore boat ramp. A new road access to McKinnon Flats will start in September 2020. Unfortunately, access to McKinnon Flats will be closed on September 01, 2020, to meet construction needs.
Although I do not fish lakes, reports indicate the AEP and ACA trout stocking initiatives have been well received. Also, pike fishing continues to be a star in the fishing calendar. AEP continues to reorganize under the new government, but the rollout of program management is disappointing. There continues to be no focus on the south-western Alberta wild trout fishery that is showing a continued decline. Very disappointing to see no effort on the part of AFGA to advance concerns for such an important fishery.
On a rather negative note, it has been disappointing to see little interest on the part of AFGA and AEP to address a disappearing foothills trout fishery. The Bow River trout populations continue to decline by 4 -5% per year to 20- 25% of 2003 population numbers. Foothill streams are overfished with little interest on the part of AEP to make fundamental changes to fishing regulations to correct the situation. Hopefully, this will change in the coming years.
Furthermore, Calgary River Users Alliance (CRUA) has petitioned AEP Water Management Policy Division to make changes to the Bow River water management policy to protect the fishery. This is an issue of critical importance to local anglers, as without improvements the Bow River fishery will continue to decline as an important river recreational resource. I expect CRUA will continue to engage with the GoA on this issue. CFGA will be asked to support this initiative in the future.
McKinnon Flats Stewardship Alliance
Discussion with AEP with regards to a stewardship/partnership agreement to manage McKinnon Flats has been rewarding. CFGA has presented a proposal to AEP to work in partnership with river users’ stakeholders to develop the property to its full recreational potential. The first step to secure an agreement was to see the new road approved and a commitment to construct it. This has been done with the road construction scheduled for the fall of the year. The downside with the new road construction is that the fishing community will be challenged to find a takeout boat ramp within a reasonable distance from Calgary once the McKinnon Flats access is closed. It is hoped that we can negotiate an agreement to advance capital improvement needs of an expanded parking lot and vehicle restrictions to the river’s edge over the winter. The McKinnon family has shown considerable interest in advancing the recognition of the ranch homestead site as a significant historical site as a part of our alliance proposal.
A formal proposal for support of the McKinnon Flats Stewardship Alliance will be presented to the CFGA board in the fall of the year in advance of the AGM.
Fishing Chair – September 07, 2020