Imagine the excitement of learning from the newly released 2017 Alberta fishing regulations that the government was now allowing the harvest of Walleye (and Pike if you are bent that way) on Pine Coulee Reservoir without the need for a special tag won through the long established and somewhat controversial lottery draw! Word of this regulation change had already reached fellow “Walleye Nut” Nate and we decided to check out the action.
Nate arrived with boat in tow in the late morning having taken care of his commitments for the day. We were oozing confidence that we would apply our angling skills developed from years of focused Walleye fishing and bag us some fish for the table.
We explored various locations in the reservoir which we can now confirm was largely featureless as typical of most Alberta reservoirs. We switched techniques as we monitored changes in water clarity and temperature at various points in the reservoir.
We finally hooked the first walleye on a subtle presentation with a jig and minnow off a lone piece of rock shoreline in about 21 feet of water. This fish was a whopping 30cm long which we let go in the hopes that some larger specimens would come to hand now that we found some fish.
Another lean 30cm Walleye was caught and kept this time “just in case”. In a “flurry” that lasted 30 minutes or so, we managed to catch our limit of 3 each and all of them were the exact same size save a few millimetres/ounces. What became apparent is that Pine Coulee had no baitfish community to speak of and that the walleye we were catching were all the same year class likely survivors from the last round of stocking. Speculating here … but it seems like this exciting, new catch and harvest opportunity as described by Alberta Environment and Parks was actually a veiled attempt to rid the reservoir of Walleye and Pike. Once the stock is depleted it is expected that this reservoir will be stocked with Rainbow Trout that can better survive (environmental conditions aside) on a benthic invertebrate diet.
What was most shocking to Nate and I was the fact that neither one of us really had any interest in catching any more Walleye here when normally we have to be dragged off the open water or ice kicking and screaming like little Trumps.
We can happily report that Walleye fillets might have been small but they sure tasted great!