Fish Alberta – Wolf Lake

Wolves call the boreal forest around Wolf Lake home. The name and the surrounding area are evocative of the unspoiled nature, mature forest and striking scenery that visitors will find there.

The lake is popular for its simple, quiet and well-maintained campground, as well as other popular activities like berry picking, boating, swimming and water sports. The lake is slightly off the beaten path, and the only development on its shoreline is the campground and access road that were built in 1963.

Fishing

Wolf Lake is a popular sport fishery. Sport fish species include walleye, northern pike, yellow perch, burbot, and lake whitefish. Other fish in the community are cisco, white sucker, longnose sucker, brook stickleback, spottail shiner, Iowa darter, and nine-spine stickleback. Be sure to check the Alberta’s Guide to Sportfishing Regulations before casting your line there, as there are currently restrictions on harvesting walleye, pike, perch, burbot and lake whitefish.

History

Wolf Lake is well known for the rapid collapse of the walleye population that occurred there in the 1990s. It is a textbook example of why strong fisheries management is necessary. Over the course of the 1990s, the number of people fishing at the lake increased by 600 per cent … and the number of fish caught nosedived.

Teams of horses pulled load of logs near the shore of Wolf Lake in 1942. Image courtesy Glenbow Museum Archives.

By the end of the decade, it took on average 100 hours of fishing to catch a single walleye!

Following a series of public meetings, the development of the Walleye and Northern Pike management strategies and assessment tools, conservation-based regulations were implemented. The sport fisheries at Wolf Lake have recovered to a point where restricted harvest is available again.

The land in the area is owned by the federal and provincial governments. Parts of the provincial land are leased to the oil and gas industries or to farmers for grazing.

The shoreline of Wolf Lake is undeveloped except along the campground. The lake’s intact and healthy shoreline helps filter water, thereby improving water quality, and preventing erosion.

“Wolf Lake is a reminder of how even remote fisheries are vulnerable to overharvest and how careful management provides Albertans with sustainable fishing opportunities. Wolf Lake is a striking example of a pristine natural experience where Albertans with diverse interests can enjoy the quiet and beauty of the boreal forest, and enjoy a variety of fishing opportunities.”

– Dwayne Latty, Sr. Fisheries Biologist, Lower Athabasca Management Area

Management

 Alberta Environment and Parks’ Fisheries Management Objectives for Wolf Lake are:

Wolf Lake is an example of the importance of evidence-based fisheries management.

  • Indigenous Management Objective – Honour subsistence, heritage and ceremonial fishery uses through responsible management of fish populations.
  • Recreational Management Objective – Sustainable harvest for walleye, sustainable harvest for northern pike, sustainable harvest for lake whitefish and cisco, sustainable harvest for yellow perch, and sustainable harvest for burbot.
  • Habitat Management Objective – Maintain a low level of risk to sustainability regarding water quality and quantity, and aquatic habitat fragmentation.

Location

Wolf Lake is located just south of the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, approximately 60 km north of Bonnyville and 310 km northeast of Edmonton. There is an all-weather road north of Highway 55 that winds its way to the south shore of Wolf Lake.

Wolf Lake

Wolf Lake’s beautiful natural areas and relatively undeveloped shorelines are a perfect getaway for Alberta nature lovers. Through well-planned fishery management, the fish populations are on the rebound, and should remain stable over the next few years.  This lake is a hidden gem for Alberta’s sport fishing enthusiasts.

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