Recreational Trout Stocking
With over 240 waterbodies being stocked with trout for recreational purposes, these fisheries are some of the most popular amongst anglers in Alberta!
Through this program, Alberta’s fisheries continue to provide diverse angling opportunities.
Why Stock Trout?
Recreational trout stocking creates additional angling opportunities in Alberta through the implemention of put-and-take fisheries. This includes opportunities in historically fishless waterbodies while limiting the impact on native fish populations and allowing anglers to retain fish for consumption. These initiatives account for roughly 25% of all fishing effort in Alberta.
Which trout are stocked?
Rainbow trout are the primary species raised in Alberta’s provincial fish hatcheries, due to their popularity among anglers and the success rates of rearing them in large capacities within a hatchery environment.
Additional species, including brook trout, brown trout, tiger trout and cutthroat trout are also reared in Alberta’s fish hatcheries. Stocking a diversity of trout species - including non-native species - provides diverse angling opportunities and reduces angling pressures on native fish stocks.Sterile trout are raised and stocked in many parts of Alberta to reduce potential impacts to native trout populations.
These sterile trout have a third copy of genetic material in their cells, a process knowing as triploiding. Sterile stocked trout will not spawn with wild trout populations nor deplete the genetic diversity of native species.
Triploiding of Stock Trout
How does Trout Stocking Occur?
Alberta’s trout stocking program has been active since the early 1900s. Allison Creek and Raven Brood Trout Stations house mature brook trout, brown trout, cutthroat trout, and rainbow trout Each brood stock is made up of 600-1000 fish, with roughly 2/3 of them being female.
Brood stocks are spawned annually, but at different times during the year. Captive spawning does not follow natural fish spawning cycles. Instead, water temperature and light exposure are controlled to allow for year-round fish rearing in Alberta.
During spawning, “ripe” or egg-bearing females are put into an anaesthetic bath and pressure is applied from head to tail to “strip” the eggs. A single female will release between 1,000 to 6,000 eggs at a time, depending on the species and size. The same process is applied to mature males to “express” the milt.
Eggs are fertilized in lots, crossing a single female’s eggs with the milt of multiple males from of the same species. Fertilized eggs are pressurized treated to become triploid so they cannot reproduce. Tiger trout are not pressurized as they are already sterile. Eggs are then placed in incubation jars for approximately one month while eggs grow to their eyed egg stage.
Eyed eggs are counted and transported to the Sam Livingston and Cold Lake fish hatcheries where they hatch and are reared to alevin, to fry, to adult stages.
Trout grow relatively quickly, reaching the adult stage within 12 to 18 months. Over two million fry and juvenile adult trout (8 to 18 months old) are stocked into Alberta’s waters from spring to fall each year.
Hatchery-reared trout are loaded into stocking trucks for transport to closed system lakes and ponds. Fish are released through a long tube or by carrying buckets if the stocking truck cannot reach the waters edge.
Remote lakes may be stocked by helicopter to limit the time that fish are in transport. Curious about helistocking? Check out this blog.
Where We Stock Trout
The number of fish and how often each waterbody is stocked is specific to each waterbody, and is based on many factors, like water temperature, water quality, resident wild fish populations and angling pressures.
Always check the sportfishing regulations before heading out to a waterbody for open season, bait bans and gear restrictions, and catch limits, including the number and size of fish you are allowed to keep.
Updated: May 25, 2021