The State of the Bow River Fishery – Trout Populations may be in Decline

The Bow River is a world-renowned trout sports fishery that is under pressure from the human population growth in the region, ever-increasing demand for outdoor recreational pursuits, environmental changes and degradation of aquatic and riparian habitat.

Fishery managers have monitored the Bow River for more than 30 years, and in this time, it has been demonstrated that up until 2003 the fishery was sustainable with proper regulatory constraints. More recently though we have seen dramatic changes to the Bow River with devastating floods, low river flows in the warmest seasons, higher summer temperatures and now the presence of Whirling Disease.

A recent retrospective analysis of trout population data indicated that Bow River trout populations are in trouble. Data analysis showed that the Rainbow Trout populations may have declined by as much as 50% over a ten-year period from 2003 to 2013. This is a disturbing trend that needs immediate attention by all stakeholders involved.

The attached BowRiverFishPopulations Report documents the historical fish population surveys from 1980 to 2007 which at that time supported a sustainable fishery. The recent Rainbow Trout population analysis are also summarized.

Alberta Environment & Parks has started the engagement process with stakeholders to develop a policy to stop the decline in Bow River trout populations and hopefully see improvements in the future. The first step to a recovery program would be to establish a baseline fish population index that will guide fishery management policy change.

Bow River Trout Foundation is committed to this process and believes that the first step should be to conduct Bow River fish population monitoring on a regular basis that will give an index for the “The State of the Bow River Fishery”

The State of the Bow River Fishery

The Blue Ribbon Bow River needs your help. Your donation will assist BRT initiatives to monitor fish population dynamics and advocate for fishery management change.



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