Let Loose the Tigers

Lower Chain Lake Tiger Trout
Lower Chain Lake Tiger Trout

Alberta Tiger TroutTiger Trout are now in a few, select water bodies across central – northern Alberta. Black Nugget Lake NE of Camrose; Lower Chain lake north of Athabasca; and East Twin Lake North of Manning.

Tiger Trout are a unique species that are hatchery bred and stocked into our lakes. They are a cross between brown trout and brook trout. The stocking of Tiger Trout is extremely unique. There were a finite number bred as a one-off hatchery event. They are difficult to produce, with 15% of fertilized eggs emerging. All reared fish are sterile. While there are 1-2000 young at the Cold Lake hatchery, there are no more tigers in production. What there is in this round of stocking is all that is available for the foreseeable future. 

Over the summer you no doubt hear rumblings of Tiger Trout being ready to stock into our lakes. At that time there was intent to stock tigers into a diverse group of stocked lakes and ponds across Alberta to spread out opportunity. However, a recent uncovering of criminal code liabilities in lake aeration caused Alberta’s lake aeration program to re-think its operations. A clause in the criminal code of Canada leaves liable the biologists, fisheries technicians, aerator operators, etc for not only properly warning of the dangers of open water created by lake aeration, but also requires proper barriers to keep individuals from any remote chance of working through those barriers to open water. The code leaves no room to prove due diligence as, if the barriers could be crossed in any imaginable means, they were inadequate. A plan of options is being developed and many of our lakes will be spared from possible winterkill – but it isn’t a slam-dunk to save all of our aerated lakes. The ACA is to present a plan this week. Rest assured, they are working their hardest and trying their best to ensure as many lakes will be treated with aeration this winter as possible. One of the spin-off impacts of the whole aeration liability situation is that the range of lakes available to stock tiger trout was shortened considerably as it made no sense to stock them into lakes susceptible to winterkill. The fish were ready to be stocked and had to leave the hatchery and be put in a stable, overwintering location. And so they were.

Again, while this isn’t a perfect-case scenario, it is important to remember that Tigers were discussed and mentioned in the fish culture and public arenas. As a first go with Tigers, it is important to remember that the government did come ’round to include a new opportunity. Now, with the numbers stocked at the above lakes, we’ll see how popular those fisheries become, how satisfied we are with the opportunities and just how long those opportunities last. If ever there was a time for anglers to limit their catch and allow a fish species to grow and show what they are capable of in a lake, this is it. A 28″ Tiger trout is a thing of fighting beauty. To allow a few to get that size would be something special in Alberta.

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