What are spring and fall fishing closures?

Spring and fall fishing closures occur during the fish spawning seasons. The closures protect fish from harvest or injury and ensure that fish have the best chance to reproduce healthy fish stocks for the future. Successful spawning is critical for fishing opportunities because the majority of Alberta fish populations are maintained by the spawning of wild fish.

Where and when do spawning closures occur?

Locations and dates vary from water body to water body, depending on what fish are present. Where possible, annual closing and opening dates are assigned to the waters in each area to simplify the regulations for anglers and protect the fish when they are most vulnerable. Exceptions do occur where a specific population will not be protected by the general area closure period.

  • In the prairie area of southern Alberta, most lakes, reservoirs, streams and canals close on April 1 and reopen on May 8 each year, remaining open until March 16.
  • In the parkland area of central Alberta and in the boreal areas of northern Alberta, lakes generally close on April 1 and reopen on the Friday of the May long weekend, remaining open until March 31.
  • Most streams in northern Alberta are closed to angling from November 1 to May 31.
  • In the Eastern Slopes area of the province, angling closures reflect the differences in fish species present as well as the effects of altitude and latitude on fish spawning seasons.

There are exceptions for all of these closures, so please check the current regulations for the fishing seasons on specific water bodies:

Why are angling closures needed during fish spawning seasons?

Alberta has about 800 lakes that support natural sport fish populations. Our fish populations are under heavy sport fishing pressure, and the numbers of large fish have declined. It’s important the remaining adults are undisturbed during their spawning seasons for the chance to reproduce successfully. This is critical to our future fishing opportunities as the vast majority of Alberta fish populations depend on the successful spawning of wild fish.

Will some water bodies remain open to fishing all year?

Most of the approximately 300 ponds that are stocked with trout remain open to angling throughout the year. These sites do not usually have the flowing water conditions that trout require to spawn successfully so there is no need for the closure.

Please check the current Alberta Guide to Sportfishing Regulations for the fishing seasons on specific water bodies.

Will commercial fishing be allowed during these angling closures?

Commercial fishing operators might fish at a few lakes during angling closures; however, there is strict control on their harvest of pike, walleye and lake trout. At some lakes, the commercial nets will harvest the fewest sport fish during the spawning closures, because the fish are concentrated in the spawning area and these areas are closed to the commercial netting activity.

Where can I get more information?

Updated: Jul 23, 2015