Anglers around the province will be dusting off their boats, tackle boxes and fishing rods as the 2018-19 fishing season opens up this weekend.
The Southern Zone of Saskatchewan, which includes everywhere south of Prince Albert and Meadow Lake, opens up May 5. The Central Zone - which includes Prince Albert National Park, Candle Lake, and Lac La Ronge, opens May 15, with the Northern Zone opening their season on May 25.
Darrell Crabbe, Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation:
"It runs 'til March 31, which is the normal fishing season. It's closed down just for those 5 weeks to coincide with the spawn, which is about 2 weeks late for us, so things are a little bit behind this year but yeah, it should be another great season."
The reason the spawn is later than normal this year is because of the colder water thanks to the extended winter Saskatchewan experienced.
There are no major changes to any of the laws or rules surrounding the fishing season this year; however, Crabbe asks everyone who takes a boat out on the water this year to be extra cautious when traveling from lake-to-lake. The threat of invasive aquatic species such as zebra mussels is very real, and very dangerous.
"This is a very serious threat we have to our aquatic systems in the province. There's at least 2 confirmed cases in Manitoba that now have zebra mussels in them. Which not just from an anglers point of view, but certainly from an industry point of view would be devastating in our province."
Whether returning home from out of province, coming to visit or moving between waters within the province, it's important to make sure your boat and equipment are all cleaned, drained, and dried.
Zebra mussels can be transferred from lake to lake in or on boats, boat trailers, and even water toys and float-ables like tubes. Once they are in a body of water, they begin by eating the phytoplankton, which is a primary food source for smaller fish. Once those smaller fish run out of food, they starve and die, followed by the larger game fish who rely on them as their primary food source.
It's not just the wildlife within the lakes they affect either.
"Mussels have a horrendous effect on any intakes, for example at Buffalo Pound Lake where we have the intakes for water treatment systems or the potash industry or other users downstream. The impact it would have on them would be in the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars."
The 2018 Saskatchewan Anglers Guide recommends cleaning all mud and plants off of your boat and trailer when moving between lakes. To pull the plug on your boat when travelling to allow all water to drain from within, and to let all water supplies and equipment sit in the sun for at least 5 days to allow any aquatic life that may be clinging to dry up and die.