The province is urging people to be cautious when sport fishing this weekend as the hot, dry weather conditions are stressing out the fish in southern Alberta's lakes and rivers. 

The provincial government says some of the streams and rivers are warmer and lower than usual this year.

Extra caution should be taken in the following areas:

  • Castle River and tributaries from Highway 3 upstream to Westcastle River.
  • Oldman River from Racehorse Creek downstream to Oldman Reservoir; and from Highway 2 near Fort Macleod downstream to Highway 3 in Lethbridge.
  • Crowsnest River from Crowsnest Lake downstream to Oldman Reservoir.
  • Belly River downstream of Secondary Road 800.
  • Waterton River downstream of Waterton Reservoir.
  • St. Mary and tributaries downstream of St. Mary Reservoir.
  • Sheep River from Gorge Creek downstream to Highwood River.
  • Highwood River from Kananaskis Country boundary downstream to the mouth of Bow River.
  • Bow River from the Western Irrigation District weir to Bassano Dam.

The oxygen levels are lower too, so people are being urged not to "play the fish too hard" — or minimize handling time — and to keep them in the water as long as possible before releasing them back to the river. 

Lesley Peterson, a biologist with Trout Unlimited, said it puts stress on the fish.

"Imagine running a marathon and somebody holding your head under water afterwards, so that's the kind of thing it would sort fo feel like to a fish," she said. "You might not die immediately but it's really hard on you."

Driving in waterways also stressful

The province suggests people fish in stocked lakes or ponds.

Caley Millar has noticed the fish don't have as much fight in them.

"You can find some that are a little more lethargic 'cause of the warmer temperatures but you catch the right ones and they're still active," said the fisherman from his favourite fishing hole along the Bow River in Fish Creek Provincial Park. 

Driving a vehicle into a natural bodies of water such as lakes, streams and rivers also adds undue stress on fish and the environment, according the province. Officials are reminding people it is also against the law, and could lead to hefty fines.