U of R researchers fishing for answers in Buffalo Pound Lake

Buffalo Pound Lake is a popular fishing hole in the province, and now it's the centre of a University of Regina fish study.

Anglers can contribute to fisheries research while out on the lake this season

A transmitter is attached to a walleye. It will broadcast information about its location and activity to University of Regina researchers. (Chris Somers)

Buffalo Pound Lake is a popular fishing hole in the province, and now it's the centre of a University of Regina fish study.

Chris Somers, U of R associate professor of biology, and his Saskatchewan Sportfish Research Group were out on the lake in April tagging walleye, northern pike, burbot, and common carp with transmitters.

The transmitters will broadcast the location of the fish and information on their activity levels to a remote receiver 24-7. 

Somers says he's interested in what the transmitters will reveal about where burbot go during the summer months. (Chris Somers)

"We will be able to learn, basically for the first time, what those four different species of fish do across a six-month period of time in Buffalo Pound Lake," said Somers.

"It's a question that has perplexed anglers for decades now and that's really the thing that I find fascinating as well: What do those fish do once we release them and can't see them anymore?"

Somers compared the transmitter to a fitness app on a cellphone. It can calculate when the fish are swimming or feeding versus staying still.

He said he is particularly interested in determining where the burbot in Buffalo Lake Pound go during their summer dormant period. 

Diving deeper

The Buffalo Pound Lake study is part of a larger research project by Somers and U of R biology professor Richard Manzon.

Over the last two years, they have been trying to establish a fisheries research program in Saskatchewan.

"There is a ton of stuff we don't know about fish and we're just at the tip of the iceberg trying to figure it out," said Somers.

Fish will be attached with colourful tags with unique numbered codes. (Chris Somers)

"What we have been trying to do is fill a niche for scientific information to help management and conservation of fish in Saskatchewan," said Somers.

For long-term data collection, they will be attaching fish with what Somers calls "passive tags" — Floy Tags that provide fish with a unique identification number — in Buffalo Pound Lake, Lake Diefenbaker, Tobin Lake and Last Mountain Lake.

Both fish tagging programs rely heavily on the help of anglers. Somers is asking for anglers to report to him when they catch a tagged fish.

What should I do if I catch a tagged fish?

  • Record the tag colour and ID number on the tag.
  • Note the location and date of capture.
  • Study the fish's condition.

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