Numerous irrigation diversion structures exist on many river systems and on-stream reservoirs in southern Alberta. However, most of these structures do not have operable fish exclusion devices to keep both sportfish and non-sport species from entering the canals.
Wild sportfish that enter irrigation canals are generally lost to the fishery because existing canal structures prevent fish from returning to the river system. Until Trout Unlimited Canada's (TUC) Fish Rescues began in 1996, the extent of the problem in Alberta was very poorly documented and received little attention. The data collected over the years has helped to confirm that large numbers of sportfish are being stranded in diversion canals that do not have devices to prevent fish from entering the canals
What is Fish Rescue?
TUC staff and volunteers use electrofishing and netting to capture as many fish as possible from six different canals in southern Alberta fed by the Bow, Highwood, Belly, Waterton, and Oldman rivers. The fish are all identified and counted and returned to the appropriate river where they can complete their life cycle.
Since 1998, TUC and our volunteers have rescued over 731,000 fish! Rescued fish include rainbow trout, brown trout, mountain whitefish, bull trout, northern pike, burbot, lake whitefish and yellow perch as well as many unique and interesting non-sport fish species.