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Crayfish in the North Saskatchewan


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Following is information I had on file that originated from our Fly Casting seminar that Brian Hepperle, Instructed back in June.

 

From: John Marple

Sent: Saturday, June 05, 2004 9:54 PM

To: Dunnigan, Mark

Subject:

 

 

Hi Mark,

I was surprised to see what looked like a little lobster today on the N.Saskachewan River, June 5, 2004, while fishing with the Northern Lights Fly Tiers and Fishers Club.

The internet says, "Orconectes Virilis", it was about 5 inches long and had quite a grip with those claws. I didn't know that they existed in Alberta. Have they always been here? It was located and observed about a couple of hundred yards downstream of Whitemud Creek on the N.S. River. It appeared to be a female (a pocket of eggs in her tail). Are they common?

 

Thanks,

 

John Marple

 

 

Hi John;

Crayfish are indigenous to Alberta; however, only to the Beaver River system (Cold Lake area). The northern crayfish (Orconectes virilis) has been invading several waterbodies in Alberta, they recently invaded the North Saskatchewan River a few years ago (late 1990s) and have established large populations from around Devon to the Alberta-Saskatchewan border. They have also recently invaded several streams and lakes throughout central and southern Alberta (Battle, South Saskatchewan, and Bow rivers, etc.). The reason for their recent expansion is not clear. It could be due to climate warming or introduction by fishermen that have been using them as bait, or a combination of both.

 

Hope this information helps. If you come across any crayfish in the NSR upstream of Devon, please let me know.

 

Regards,

Mark.

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Interesting,

 

It makes you wonder how they spread. I could see a river system that connects to water that has a population. Crawdaddys can walk slowly but they could still populate an area eventually. But getting into ponds? Sounds like they are either spread by birds or some homesick Cajun.

 

Bring em on! I have some crawfish boil and a real good gumbo recipe.

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I know that in the case of the westlock pond that people harvest the craws in the fall. I was there one afternoon, and seen 2 guys in the water collecting them for food. I was pretty surprised to see them in the first place, but I think they are the same species that are sold in pet stores as well. Mabey they become a menice in aquariums, and are released in these ponds. In the case of Beaumont, I think this may be what happened, as I have also seen a couple goldfish(comets) in the pond once.

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I've seen them harvested a few times at Morinville. I don't know about eating them here in Alberta though, maybe if I lived in Louisiana. My Dad and I have an ongoing joke when we go out for dinner if we get really small lobsters or in pasta dishes if they advertise small lobster meat, we just assume they got it from the Morinville pond.

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Dennis,

 

Could you point me towards any information that suggests that birds are carriers of either fish/vermin eggs.

I've heard for years that fish eggs get transferred by birds. You'd think if such a thing was possible, that every little pond in the province would be infested with perch.

From pond > pond, at least in my area, the minnow populations vary. Their eggs should be smaller than perch but the minnos don't seem to get transferred.

Help,

 

 

catch ya'

 

 

Don

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