Tiger trout will be readily available in Alberta

Pictured: tiger trout final rearing 14 months old.

For the first time ever, tiger trout will be available as a licensed species of trout for those in the aquaculture industry, pond owners such as those in the agriculture industry and private lake and reaction property owners. 

According to a release “the licensing change from Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) is the culmination of years of cautious study, conversations between government and industry, and planning for the further introduction of the species.”

Max Menard, Owner / Aeration Designer of Smoky Trout Farm Limited located in Red Deer County, he said the change has been a long time coming. However, he doesn’t expect it to be a huge windfall for them but it definitely gives customers much more choice in filling their water bodies.

“There has been a low level of interest in stocking Tiger Trout for about 10 years, with that demand increasing since around 2015 when Alberta Environment first stocked them in the province,” explained Menard in an interview. “The provincial biologists needed to do an environmental risk assessment before wider stocking of Tiger Trout could occur.  Alberta Environment did these low level stockings for five years while monitoring the populations closely.

“Adding the new strain won't make much of a financial difference for our business, as most of our customers won't spend any more money on the different strain of trout.  It's likely that some of them will just make a shift in the strain that they buy.  It will provide more choice to pond and lake owners in what they can stock.”

The popularity in tiger trout has increased and was noticeable last year. Menard says Alberta Environment stocked over 100,000 tiger trout in more than 25 water bodies in the province in 2020. They plan to stock about 30 water bodies in 2021.  About 20,000-30,000 tiger trout eggs and fry are being made available by Alberta Environment to the private fish farms in the province this spring, which will be sold to privately licensed pond and lake owners in the fall of 2021 and spring 2022.  “Typically it takes anywhere from 6-12 months to grow a fish that is large enough to stock, depending on the desired stocking size that the end customer is looking for,” he explained and added they do not ship fish to Saskatchewan or British Columbia.

“There are over 3,000 private ponds and man made lakes that are licensed for stocking in Alberta, the Tiger Trout that we will have for sale will move to some of these end customers.”

Menard says tiger trout are more aggressive than other strains of trout. They will live longer than rainbow trout, which are the most common strain stocked in the province.  A rainbow trout might survive for 5-6 years in a pond, whereas a tiger might live eight to ten years. 

“We’re very careful on the stocking ratio, available food and other considerations when stocking tiger trout. Tigers are a bit slower growing, they take a few years to develop and food availability is very important,” stated Craig Copeland with AEP.  “For working with the aquaculture industry for stocking, there has been a very clear direction at AEP that our hatcheries can supply surplus to them. We’ll be providing eggs and fingerlings to fish farms, and pond owners can purchase stock from fish farms.”

As for those anglers who have never caught a tiger trout, they are in for a treat.

‘The tigers will pull much deeper when fighting, compared to a rainbow that might be more likely to fight and jump at surface,” explains Menard. “Tiger trout can get to a very large size, over 20 lbs.

For more information, here is the trout stocking report from 2020 for Alberta Environment.  

https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/be2e3289-2f94-461d-b4b9-ef50216b8157/resource/605d67ee-0e81-425f-afc0-571edaddd02d/download/aep-alberta-fish-stocking-report-2020.pdf

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