Last fall The Leader reported that a brand-new trout species had been introduced to a lake in the area. Tiger trout – a cross between the brown and brook trout – are now in Lily Lake, among many others across Alberta.
Apparently this is exciting news for anglers, and now there’s even more to be excited about. As of a couple of weeks ago, tiger trout are available for stocking of private ponds and lakes.
It’s been quite some time in coming. According to the Jan. 11 release, the availability of tiger trout for the aquaculture industry has been eight years in the making.
“We’re very careful on the stocking ratio, available food and other considerations when stocking tiger trout,” says Craig Copeland with Alberta Environment and Parks. “Tigers are a bit slower growing; they take a few years to develop and food availability is very important. 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.”
Max Menard of Smoky Trout Farm Ltd. says his tigers won’t be ready for stocking until this fall, as they are still at the egg stage. Not having raised them before, he’s hoping (but not sure) they’ll be in the five to eight-inch range in length by then. Order now, he says, if you want to be sure to get some of them when they’re ready.
As for the provincial stocking program, it’s expected there will be up to 30 lakes as of this year with tiger trout in them.
Tigers can grow quickly if there’s sufficient food, Copeland says. He advises patience; he also encourages anglers to release them. At about three years, given sufficient food, “they start to put on a lot of beef. They get very large. We’ve got one at the hatchery that’s 21 pounds!”
One reason tigers are popular with anglers is the habit they have of striking a fly and then diving straight down into deeper water.
“They’re a scrappy fish,” Copeland says.
Copeland says the stocking program is about 325 tiger trout per year. They’re about 23 centimetres long at the time of stocking (nine inches).
Fishing is gaining in popularity, Copeland adds. License sales in the past year were up 30 per cent. The province is keen to promote it, and COVID is a factor.