© Herald photo by Matt Gardner
P.A. Anglers Fishing & Hunting co-owner Drew Fairs takes aim with one of the store’s hunting bows. A large number of hunting and fishing opportunities are available in and around the Prince Albert area.
Some of the best fishing and hunting opportunities for Prince Albert residents are also the closest to home.
As P.A. Anglers Fishing & Hunting co-owner Drew Fairs explained, avid hunters and fishers don’t have to travel far from the city to find an abundance of targets.
“There’s fishing in literally every direction around Prince Albert,” Fairs said. “You could drive half an hour in almost every direction and run into good fishing.”
The North Saskatchewan River is one of the most popular spots for local fishers, many of whom have caught some exceptionally large specimens there.
Anglers who travel further tend to favour the various northern lakes, such as Christopher Lake, Emma Lake, Anglin Lake, Candle Lake, as well as Prince Albert National Park.
South of the city, Wakaw Lake, St. Brieux and Lake Lenore are exceptionally popular fishing spots, while Tobin Lake attracts many visitors to the east.
Walleye and pike are the most common species of fish near the P.A. area, though the river also boasts sturgeon and goldeye. Lake trout generally reside north of La Ronge.
Fairs said most of the fishers he talks to aren’t choosy about where they cast their lines.
“Probably the most hardcore people we have don’t care,” he said. “They just fish wherever.
“They will do special trips to a lot of different lakes. But they’ll fish the river, they’ll fish Sturgeon Lake, which is really close. They’ll go everywhere … Most people don’t like to go far if they don’t have to.”
Similarly, P.A. hunters have the luxury of being able to find plenty of game close to the city limits.
Environment Ministry conservation officer Bonnie Greene said that the most popular hunting spots in the P.A. area tend to be along the forest fringe, where forested Crown land meets farmland.
“There are excellent opportunities to hunt all big game with a licence, except antelope and barren-ground caribou, that are all within an hour drive of Prince Albert,” Greene said.
“Both migratory birds and game birds can also be hunted very close to the Prince Albert area.”
Other species that Saskatchewan residents may hunt with a licence near Prince Albert include white-tailed and mule deer, elk, moose and black bears.
Greene encouraged hunters and fishers to turn in anyone engaged in activity they believe to be unlawful by calling the Ministry’s toll-free TIP (Turn In Poachers) number at 1-800-667-7561.
Most people don’t like to go far if they don’t have to. Drew Fairs
Fairs listed several popular hunting areas close to the city. Just north of the river is an archery bow zone where many hunt white-tailed deer, which runs for approximately 25 kilometres along both sides of Highway 55.
According to Fairs, bow hunting has recently grown in popularity.
“Bow hunting season for deer starts in September, whereas with rifle it starts in November,” he noted. “So you get two extra months of hunting and you can go out in a T-shirt, whereas in November, you pretty much need all your winter gear.”
When it comes to big game, many hunters search for elk and moose near Christopher Lake and in the Smeaton-Candle Lake-Meath Park area.
Further south, the large number of elk and moose are set up under the draw system, limiting the amount of hunters who can take part.
“Most of the open hunting is done north of town here, but you don’t have to go far,” Fairs said, noting that many of his favoured hunting spots were less than 15 minutes’ drive away.
From his conversations with local anglers, Fairs could not discern any major developments or changes for fishing opportunities this year.
Hunting, on the other hand, is a different story.
“I know from just talking to a lot of guys who have started hunting already, the numbers are a lot lower than they have been, because it was such a hard winter last year,” Fairs said.
“It was so cold for so long, and we had so much snow, that a lot of the animals took a pretty big hit. So there’s a lot less game than usual.”
“However,” he added, “it kind of goes in cycles usually where that’ll happen, then they’ll have a few really good years, and the population will be way back up.”
For a complete list of hunting zones, season dates and bag limits, hunters may consult the 2003 Hunting and Trapping Guide at any Environment Ministry office.
Fishers, meanwhile, can refer to the 2013 Saskatchewan Anglers Guide -- available where angling licences are sold -- for a list of angling limits, catch and release waters, season dates and zones.
Both documents are also available for download at www.environment.gov.sk.ca.