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Home » Lakes of the Atlas » Peace and Athabasca Region » Smoky River Basin » Smoke Lake

Smoke Lake

    1.Introduction
    2.Drainage Basin Characteristics
    3.Lake Basin Characteristics
    4.Water Quality
    5.Biological Characteristics
    6.References
    7.Appendix

1. Introduction

Map Sheets:83K/7
Location:Tp62 R20 W5
Lat/Long:54°22'N 116°56'W

Smoke Lake is a popular sport fishing lake set in forested hills in Improvement District No. 16. It is located about 245 km northwest of the city of Edmonton, 83 km northeast of the town of Whitecourt and 9 km southwest of the town of Fox Creek. An industrial road that runs south from Highway 43 at Fox Creek branches east and then south and provides access to Smoke Lake Forest Recreation Area on the east side of the lake (Fig. 1).

The lake's name is related to that of the nearby Little Smoky River, which was named for the smouldering beds of coal found along its banks (Holmgren and Holmgren 1976). The lake has also been known as Buck Lake (Alta. Rec. Parks Wild. 1976).

The native inhabitants in the area northwest of Whitecourt were Woodland Cree, but the Beaver tribe may have lived there at an earlier time (Olecko 1974). The region was close to an aboriginal migration route from Lac Ste. Anne to the Sturgeon Lake area, and sites on Smoke Lake have traditionally been used as hunting and fishing bases. One site on the west side of the lake has been identified as a burial ground (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1988[b]). The first European to arrive in the area was probably David Thompson in 1799; he camped at a site that is now the Whitecourt townsite. Missionaries arrived in the region about 40 years later. Industrial development began in 1909 when logging and milling operations were initiated 10 km west of Whitecourt near the Athabasca River. The railroad arrived in Whitecourt in 1921, but was never completed to the Peace River Country, as originally proposed. The area near Smoke Lake was not developed until oil and gas exploration in the 1950s brought the railroad as far as the Kaybob station, 4 km south of the lake. Highway 43 opened in 1955, and was paved and completed in 1962 as far as the town of Valleyview, 70 km north of the lake. There has been no residential development at the lake (Knapik and Lindsay 1983).

In 1988, a lake management plan for Smoke Lake was completed by Alberta Forestry, Lands and Wildlife (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1988[b]). The plan assesses potential commercial and public recreational development of Smoke Lake based on environmental, social and economic constraints. It will be used as the basis for an area structure plan to guide development around the lake, which will be prepared by Improvement District No. 16.

Access to the lake is provided at the Smoke Lake Forest Recreation Area, an Alberta Forest Service campground that was built in 1968 (Fig. 2). There are 47 campsites, 5 picnic sites, pump water, a small sand beach and a boat launch. Popular activities at the lake are power boating, fishing, windsurfing and swimming. There are no boating restrictions specific to the lake, but general federal regulations apply (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1988[a]).The main catches of the popular summer sport fishery are northern pike, walleye and yellow perch. In winter, catches of large lake whitefish in the 2- to 3-kg range attract many anglers (Hunt 1989). Smoke Lake is closed to sport fishing for a designated period during April and May each year. As well, the lake's inlet and outlet streams are closed to fishing from September to mid-June each year (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1989). The commercial fishery opens intermittently; its main catch is lake whitefish.

Smoke Lake is quite fertile and the water often turns green with algae during late summer. Water clarity is poor during the rest of the year as well; the lack of clarity may be largely the result of high colour.

Physical Information
Area (km2)9.59
Max. Depth (m)8.3
Mean Depth (m)5.1
Dr. Basin Area (km2)127
Dam, WeirNone
Drainage BasinSmoky River Basin

Recreational Information
Camp GroundPresent
Boat LaunchPresent
Sport FishNorthern Pike, Lake Whitefish, Walleye, Yellow Perch

Water Quality Information
Trophic StatusEutrophic
TP x (µg/L)53
CHLORO x (µg/L)25.0
TDS x (mg/L)96

2.Drainage Basin Characteristics »

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