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Home » Lakes of the Atlas » South Saskatchewan Region » Red Deer River Basin » Little Fish Lake

Little Fish Lake

    2.Drainage Basin Characteristics
    3.Lake Basin Characteristics
    4.Water Quality
    5.Biological Characteristics

1. Introduction

Map Sheets:83P/8
Location:Tp28 R16, 17 W4
Lat/Long:51°22'N 112°14'W

Little Fish Lake lies among rolling, grassy hills in the dry, wind-swept prairies of southern Alberta. The lake is located on the western edge of Special Area No. 2, about 185 km northeast of the city of Calgary. To reach the lake from the city of Drumheller, take Highway 10 south for 15 km and continue east along Secondary Road 573 for 25 km to Little Fish Lake Provincial Park (Fig. 1). An alternate route is to follow Secondary Road 576 east from the city for 35 km, turn south on Secondary Road 851 and continue for 10.5 km to the provincial park. The closest population centre is the hamlet of East Coulee, about 15 km east of the lake.

The original name of Little Fish Lake was Lake of Little Fishes (Roen 1972). Native people dried and smoked fish from the lake for a winter food supply. Settlers also caught fish from the lake as an important food supplement. In early historic times the Blackfoot and Crow people both claimed the nearby Hand Hills area as a favorite buffalo-hunting ground, and territorial disputes were frequent. An old Indian trail that crossed the mouth of Willow Creek and led to Little Fish Lake still existed in 1972 (Roen 1972). The mixed-grass vegetation made the region ideal for cattle ranching and cattle grazed on the open range at the turn of the century. In 1909, the area was opened to homesteaders and the range land was fenced. In 1989, cattle grazing remained the primary land use in the region.

In 1934, land around Little Fish Lake was reserved for a park (Alta. Rec. Parks n.d.[a]). A local organization built Fish Lake Hall shortly after, and the hall and lake were used by local residents for a number of years. Interest in the park revived in the 1950s, and in 1957, Little Fish Lake Provincial Park was established. Activities enjoyed at the park are camping, picnicking, power boating and wind surfing. The park covers 0.61 km2, and its facilities consist of 100 random campsites, picnic sites, a playground, a beach, a boat launch and tap water. In posted areas, all vessels are prohibited or power boats are restricted to maximum speeds of 12 km/hour (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1988). There are no sport fishing regulations specific to Little Fish Lake, but Fish Creek and its tributaries are closed to sport fishing from 1 November to 15 June each year (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1989[b]).

Little Fish Lake is an important staging area for waterfowl during fall migration. The lake is shallow, slightly saline, and very productive; algal blooms flourish in summer. Since the early 1980s, declining water levels and poor water quality have had a detrimental effect on recreational use of the lake (Monenco Consult. Ltd. 1987). Swimming in Little Fish Lake is not recommended because algal blooms occasionally become toxic during late summer (Charlton and Brennan 1986). Also, the yellow perch population has decreased considerably and, as of 1988, Fish and Wildlife Division suspended the perch stocking program (Lowe 1988). In 1987, Alberta Environment investigated the possibility of diverting water into the lake to regulate water levels and improve water quality (Monenco Consult. Ltd. 1987). However, the study suggested that additional water quality data should be collected to augment the available baseline information and that the current low water levels were a natural extreme. Water diversion into Little Fish Lake was not recommended.

Physical Information
Area (km2)7.09
Max. Depth (m)3
Mean Depth (m)1.76
Dr. Basin Area (km2)157
Dam, WeirWeir
Drainage BasinRed Deer River Basin

Recreational Information
Camp GroundPresent
Boat LaunchPresent
Sport FishYellow Perch

Water Quality Information
Trophic StatusHyper-eutrohpic
TP x (µg/L)876
CHLORO x (µg/L)77.1
TDS x (mg/L)1168

2.Drainage Basin Characteristics »

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