Commercial Fishery on Turtle Lake
A commercial fishery for whitefish was in existence on Turtle Lake since the year 1900 (Dominion Alberta and Saskatchewan Commission Report 1910-1911). There were a few declines in the fishery during the first half of the 20th century with some population declines lasting up to five years.
Turtle Lake had a commercial quota for whitefish of 75,000 lb annually, and production averaged 60,000 lb per year until 1963. Local residents from around the lake participated in the annual winter fishery; a fish packing plant was located at Moonlight Bay on the west side of the lake. The whitefish population collapsed in 1963 and production averaged only 5200 lb/year until 1977, after which the lake was no longer fished commercially. The reason for the collapse is unknown, but a combination of fishing pressure and intermittent spawning success may have been responsible. There has been some indication the whitefish spawn in the shallow north end of the lake and in Mikinak Lake, both of which are subject to winterkill (therefore the eggs, which are laid in late fall, would not survive through the winter). The extensive stocking program was not successful at revitalizing the population.