Stream Tender     Magazine

February  2016 Issue

“Spawning on the Enhanced Habitat on Millennium Creek”

    In the last year of the Millennium Creek Restoration Program, in 2008, spawning habitats were created on the chance that brook trout would utilize them for reproduction.

    During the first fall spawning period, after the project year was completed, it was great to see spawning brook trout using the gravel beds that were created on the creek. This alone, made all of our efforts worthwhile.

    However, until this year of 2016, it was hard to provide evidence of whether or not the eggs from each year’s spawning, on the original habitats, were hatching.

    There was still a considerable amount of silt moving down the creek thru the winter months, so this could smother the eggs while they were incubating. I felt it was important to verify that some of the eggs survived.

    Fortunately, this February, I managed to finally observe brook trout fry, just downstream of the spawning beds that were added into the stream channel.

    This discovery was great news for the stream’s health as a spawning and nursery habitat. The small brook trout fry provided me with a few photos, which is enough evidence to solve this mystery on Millennium Creek.

Above: This photo shows a brook trout holding over the spawning beds that were created in the last year of the stream restoration program on Millennium Creek, in 2008.

Above: This is a photo of a newly hatched brook trout that was holding in one of the pool habitats that were constructed during the 4 year restoration program on Millennium Creek. This is the first time that I was able to capture a brook trout fry, that was hatched from a spawning bed only a few metres upstream of the pool habitat. This proves that some brook trout eggs do survive and hatch on the creek channel.

“2014 West Nose Creek Willow and Tree Plants, in the City of Calgary”

    On February 20th, I inspected the Hidden Creek Drive planting site on West Nose Creek, in the City of Calgary. To my surprise, the creek was open and almost free of ice.

    Along the water’s edge, I could see the willows that were planted in 2014 growing out and over the surface of the stream, along the stream banks.

    A number of plants had been damaged by rodents stripping both limbs and bark off of a few of the plants, but they still appeared to be alive.

    In a few more years, these plants from the first year of the Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program will be very noticeable along the banks of the creek in Calgary.

Right Photos:

    These photos show how the willow plants from the 2014 planting program are doing on West Nose Creek, in the City of Calgary.

    Rodents have been foraging on some of the willows and trees, but these plants may still survive to see maturity. This damage is just part of the natural process of planting native plants.

“The Urban Fishery Program Initiative”

    Bow Valley Habitat Development has been collecting important fisheries information and data on a number of local streams in recent years. The three key streams in this program are Bighill Creek, in the Town of Cochrane, West Nose Creek in the City of Calgary and Nose Creek in the City of Airdrie.

    This fisheries related information can be utilized to better educate both municipal managers and fisheries managers on important new developments in the health of urban fisheries. The benefits of this knowledge can lead to new potential management strategies to protect and enhance this precious resource.

    Over the last few years, I have noticed a keen interest by both City and Town department managers, to any new discoveries that have occurred in their areas of responsibility. Primarily parks settings along the streams previously mentioned.

    Some examples of what types of data have been collected are as follows:

·                 Stream water temperature logging.

·                 Documenting and mapping key spawning habitats and annual timing information on when spawning occurs.

·                 Success of egg incubation and timing of hatch and emergence.

·                 Location of fish populations and the species of sport fish in those areas.

·                 Location of key feeder springs on all three systems in the program.

    There have also been some measures taken to enhance the fisheries in the local streams in the program.  Some examples of this are as follows:

·                 Removal of old beaver dams to allow fish migration upstream.

·                 Enhancement of fish habitat by riparian recovery and enhancement.

·                 Taking measures to encourage the implementation of stream fisheries management policies to protect wild sport fish populations.

·                 Communicate to the general public, information on the local urban fishery, through internet publications such as Stream Tender Magazine, Stream Tender Blog and Bow Valley Habitat Development websites.

    These and other pursuits are an important part of the Urban Fisheries Program Initiative. Information gathered during recent years and into the future, will be passed on to the urban contacts that BVHD has established and also to the regional fisheries biologists.

    This work will continue into the future under the title “The Urban Fisheries Program”. Hopefully, the result will be of major benefit to our home waters.

Urban Fishery Program 2015 Volunteer Contribution Summary

    This past year was a great year for volunteer support for the “Urban Fishery Program”. The most notable contribution in time was directed at Beaver Dam Notching, which involved the opening of old beaver dams to allow fish migration.

    This part of our volunteer program is the best opportunity for the average person whom wishes to get involved, can chip in and do some good. It is also a fun event. Most of these volunteers are fly fisher’s, so they are stake holders in the fishery.

    It is important to keep a record of how many volunteer hours are committed each year, to demonstrate the interest that folks have in taking care of their local fishery.

    Besides the beaver dam notching work completed, there were a number of other activities that required a commitment of time to carry out. The following break down demonstrates this further contribution, including the beaver dam program:

 

Dam notching——67 hours

Spawning survey  –26 hours

Hatch monitoring -18 hours

Publishing Stream Tender Magazine ————77 hours

Meetings/Tours/Inspection ————————18 hours

 

Total VPH’s —206 hours

 

    I look forward to another very productive year in 2016. There are already some worthwhile plans for this season in the works.

“Monitoring the Trout Hatch for 2016”

    As I write this, confirmation of a successful trout egg hatch has already been established on Millennium Creek. Later on in the early spring, monitoring of both Ranch House Spring Creek and the Upper Park Spring Creek will reveal the results of hatch activity on those streams.

    The stream that provides the greatest interest for me this new year is West Nose Creek. After discovering spawning activity by brown trout this past fall, I am very excited to see if I can confirm a successful incubation of those trout eggs.

    Just this past week, I made a trip into the city to see whether some feeder springs had opened up the West Nose Creek stream channel, early in the winter. The influence of the warmer water provided by these feeder springs would provide a clue as to whether there would be an earlier hatch of the trout eggs.

    Thermal temperature range has a direct influence on the incubation timing for fall spawning trout, such as brown trout and brook trout. If the water is warmer, the incubation 

window will be shorter.

    To my surprise, the creek channel at the key spawning habitat next to Country Hills Boulevard was almost totally free of ice. There are two primary feeder springs just upstream of this site that had kept the surface of the water free of ice and warmer than other areas of the stream.

    There could be some trout fry emerging from the spawning gravel as early as March or possibly as late as May. I will start to monitor the stream for any signs of trout fry, in mid to late March. This will continue until either I spot some juvenile trout or I don’t.

    If I am lucky enough to confirm a hatch on West Nose Creek this late winter or early spring, I will try to take some video or photos of the trout. You can expect a photo and article in the next issue of this magazine, if I am lucky.

    Judging by the clean spawning gravel at the Country Hills site this past week, I suspect that the survival of trout eggs may well be a “good bet” for this year. At least that is my hope.

“A Trout Redd on West Nose Creek”

Above: This clean patch of gravel is a trout redd or egg nest on West Nose Creek. The photo was taken during the fall spawning period on West Nose this past fall.

    The female trout fans a depression in the gravel and then lays her eggs, as the male trout fertilizes them. The eggs are then covered with gravel by the female and the water percolates through the gravel providing oxygen, as the eggs incubate.

    Large movement of silt in a stream can smother the eggs, or greatly reduce the survival rate. This is yet to be determined on West Nose Creek.

A trout redd on West Nose Creek in the fall of 2015

“There is an abundance of microscopic aquatic invertebrate life in Millennium Creek, to sustain a trout fry for the first part of its life. Especially midge larva”