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Stream Tender Magazine

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             Introduction:

Where the impacts of human activity have either directly or indirectly effected the natural state of fish bearing streams, mitigation or remedial measures may be required to compensate for those negative impacts. Methodology designed to repair or enhance both riparian and fish habitat has been used to facilitate the recovery of many streams in recent years. The technology used is still being developed, especially in the area of bio-engineering plants for the enhancement of riparian zones. It is of major importance that any in-stream structures emulate the appearance of a natural stream habitat. This is achieved by the use of natural materials such as boulders, timber and living plants. The used of these materials adds a special challenge to the engineering and construction of structures that will stand up to the influences of high flow events, winter ice and frost conditions. Also important, is the necessity of having all of the necessary permits and permissions from government agencies that are responsible for managing our flowing water ways. In some cases this can be a lengthy process, but it is required by law and common sense. Riparian and fish habitat enhancement programs are not only beneficial to maintaining our streams, but they also arouse interest from the general public and help educate people of all ages about the importance of our flowing waters and how we all can protect them!

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Planted Stream Bank Stabilization Sites 2018

Native Willows Take Hold

It is nice to have some old photos showing what some eroding stream banks looked like, before we planted them with native willows and trees. Fortunately, years later, you can take new photos of the same stream banks and use them in before and after sequence. This will accurately show the results of our efforts to stabilize these eroding stream banks. I have also taken video of some sites to be used later on, when we can demonstrate a full effect on video.

Above: This  eroding stream bank was planted with native willows the year before. You can see how sections of the stream banks sod are falling into the stream channel and this results in huge amounts of soil and clay smothering the streambed annually.

Above: This photo shows the same site four years later. The native willows have stabilized the eroding stream bank and this has halted silt loading into the stream channel. I have witnessed the streambed downstream cleaning, slowly, over the years. Areas that were once covered in silt and mud are now showing cobble and gravel beds.

The “Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program” is producing results over many kilometres of stream bank in our area of the watershed. This will insure that cleaner water enters the Bow River annually. Not to mention the improved fish and wildlife habitat that we have helped in creating. And it all looks natural in appearance!

Over the next few months, Bow Valley Habitat Development will start to organize another planting season for 2019. Next year’s planting program will mark the sixth year since this particular riparian restoration program was initiated.

Another Smoke Filled Day!

This morning the sky is filled with smoke and it is dark like dusk at 9:00 AM in the morning. It feels like the world is burning these days. We need some rain out in BC and around these parts as well. The creeks are flowing really low lately and the trout are deep into the cover, where they will stay until the flow increases. This must be a major disappointment to those that planned holidays this month.

Lately, I have been conducting some stream maintenance, removing some blockages and garbage from the stream channel on a few project streams. I like to do this in the late summer, before the instream activity period closes for such cleanup work. We have a few key spawning streams in our area and a little help in keeping the stream channel open for trout migration, helps significantly. The Jumpingpound Creek is a great example.

A few years ago, a few locals started to open up the rock dams that were being constructed on the lower end of the creek, near the mouth of the JP, on the Bow River. This allowed the rainbow trout to have clear passage up the system in the following spring migration. Not much work was required, just removing a few boulders or large rocks in the middle of the rock dams did the job.

Above: Rock dams built by individuals during the summer months, block trout migrations during their spawning runs. A small opening in the middle of the dam will allow trout to move upstream to reproduce.

I have mentioned in the magazine or on this blog that we have seen two successful spawning events over the last two seasons, so I suspect that local volunteers have helped in this success, just by taking the time to open up a few rock dams. Well done!

 

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Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program Update 2018

August Program Update:

So far this season, we have been lucky enough to get rain when we needed it, throughout the summer months. This year’s plantings are doing very good and I think our survival rates will be good by next springs thaw. With 9,700 plants from 271 volunteer hours, we should be in pretty good shape for the 2019 growing season. Thanks to the partnership support for 2018 and a total of 53 volunteers, it has been a great year!

Our plantings for the “Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program, over the past 5 years, since we started the program, are now showing up on the landscape. On over 30 kilometres of three local streams that are tributaries to the Bow River, there are new native willow and tree plants growing right along the water’s edge. The plants from the first plantings are now tall enough to be noticeable, from a distance.

This section of West Nose Creek was planted a year earlier, but the plants are too small to be noticeable just yet.

This is the same section of West Nose Creek, three years later. Now you can clearly see the new willow plants growing along the water’s edge. These new plants will provide shade and streambank stability; overhead cover for trout; they will constrict the flow in the channel and keep the streambed cleaner (free of silt) and deeper over time.

This is a closeup of the channel. You can see how the willows that we planted are now starting to create overhead cover along the water’s edge.

On some reaches of West Nose Creek, beavers have already started to build dams on sections that were planted in 2014 and 2015. This is ok with me, because it is all a part of the natural process and beavers have an important role to play in the health of a trout stream. The dammed areas will help in willow and tree development, by creating wetland areas where willows and trees will take root from seed.

These planted willows growing along West Nose Creek’s banks this spring were covered with catkins or flowering seed pods. The broadcasting of seeds from these and other native plants helps riparian restoration in a natural process.

In summary, the entire riparian restoration program is creating an excellent result, which will show vast improvement in the riparian health on many kilometres of stream bank, over time!

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Another Rainbow Trout Hatch Last Year

Another New Generation of Rainbow Trout Spotted on the Bow River

On some mornings I will walk down to the Bow River, very early in the new day, and watch the river for a while. If my timing is good, along with my luck, I will sometimes see trout rising on the surface. If there is small trout, they usually come to the surface near the shoreline, to feed on small floating midges, mayflies or caddis. This close observation is a good way to see if there are new rainbow trout in the system.

The only problem is; that you need to catch a few on a fly rod to actually see if they are rainbow trout or brown trout. This can be done by fishing a very small trout fly, in the correct manor. My preference is to use a small nymph pattern. Sometimes it is not an easy task, but that is fishing. There is a sudden burst of excited jubilation when you catch your first small trout of the season. This is often accompanied by a little laughter and contentment, knowing that there is a new generation of trout in the river.

In July of this year, while doing one of these morning walks, I discovered a few small trout breaking the surface of a quiet pocket of water along the shoreline on the Bow River. Later that morning I returned with my fly rod and a good selection of small nymph patterns. The flies ranged in size from size 20 to 14, but it was the minus 16’s that I would fish on that outing. Just about anything that was medium to dark in color usually works, and there is always the possibility of a larger trout taking your pattern.

On that July morning I did manage to capture a small rainbow trout on my trout fly. This was great news for us fly fisher’s that cast on this local reach of the river. Last year, I also captured some small rainbows from a hatch that occurred the year before, in 2016. So this latest trout confirms that we had two rainbow trout hatches in 2016 and 2017. Much better than previous years, when it was hard to find a small rainbow trout on the Bow, from any hatching that happened in 2014 and 2015.

This is the small rainbow trout that I captured in late July of 2018.

I know that there are more rainbow trout in the river than the one that I fooled into taking my fly, because I had a few other hits by trout that were too small to be caught on my fly pattern. Bottom line; it is really great to see that the Jumpingpound Creek strain of rainbow trout are still holding on, despite the whirling disease infestation.

Does It – Or Doesn’t it?

Every time I catch a small rainbow trout these days, I wonder it this is the one that has a whirling disease resistance? The whirling disease resistance topic is growing in popularity, now that some strains of rainbow trout are showing that they can fight the outbreaks of this new threat to our trout fishery.

Recently, I caught a small rainbow trout near the mouth of Bighill Creek and discovered a small lesion on its side. I don’t know if this was signs of the whirling disease parasites attacking the trout or not. Whirling disease spores attack a rainbow trout thru its skin, so this may be a possibility. In any case, my first thought was is this trout developing a resistance to the disease. I safely release the trout back into the creek.

You can see a small lesion on the side of this juvenile rainbow trout. This trout seemed to be very healthy, other than the mark on its side.

My next post will be a brief report on the plants from this year’s “Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program”. Enjoy your summer!


 

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Great Growing Season – So Far!

Willows Growing Fast

I have visited all of the 2018 planting sites to inspect our 2018 crop of 9,700 native willows and trees. The new plants that have been planted along the three area streams are doing great. It has been a really good growing season so far, with rain coming at just the right time throughout the spring and early summer. My trips to inspect the sites has also given me the opportunity to see how previously planted crops are growing. Things are looking pretty good for past plantings and we are definitely making a positive impact along the local streams.

Above: These willows growing right along the water’s edge on West Nose Creek in Calgary, are doing very well. They were planted last season and the new willows are taking to the soil along the steep banks of West Nose. In a few more years they will provide some well needed cover over the creek.

I am especially excited about our planting work on eroding stream banks. The new willows are creating ideal stability on the once sliding soil on the outside of oxbows in the streams. Plants from our first few years of planting are now providing excellent trout habitat as well as keeping the soil from sliding into the stream channel. The result is a cleaner streambed and more food for more trout.

Above: The native willows that were planted on the outside of this stream bank in 2015, are now growing out and over the stream channel, providing overhead cover for resident trout.

This is the fifth year of the Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program. So far we are making good headway with our riparian planting work. Thanks to our partners and volunteers that are planting thousands of native willows and trees annually, over many kilometres of stream bank. The three streams in the program are Nose Creek, West Nose Creek and Bighill Creek.

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Brown Trout Moving Up West Nose Creek

2018 Angling Survey Report – West Nose Creek, Calgary

Part of my work on West Nose Creek includes conducting angling surveys to monitor trout migration upstream, over time. I am very pleased to report that recently I captured and released a brown trout that was located over 10 kilometres upstream of the confluence with Nose Creek. This capture was made over a kilometre further upstream than the trout that I caught last season.

Above: This 10 inch brown trout was caught and released on West Nose Creek, over 10 kilometres up the stream, from Nose Creek.

The trout fought an amazing battle, before I managed to net the fish. After a quick two photos, the trout was safely release back into the stream. A very healthy specimen that looked like it was well fed. I also believe that the trout was a native West Nose Creek brown trout, because it was captured close to a known spawning area on the creek. This fish really made my day and confirmed the importance of conducting spawning and angling surveys to monitor the recovery of the trout fishery on West Nose Creek.

Before you dash off to fish the creek, be aware that it takes many hours of angling to capture a resident brown trout on West Nose Creek. Best leave the stream alone for now, so that it can recover over time. My angling surveys are done strictly for scientific purpose and to document the trout recovery over time. The signs of ongoing recovery and an increase in both spawning activity and trout populations is what helps motivate me personally, for our ongoing riparian recovery program. The habitat that we create over the years, by planting native willows and trees, will add to the speed of the trout recovery program.

All of the new discoveries on West Nose Creek, such as spawning and trout distribution are now being documented and this information is being shared with the City of Calgary. This info is important in establishing protective measures to enhance the water quality and health of the riparian zone, which is all good for future trout populations.

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Willow Plants Are Now Providing Fish Habitat

More Fish Habitat on Local Streams

The native willows and trees that were first planted as part of the “Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program” are now large enough to make a significant difference as fish habitat. They were planted along the stream banks where they would create overhead cover, both above and below the surface of the stream. It took four years to accomplish this, but in some areas the growth was a little faster than in other areas on the stream channel.

Above: You can see how these willows are growing out and over the surface of West Nose Creek in Calgary, where there is a small population of brown trout. The more fish habitat that we can create thru this willow and tree planting, the more trout there will be in the creek for the future years to come. There are loads of other benefits, such as improving water quality, constricting the flow so that silt is cleaned off the bottom of the streambed and so on.

Above: On some areas of the creek, the willow growth is thick along the water’s edge. This is exactly what we wanted as an end result in this planting program. Now we can watch these willows and trees grow significantly over the years. Upper reaches of the West Nose Creek will be restored enough to support a trout population, so we can expand the existing trout holding water’s of West Nose Creek, over time. Bow Valley Habitat Development has already identified and mapped potential spawning areas further up the creek that are not presently being utilized. I personally expect this to change in the future, as the brown trout slowly start to migrate and populated the upper reaches of the creek.

June Issue of Stream Tender Magazine

Early this morning I uploaded the June issue of Stream Tender Magazine. The computer problems that I encountered in May delayed the publication for some time this spring. The June issue is also smaller in size than the normal quarterly issue. Please check it out at: http://magazine.streamtender.com or use this link:

Stream Tender Magazine

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2018 Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program Completed

Last Planting of the Season

On June 5th, the ATCO group of volunteers completed the final riparian planting of the season on West Nose Creek, in the City of Calgary. A team of nine ATCO volunteers and one BVHD volunteer planted a total of 300 native willow and tree plants, capping the season total of over 9,500 plants along the three streams in the program. It was a perfect day, not too hot and with a gentle breeze to help keep the bugs at bay.

The overcast weather is also ideal for the plants, reducing the planting shock and helping get them off to a good start in the prime of growing season. The ground was still moist from a recent rain event, so this helped out by making the job a little easier as well. A small group punched holes into the soft ground and marked the holes with flagging, to keep the planters  busy with getting the fragile plants into the soil.

The plants are already topped with good leaf growth and small root development, so this will help get them off to a good start, once in the ground and watered. The entire process of planting is very fast and efficient for a volunteer group with limited experience in planting willows and trees. Bow Valley Habitat Development first designed the planting system in 1998 and BVHD has since been modifying it to make it easier for volunteers. I think we are close to having perfect this easy planting system. Small improvements over the years have made the technique easier and better for the native willows and trees.

The group took a water break mid-point thru the planting, which was a good opportunity to discuss the long term benefits and goals of the riparian recovery program on West Nose Creek. It is important not to overwork your volunteers and keep the event an enjoyable experience. I think we accomplished this, judging by the conversation and smiling faces.

Stream Tender Magazine – Late Release This June

A computer and software problem has delayed the release of the June issue of “Stream Tender Magazine”. However, we are back on track and it should be ready before the end of the month. Having a crashed system right in the middle of the planting season was unfortunate luck this spring, but that is just the way it goes sometimes. For those faithful readers of the publication, please accept my apologies. – Guy Woods

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2018 Riparian Planting Season is Well Underway

Volunteers Dig In

This past month has been a busy one for both volunteer planting and other spring stream activities. Recently, volunteers from CW Perry Middle School and Friends of Nose Creek all chipped in to help plant hundreds of native willow and tree plants along Nose Creek and West Nose Creek. So far, we have approximately 6,500 plants in the stream banks. This makes the 2018 Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program another super success story for its fifth year now.

The Friends of Nose Creek put in a couple of days of planting on the 12th and 13th of May.

The conditions for planting this May have been outstanding, with plenty of moisture in the ground along the streams. A few good rains were very helpful in our program. It was a lot of fun having the school group from the City of Airdrie out to do another planting this spring. The kids really did a find job and they seem to have a real keen interest in our program and the long term benefits yet to be realized.

The school group takes a minute from their planting to pose for the cameras.

As you can see from the photo above, the Nose Creek really needs a make over. There are no mature willows and trees along the stretch that we have been planting on. This will change in future years to come. The kids will witness the largest transformation of Nose Creek during their lifetimes. Hopefully for the better.

 

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Another Year of Trout on the Lower Reach

Millennium Creek’s Lower Spawning Beds

This is the second year that I have spotted juvenile trout on the lower reach of Mill. Crk. The presence of the newly hatched trout confirms once again that there is a successful incubation on the lower spawning beds. I have also confirmed a trout hatch on some upper creek spawning habitat, in channel, below the spawning channel that was constructed in 2010. Having trout hatching in these two other spawning habitats is good news for the creek’s future and the trout populations in year’s to come.

Above: This small young of the year – brook trout, was holding on habitat in the lower reach of Millennium Creek.

All of the juvenile trout that have hatched so far this year on Mill. Crk. are free from whirling disease symptoms. I observed no deformities on any of the juvenile trout that I have spotted in the creek. Many of the trout on the lower reach of Mill. Crk. will soon migrate down into the water’s of Bighill Creek, helping to re-populate the main-stem and revitalizing the sport fishery.

Spring Melt Has Come Fast

At first I thought that it would be a long cold spring this year, but the melt started to happen fast, mid April. The high flowing water in some local streams will help to thaw the ground frost along the creeks, so we can get to planting soon. This year’s riparian planting program is a big one, with over 9,000 plants reading to be planted.

Above: This photo of Bighill Creek was taken just past the mid-point of April. The high flows are quickly melting the bank ice and cleaning out the stream-bed.

Nice to finally experience some great spring weather, after the big freeze.

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2018 Riparian Planting Season – Not Far Off

Still Snow in the Timber

Here we are, a few days away from April, and there is still lots of snow in the timber and willow along our local streams. The fact that snow accumulates in the the willows and trees is good for a slow run-off during the spring months. This is one more of the many benefits of a healthy riparian zone along our trout streams. There will still be ice and crusty snow well into April this year, with low lying areas saturated with good moisture. I am hoping for a good boost to our local water table, and good spring flows well into the summer months.

Right now, Millennium Creek is flowing as high as I have ever seen it, for this time in the spring. Even when it was still late winter, the spring water flow was substantial. All of the accumulated snow must have an influence on this high volume of water coming out of the ground. Maybe during some of the warmer days, when there was snow melt, some of the melted water was making its way down into our sub-terrainian aquifer, recharging the ground water table.

Above: This photo of Millennium Creek was taken in the middle of March 2018.

I am looking forward to starting the riparian planting program for this year’s “Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program”. So far we have over 9,000 native willows and trees growing for this springs planting program. It will be another great season for the program, so I am excited to get after it.

The only concern that I have is the threat of major flooding on the three stream systems in the program. With the high amount of snow fall this winter, we could see a wet spring and summer, with plenty of freshets. This is always a threat to any riparian recovery planting program. If a flood comes right after the planting season, the new plants are vulnerable.

I feel confident about this year’s planting program, so we will take it as it comes.

Still Tying Trout Flies

With all of the snow and cold weather going into spring, it is hard to say away from the fly tying station. I managed to get plenty of fly tying in this winter and lately, I have been working on some caddis fly pupa patterns. These are often referred to as caddis nymphs, but in true form they are pupa patterns. The caddis fly transforms from a larva to a pupa, then hatches as an adult, so they are not similar to a May fly, which goes thru a nymph life stage, before it hatches.

The easiest way to determine if the fly pattern is a pupa, is that it does not have a tail tied in. Sometimes a fly tier will tie in a tailing shuck on the back of the pupa fly pattern, but the pupa does not have a tail, like a mayfly nymph does. The wing cases are usually tied in on both sides of the fly pattern, but for me, I usually don’t bother with tying in the wing cases. My trout don’t seem to mind about this deficiency in my own fly patterns.

Above: This brown caddis pupa imitation that I tied, does not have wing cases tied in along the sides of the thorax. The trout don’t seem to mind the absent wing case.

The caddis pupa is a strong swimmer and it sparkles in the water, due to the gases trapped in its abdomen during its transformation from a larva to an adult caddis fly.

Remember: The New 2018 Fishing License is Required by April 1st, 2018. Don’t forget!

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