Open Water Flows Late Into Season

Bighill Creek Still Free of Ice in Spots

This year, the Bighill Creek is still open and flowing in some spots, this late into December. I suspect that the early snow which helped recharge the ground water table in September, may have something to do with this. Warmer spring water upwellings will help keep the ice free from the surface on some riffle areas during cold snaps. Usually, by this time in the late part of December, the creek would be iced over in its entirety. Other areas where there are no ground springs warming the main channel of Bighill Creek, the channel is iced over for the winter.

Above: This is what the Bighill Creek looks like on December 20th this year, in some spots. Note the good late season flows in the creek. The BH Creek has also been flowing clean this fall, which will be good for the trout eggs, now buried and incubating in the stream’s gravel spawning beds.

Other areas of lower gradient and deep water, such as beaver dams, are now frozen with a covering of thickening ice. These iced over areas will provide good wintering habitat for the stream’s trout population. Hopefully, the resident trout will winter over in good health and be ready for the 2019 open water season. The above average snowfall this September and October will insure good flows into the spring.

Above: This shows a deeper run, with good ice cover this December. You can see the newly planted willows from our riparian enhancement program, now growing well along the streambanks.

I am looking forward to getting some good photos of our planted willows and trees this upcoming season. The 2019 season will be the fifth year of annual growth for the willows planted during the first year of the “Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program” in 2014, and those plants should stand out tall enough on the stream banks to provide a few good photos.

 

About Guy Woods

I am Director of Bow Valley Habitat Development, based in the Town of Cochrane, Alberta, Canada. I love to fly fish and it is this past time that prompted me to get involved in the field of riparian and fish habitat enhancement. I have been working in this pursuit for over 40 years!
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