It Takes Time

The growth of the planted willows is slow, and it will take years for a noticeable change is witnessed. The willows were planted along the creeks in areas where no willows were growing, so there is a reason for the slow growth. But if you watch these planted sites closely, like I do, you will see progress. The impacts of beavers and muskrats is far worse than I could have predicted. This will definitely impact the visual, above ground growth, but the plants are still there. There root networks are growing and the seed dispursement is all happening now.

These willows along the stream bank were planted. The site received its first planting in 2015, and more plantings since then have resulted in a good crop of native plants growing on this site. The creek is West Nose Creek and there are wild reproducing brown trout in this stream. There is also natural successful spawning in West Nose Creek. The degree of success in reproduction is yet to be determined. However, one juvenile trout that hatched on the creek was photographed, it was 80mm in length.

It is easier sometimes, to look at the reflection in the water, to see the extent of willow planting that has occurred. This way, you get a better idea of how the native willows are now hanging out over the surface of the stream. Just take some time and look at the photo.

Once these willows shown in the photo grow, they will provide lots of good overhead cover for the resident wild trout. Now, if you look at the photo and imagine what the sight would look like when there are tall mature willows growing along the creek. Even in a few more years, can you imagine the cover provided by the willows along the water’s edge. Now, if you imagen a number of rising trout in the late evening, and you are fishing a dry fly to the trout holding close to the willows on the far bank. Do you see where I am heading with this conversation?

For now, we just have to watch the plants grow and the trout population increase. Maybe then, the regional fisheries biologists will take a shine to the creek. However, don’t hold your breath, for now. Just watch as the creek transforms itself. Fortunately, nowadays the creek is safe from livestock and brush fires. The West Nose Creek is safely guarded by a fire station, right along the creek, in the same area where we plant. The riparian zone that we are working on, is only tight to the stream bank and only a few metres back in some places, so we are not creating an area that would be vulnerable to fires.

Fly fishers can identify with the smell of wolf willow, while walking the stream banks of local trout streams. The color of the leaves on this native willow is a dead giveaway.

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