Brook Trout Spawning

Something that I do every fall, is watch trout spawn, while I conduct spawning surveys. The brown trout and brook trout are busy in the fall, because it is the time for procreation. The trout will first migrate to their spawning beds and then the courtship begins. Multiple males will compete to earn the right to spawn, the big guys usually win this competition. Then the process of spawning can begin.

The female, who has already dug a redd or nest in the gravel, is in no hurry to make her final decision, so some times the larger male will continue to nudge her to get her interested in depositing her eggs. The large males may have to continue to fight off any other males that don’t know when to give up. It is a simple process, but very important to the survival of the trout. Once the eggs have been deposited in the nest, the female will fan gravel over the eggs.

The female may guard the nest for a bit and then return to the creek or river from where it came. The male brook trout will stick around and wait for any other females that move into position and start to excavate their depression in the gravel. Sometimes, if no females show up, the males will move further upstream to check out what is happening at any other spawning bed that exists in the same stream. The fish have great sense of smell, and they can pick up the scent of any other fish, further upstream. Yes, fish have nostrils, but their smells are scents in the flowing water.

Starting To See The Change

It was 2014 when the Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program first started and now the effects of planting native willows and trees is becoming more apparent on lots of stream banks, in our area. Some of the earlier plantings are now getting larger and the more recent plantings are coming along very nicely. It is always good to have a diverse selection of year classes as well as a good variety of native plants, to emulate what happens in nature. In the fall, the yellow leaves of the willows makes them stand out along the creeks.

This is a natural length of stream bank that was once void of native willows, now it is growing into a more healthy looking trout stream. The stream bank erosion sites are where most of the planting has occurred, in a more densely planted crop on some slopes, but these eroding stream banks will produce the largest benefit in the shortest period of time.
In a more recent planting site, on an eroding stream bank, you can now see the new willow plants growing along the toe of the slope, where they will do the most good. As time passes, more willows will be planted upslope of the first crop. The stream bank was almost pure clay, so some organics will help in future plantings. This organics comes from dead willow leaves and grasses that grow annually on the base of the slope.

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