Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program – July 2017 Update

Great Growing Season – So Far.

Here it is, mid-July has past and the growing season draws to an end. The good news is that our crop of native willows and trees are in great shape at this point in time. We have received rain at the right time to keep the plants growing fast this season. Throughout the spring and summer, I have visited the planting sites from this year’s program on West Nose, Nose and Bighill Creeks and they are all doing well.

During the spring planting program, a total of just over 7,800 plants were put in the ground along the stream banks of all three streams in the program. There are more plants yet to be planted this year, in the fall program, so we will definitely break the 8,000 mark by the time the first snow flies. Another great year and it is not over yet. The key to great survival by the first frost, will be dependent on enough rain thru the later part of the summer months, during the typical dry period.

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Left Photo: This sandbar willow was planted along West Nose Creek, in Calgary, in the first week of May and the photo to the left was taken mid-July this year. Sandbar willow is an ideal plant for developing dense roots and spreading out along the stream bank. It forms a clonal colony from its network of roots. The willow plant is also well equipped to handle heavy beaver grazing, once it has established a thicket. The plant is a good nitrogen fixer and it will help enrich the soil along the creeks.

Great growth rates during the growing season, for our willow and tree crop, will help insure a better survival rate come next spring. The majority of spring planting was completed by the end of May this year, so the plants definitely had a head start to the growing season. When they were planted, the plants already had both root and top development; this was the key to advanced growth this spring.

Great Rainbow Trout Hatch on the JP Creek in 2016

This July, thousands of juvenile rainbow trout were observed on the Bow River, in the Town of Cochrane. The small trout were present as a result of a successful spawn and hatch during the 2016 spring spawning season on Jumpingpound Creek.

I first spotted rising juvenile trout in the Bow River, in the first week of July, while doing an early morning walk down to the river. In order to confirm that they were rainbow trout, I decided to conduct an angling survey a few days later. I would need to use a small trout fly pattern to catch such tiny trout, but this is something that I have done before and it is actually good fun.

After countless numbers of small trout hitting my fly pattern and some briefly being hooked, I did manage to hook a number of juvenile rainbow trout and some brown trout while conducting my angling survey. This was great news to report when I had landed and identified both juvenile trout species, while fly fishing the river. It not only confirmed a successful spawn and hatch of rainbow trout in 2016, but I was also able to confirm successful reproduction of brown trout as well. Good news for the future of the fishery.DSCF1691 cropped

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Left Photo: This small rainbow trout was from the 2016 spawning event on the Jumpingpound Creek. There were hundreds of them in the reach of the Bow River that I was fishing in early July this year. It has been a few years since the last successful rainbow trout hatch on the JP Creek, so seeing a new generation present, is great.DSCF1693 cropped

Right Photo: This is a Juvenile brown trout
DSCF1693 cropped is from either the Bighill Creek spawning or a known spawning habitat in the our reach of the Bow River. It is about time I had some good news to report about our reach of the Bow River’s fishery. Especially after the reported whirling disease outbreak in the Bow River, this past year. None of the trout showed signs of the disease.

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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