Willows and New Trout – A Good Start to the New Year

Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program 2018

The 2018 riparian planting program is off to a super good start, so far this year. We already have enough partnership support for the planting of over 7,100 native willows and trees, starting in the spring. Inter Pipeline came thru in a big way this year with enough support to see the planting of 4,800 plants. To have this much support, this early in the new year is fantastic. Bow Valley Habitat Development will get busy with collecting cuttings and getting them started for spring, soon.

The three main streams in the riparian planting program are Bighill Creek, Nose Creek and West Nose Creek. There are a few small tributaries on the Bighill Creek that are also included. The goal for this year’s program is to plant 10,000 or more native plants, using volunteer support to get the job done. So far we have planted over 50,000 (almost 60,000) native willows and trees.

2018 Trout Hatch

This year’s brook trout hatch on Millennium Creek began in the middle of the month of January this year. On my first trip to inspect the spawning habitats, I didn’t see any new trout, but a few days later, I spotted the first newly hatched brook trout of the year. This experience of finding new young trout for our Bighill Creek is always a great mid-winter boost and this year was no different. When you spot the first trout of the new year, it lifts your spirits and shows real positive hope for the future of the fishery.

Since that first sighting, I have wondered down to the Millennium Creek a few times and observed more young fish each trip. It is still a little early to say that we are seeing a great hatch for 2018, but at least we can rest assured that there will be more young trout in the creek this year. On each outing to the stream’s spawning habitats, I keep a sharp eye on the lookout for any signs of trout infected with whirling disease. So far, things look pretty good in that aspect. However, the young trout are very vulnerable and will be for some time yet.

Above: This recent photo shows one of the first young brook trout larvae that I spotted on Millennium Creek. The trout fry was content, feeding on microscopic morsels that were drifting on the surface above. 

Winter Fly Tying – Dry Flies

Unlike previous winters, this year I decided to concentrate specifically on dry flies, at least this was the case so far this winter. I have been busy with some other pastimes, so I wanted spend what time I did have on bolstering up my stock of dry flies. There were a number of dry fly patterns that I had been thinking about tying up and this has been put off for too long. The first two patterns that I would work on during the cold days of winter were the “Tom Thumb” and some “Tent Wing Caddis” dry flies.

The tent wing caddis dry flies are very well known as an effective dry fly imitation for the caddis fly adults, as they drift down the surface and trout readily take them in sips and gulps. The Tom Thumb is also an adult caddis fly imitation, with an upright wing to imitate a large caddis, drying its wings off, before it takes flight. The Tom Thumb was made popular on BC trout lakes, many years ago. Today, the Tom Thumb still rules as one of the most popular lake patterns for still water trout, out west.

Tent wing caddis are tied with wing quill off of goose, duck, turkey and various other birds. Two of the more popular tent wing dry flies are the “Henryville Special” and the “King’s River Caddis”. The King’s River made the cover page of one of Dave Hugh’s fly tying books. The Henryville Special has long been a local favorite for Bow River Caddis fly hatches. Other tent wing patterns are great for selective trout feeding frenzies on many local waters. The trout like the long slender tent wing caddis, tied from feather quill, even on very small hook sizes.


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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