Expecting A Good Run-off and Stream Cleaning

Lots of Snow Means High Spring Flows

It is mid-February and already we have a good base of snow developing in the Bow Valley Corridor. If this continues and we have enough cold weather to maintain the snow pack until spring, we should see a good run-off on area streams. Many people are still afraid of flood events, such as the one we had in 2013, but a good run-off does not necessarily mean a damaging flood event. Spring run-offs are common on all streams, so having them happen every now and then is quite normal.

We haven’t had a good run-off on the Bighill Creek for a few years, so hopefully this spring we will see one. The high flow events are good for trout streams. The fast flowing, high volume of water scours out pool habitats and creates deep runs, undercuts and pocket pool habitats for trout. The movement of gravel on the stream bed creates good spawning habitats and enhances invertebrate habitat, which means more food for trout. This transformation helps to maintain healthy trout streams, so for us fly fisher’s it is good to see from time to time.

The flows on Millennium Creek were good all winter and presently the snow is building up along the stream banks on the small feeder spring creek. The snow in the trees and willows will last longer into spring, if we don’t get a prolonged Chinook or two.

The high flow is good for the newly hatched brook trout that are now present in the creek. Many of them will end up in the Bighill Creek before too long, so this is good to see. More water, more trout.

I will be closely watching both Ranch House Spring Creek and the Upper Spring Creek for signs of a trout hatch this late winter and early spring. It is expected that there will also be a successful brook trout hatch on these feeder springs. It is hard to monitor the main-stem of the Bighill Creek for a trout hatch, but I am hoping that the brown trout eggs that were spawned last fall will successfully hatch this spring. Meaning; I hope that some of the eggs are still alive and incubating. The fall and winter flows ran clear this year, so chances of this are pretty good.

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 30 years!
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