• The 1,000 adults get moved

    A very long four days, working with the Ontario Steelheaders with our annual spring adult steelhead trap and transport program on Ontario's Saugeen River. We trap 1,000 pre-spawn adults at Denny's Dam and drive and trailer them 50 miles upriver to the Beatty Saugeen and it's great spawning waters. We only lower the trap twice a day for only an hour and trap an average approximately of 500 plus fish a day in the two lifts. That meant the trap was only down for two hours and on swim through completely open for the other 22 hours of each day. We can only handle 50 fish in each of the 3 trailers a trip. It took a little more than five days to capture the thousand adults. Adults average 7 pounds plus, but we always see fish over 15 pounds. Lots of tough work on the boys and their trucks. The fish are driven to the Beatty and tubed into the stream.

    Now think hard about this..the days I was up there the was ice out from the river mouth thick every day. We would still get around or over 200 adults each time we only put the trap down for an hour. My thought is that there were plenty of fish in the river. They were still pouring in under the ice at the mouth. And they were simply hell bent for leather to get up and through the dam. I checked Walkerton and there were all kinds of fish at the dam as well

    Next up, we stock 50,000 yearling smolt next week. The Saugeen now see runs of 40,000-50,000 adults yearly due to volunteer efforts. Some of us are getting a little old for this type of workout

    Johnny Campbell and Jesse Pentingall playing with a netful before they go down the tube into the Beatty

    these were actually small sizes in the one tanker than what we were getting

    a new release tube has been installed so we can just back up now to the river and slide them in

    we can only make to trips to the river a day with the 3 trailers. One lift would take place around 9 am with 50 fish going into each of the three trailers. the second trip would see the trap go down for an hour at 11am and lifted at noon for the start of the second trip. It takes time to load, drive up to the Beatty, empty and drive back to Southampton...it's a long day

    Anyways, as far as I'm concerned the average size is up from last year and we had plenty over 10 pounds and one that topped out at just over 16 pounds while I was there.

    This was just an average size

    I would still love and want to see another fishway added to the Maple Hill dam and a set of boards installed across the top to increase water flow all year through the fishways. The Walkerton dam breach should be expanded to allow all year passage there as well. The fish have to get to the Beatty and back down at all times to really get natural self-sustaining reproduction . Once that happens and there will be no worries about trailering or even stocking.

    This trailering program has been going on by the Steelheaders for decades and was doubled in size to 1,000 adults in the spring and 500 adults in the fall at the start of the new program a decade ago....It's one hell of a lot of work for a few guys.

    The MNRF will be doing a number of studies on natural reproduction throughout the Beatty in a few years and we've agreed to cease the transfers in two years for a period of five years while the study goes on. Remember what I said about the Maple Hill dam...it still needs that third fishway and the boards to work properly.

    The Lake Huron Fishing Club will still stock the 50,000 yearling smolt annually from the Kincardine and Port Elgin fish hatchery with the assistance of our club's three stocking trailers and that is accounting for a very large part of the returning fish. As in the past the Ontario Steelheaders and Lake Huron Fishing Club will work hand in hand in co-operation with the MNRF.

    This fishery is what it is today, thanks to the efforts of the Ontario Steelheaders and the Lake Huron Fishing Club. If their work ever stops, so goes your fishery.

    And I still can't believe that the majority of anglers are not taking advantage of the miles of water between Dennys and Walkerton during the open season even today....or the fact that the town councillors in just about every municipality in both counties does not know the value and importance of this fishery.
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