CHINOOK VS STEELHEAD
JIM WADAS <Send E-Mail> -- Tuesday, 1 5 01, at 4:38 p.m.

ON APRIL 28/01 I OBSERVED MANY FRY IN A TRIBUTARY OF THE NOTTAWASAGA WHICH I PRESUMED WERE SALMON. THE RUNS OF STEELHEAD INTO THIS RIVER HAVE DECLINED CONSIDERABLY SINCE THE 70'S. COULD THIS BE DUE TO THE IMPACT OF THE MUCH LARGER SALMON FRY COMPETING FOR BOTH FOOD AND SHELTER. AS A FISHERMAN, WHAT'S YOUR VIEW? I KNOW BOTH ARE INTRODUCED SPECIES AND SEEM TO HAVE OVERTAKEN THE BROOKTROUT AS A GAME FISH. I RARELY CATCH SPECKS IN THIS LARGER RIVER NOW ALTHOUGH THEY WERE COMMON 25 TO 30 YEARS AGO. ANY INFO OR INSIGHT WOULD BE APPRECIATED. THANKS. JIM



Grant! Re: CHINOOK VS STEELHEAD
Grant Ferris <Send E-Mail> -- Tuesday, 1 5 01, at 6:26 p.m.

This is a timely and relevant question for today's Great Lakes tributary fish

If the fry were any bigger than tiny polliwogs on April 28, they likely were chinook fry. In a few weeks you will see steelhead fry if you look in the right places but they are very small indeed until early summer. The chinook salmon fry that hatched out from last fall's eggs however will be smolting soon and really have little effect on the steelhead fry which stay in the river much longer, maybe until next year at this time. I've worked the Port Elgin hatchery every Sunday night for the last six years as a volunteer and it is amazing how fast chinook grow and how soon they are ready to smolt (head back to the lake or ocean) but they smolt and migrate while still too small to compete much with resident river trout.

On the other hand, I know how upsetting it is not to see brook trout or even brown trout in some of the Nottawasaga tributaries that were so good back in the fifties when I first fished there.

Perhaps we should be looking at other reasons for the disappearance of our native trout. Most farms have installed drainage tiles in their fields since those tributaries were filled with brookies and the rapidity of flooding after a rainstorm has transformed the hydraulics of many streams. I carry a thermometer with me while river fishing and it is a real eye-opener to see how warm some of those former cold-water streams get in the summer due to a lack of cover and shade. Some rainbows and browns can survive while brookies are killed the first warm day but if the temperature stays up overnight, even the hardiest trout cannot survive. By the time this happens to fish living in the river, chinooks are long gone to the big lake.

With cohos it's different story but as far as I know there is only one stream around where cohos reproduce naturally and because artificially raised coho must be kept for a couple of years in a hatchery, the cost has ensured no clubs will take them on.

Many of the outdoor clubs have become aware of the summer temperature problem and thanks to studies done last year by Henderson and Paddon Environmental Engineers of Owen Sound, we have found that streams like the Bighead River are facing high summer temperatures as well. The solutions appears to be that we need to plant more trees along our waterways to keep temperatures down and to add fences to protect the trees and banks from cattle.

The problem is complex and since it took fifty years to create the problem, it won't be solved overnight but at least if we start now our kids or grandkids might have somewhere to fish.