From the President’s Desk
Most of us are looking at our last few days on the river, and maybe gearing up for steelheading. Friends of the Grand is back into its working mode after a summer break. We're excited about what's going down. Here's what we have on the agenda.
Before the snow flies, we will be working on the Trestle access off County Rd. 18 between Fergus and Elora. Through the good offices of the County of Wellington (the Museum staff at Aboyne), we have a go-ahead for a set of steel stairs to make things easier going down that cliff.
The existing stairs constructed out of railway ties have done the job for a few seasons, but we knew from the start that their life was limited. The steel stairs, similar to the ones installed at Inverhaugh and 2nd Line, West Garafraxa , will be safer, so they address a liability issue for FOGR and the landowners. The Ministry of Natural Resources helped fund this work.
Still no word from the township on the construction at the Twin Bridges ( Wilson 's Flats or 8th Line of the old Pilkington Township ). We were expecting to see survey stakes out this summer. When this work is finished, the old bridge will have been replaced and the road elevated by several metres.
Raising the road level will mean the road will not be flooded during the spring melt. But it would also mean parking problems for anglers, canoeists and other recreationists. You'd have to scramble down a steep bank after parking your vehicle on an awkward curve on an 80-km/h road. It used to be a fast, back-country route from Elmira to Guelph .
FOGR interceded during the consultation process and suggested a parking lot. This is an important recreational asset for the community of Centre Wellington and a serious potential traffic hazard was being created. Happily, the Township of Centre Wellington accepted this suggestion and incorporated off-road parking with a ramp up to the road.
FOGR committed to help defray some costs associated with this work through cash and in-kind contributions.
PIT Tag Study
Read about the PIT tag study on page 3. This is an exciting breakthrough in technology with potential to reveal new information on post-stocking dispersal, overwintering locations, spawning migration and migration to coldwater refugia. It's also yet another example of FOGR's support of cutting-edge research that has the potential to positively affect our fishery and many others.
I look forward to seeing you at our Fall Gathering (see the back page for details).
Larry R. McGratton
The way things are going
A law unveiled in Scotland in June calls for Scotsmen to get licences for their sporrans. If you have a sporran made since 1994 that uses badger or seal fur, popular materials for these items of traditional dress, then you could be in trouble if you can't produce a licence.
That conjures up visions of the poor police officer who stops a kilted pedestrian and demands to see his sporran licence.
The intent of the law is to protect threatened or endangered species, and Mr. Badger is the poster boy of the campaign to protect animals throughout the U.K. countryside.
For years they have been hunted in rural areas where the badger is blamed for raiding chicken coops and other forms of vandalism. The hunts are social affairs with a stream of hunters aided by dogs that locate a badger's underground sett. The hunters get out the shovels and so endeth the poor bloody badger.
Clad in wax jackets and green rubber boots, they follow their hounds just like their richer brethren with their pink coats, gorgeous horses and upper middle class accents.
Other protected animals include porpoises, dolphins, lynx, wildcats and deer.
The law also applies to fishing flies. So sending flies to your Scottish brother-in-law could get him into a mess of trouble if you've used seal-fur dubbing, deer hair or any like exotic materials.
Maybe you can just send him a plastic sporran instead.
Ernie makes it to the big time
Elora's own Ernie Kalwa was a member of the Canadian team competing at this year's fly-fishing world championship in Kemi , Finland , in June.
Traditionally, this event has been dominated by the European teams, and this year was no exception. France finished first overall, with the Czechs second and Finland third. One hundred and seventeen competitors in 22 teams attended the event.
Sadly the Canadians came in last in the team scoring; Ernie managed a double digit finish, which is heady stuff competing at this level against teams that are into competitive fishing as a national pastime.
Competitive fishing has never really taken hold over here unless it involved sparkle-finished bass boats, mega outboards and 30-foot rooster tails. Oh, and bass as well. The only rooster tails we see are from my fly when I try a drag-free drift.
Congratulations, Ernie! Great effort.
U.S. outdoor recreation survey numbers issued
These are big numbers: more than 87 million Americans over 16 fished, hunted or observed wildlife in 2006.
And how much did they spend? Even bigger numbers: $120 billion.
As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service news release boasted, that's more than they spent on all spectator sports, movies, golf, country clubs, amusement parks and arcades – combined!
More numbers: 30 million Americans fished, and spent $41 billion doing it. Five per cent (12.5 million) hunted and spent $41 billion. Wildlife observers — birdwatchers, etc. — spent $45 billion pursuing their interest — all 71 million of them.
However, the number of anglers is dropping – down to 30 million from 34.1 million in 2001. Anglers' spending habits remain steady, although reduced from levels 10 years ago. The USFWS said, “While overall spending—including trips, fishing equipment, special equipment and other related items—was flat from 2001 to 2006, spending on fishing equipment such as rods and reels and travel-related items such as food and lodging were up.”
Over the last decade, hunting has declined by 10 per cent. Spending has also gone down, but sales of rifles and ammo have gone up 3 per cent.
Now tell your wife that you have to keep up your end by buying more rods and reels so the national average is maintained.
Canada does a similar survey every five years, and it usually shows similar trends. The Year 2000 survey found $2.4 billion was spent on fishing services. Factor in boats, trucks intended for fishing trips and so on, and you're up to $4.3 billion.
Ontario , by the way, has 814,887 active anglers out of a national total of 2.69 million.
Laurier/FOGR study helps find where fish live
Laurier biology student Jill Hanna began a pilot study to explore the use of passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags to monitor the movement of brown trout in the Grand River tailwater.
With logistical, financial, and volunteer support from Friends of the Grand River (FOGR), the Isaac Walton Fly Fishing Club, and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Jill has pursued a combination of laboratory and field work.
In Jill's study, 12-mm-long (1/2”) PIT tags used were injected into the abdominal cavity of the anaesthetized fish using a special syringe. Unlike larger, much more expensive radio and satellite tags, PIT tags do not require a battery, and have a life expectancy of several years. As Jill's work and other studies have shown, fish quickly recover from the simple tag injection procedure, and the tags do not interfere with activities such as swimming or foraging.
PIT tags are detected using an antenna connected to a transceiver, which emits a signal that activates the tag. The tag then sends a unique signal back to the transceiver, allowing the fish to be identified. Although stationary fixed detection systems are more common, Jill is using a portable detection system comprised of a small transceiver and large pancake antennae fixed to a two- to three-metre-long pole.
Experiments so far have yielded mixed results. The logistics of tagging fish in the field have been worked out. It would be possible to tag hundreds of fish using volunteers over a few days. Measurements of stress indicators such as blood lactic acid, glucose, and red blood cell quantity confirmed that the tags were not harmful. Tag retention was excellent; only two fish (one in the field, one in the lab) out of 48 lost their tags. While tagged fish were easily detected in an artificial stream in the lab, the short, 20-25 cm (8-10”) detection range of the tags, and the cumbersome antenna, made it difficult to detect fish in wider, deeper sections of the Grand River .
Jill has modified her PIT tag detection system using newly acquired 20-mm (3/4”) “super tags” from Biomark in Boise , Idaho , which have a much greater detection range -- up to 50 cm (20”). She is in the midst of looking at microhabitat used by the brown trout in an impoundment in the tailwater near Elora. The impoundment was assembled with the assistance of volunteers from the FOGR. She and Wilfrid Laurier professor, Dr. Tom Woodcock, have set-up a grid system in the impoundment, which will allow Jill to identify the microhabitat occupied by different fish. She then intends to determine how angling affects the movements and habitat use by the trout, and see if post-angling behaviour increases their vulnerability to threats such as predators. She will also continue experiments in the lab to further extend the detection range of the 20-mm tags, examine tag retention rates, and establish how quickly fish recover from implantation of the larger PIT tags.
In coming years, the goal is to use PIT tag detection to learn more about the dispersal, habitat selection, and post-stocking survival of brown trout stocked into the Grand River tailwater. This emerging technology may also be used to learn more about overwintering habitat selection and survival of brown trout in winter, and their use of coldwater refuges in the warm summer months. PIT tag technology should also provide biologists with a valuable tool to monitor spawning migrations and spawning success, and ultimately lead to a better understanding of the factors that are inhibiting the development of a self-sustaining brown trout fishery in the Grand River tailwater.•
Jill Hanna injects a PIT tag into a sleepy brown trout
A “Super Tag” ready to be implanted
Sunday, October 21, 2007
We don't have many meetings for our membership. That's not an omission or an oversight, just reality, because people are busy and our members are dispersed over a wide chunk of real estate. But try to come out for this one. Bring your special someone. We'll have grub!
Call Larry McGratton for more information on the AGM (519) 843-3102).
Archie McLarty reports that tree planting is set for Saturday November 3, meeting at 9:30 at the Wallenstein access on Highway 86 west of Wallenstein. "We'll be transplanting trees from the Conestogo Lake Conservation Area, splitting into two groups: one to dig holes while the other digs trees at the conservation area, " he says. "Then we'll get together to fill those holes with fresh trees."
There's some work needed at the access site — taking out weekds coming up in the gravel parking lot, replacing a few trees that haven't done well, repairing the garbage kiosk, etc. People should bring trucks, shovels, gloves and personal gear and TRUCKS! We ought to have some lunch available for those who pitch in."
River Watch co-coordinator O.J. MacDonald reports we got off to a late start this year. It seems that there has been an increase in the use of live bait and minor conflicts between anglers on the Grand. There is still a lot of confusion in the definition of “live bait” and a lack of understanding on the special regulations. This can be overcome with an increased presence on the river.
River Watch patrollers have an opportunity to educate anglers in a positive manner. This will promote unity between tackle users and a build a common goal among anglers to preserve our protected river. If we want to see other rivers. i.e. the Conestogo River , implement a special regulation program then we must be successful in our River Watch program. Our ability to ‘self police' and work hand-in-hand with CO's will show the rest of the province that this works, that this is needed and that this has a positive impact on the lives of the fish and the anglers!
I am going to organize a small fall meeting of anyone interested in joining the program and arrange a few group patrols for the fall spawning season. Anglers who love pike and bass know this river is good fishing after trout season has closed. We should be present on the river to help maintain a level of understanding amongst anglers that this is a protected trout fishery and only specific targeting of the other species is acceptable. I welcome any and all feedback from members to help me build a better 2008 program that is fun, balanced and beneficial to all of our lives and schedules.
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