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trout/credit river news article toronto star

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#1 tangledline



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Posted 21 April 2009 - 10:34 AM

TheStar.com | GTA | Trout caught up in political net
Trout caught up in political net.

Upstream battle
Steelheads, also called rainbow trout, are separated from hatchery fish and transported from the Streetsville dam to north of the Norval dam to tributaries of the Credit River to spawn.
Plan to let wild steelhead into brown trout territory spawns division among anglers

Apr 20, 2009 04:30 AM
Phinjo Gombu
They're colloquially referred to as steelhead: large, powerful and graceful rainbow trout that course up the Credit River every spring to spawn, until a dam at Streetsville stops them.

For the past four years, scores of volunteers led by John Kendell of the Credit River Anglers Association have spent long hours at the dam, separating wild steelhead, distinguished by their unclipped fins, from hatchery-raised fish that are tossed over the barrier to travel upstream through less than ideal spawning waters.

Only the treasured wild fish get measured, tagged, placed in tanks of superoxygenated water and then transported past the next dam to the northern Credit River and its tributaries, where they're released into cold, clean water for spawning.

But in the complicated world of watershed management, a gift of survival for one species can be considered a threat to another.

On the Credit River, this drama of managed survival has raised passions. There are fears that if the much-loved migratory steelhead are allowed to spawn further upstream, they might prove to be too much competition for the equally loved resident brown trout, which lives in the upper stretches.

For now, there is a détente, because the steelheads Kendell's group transport upstream are dropped off at tributaries north of Norval, nowhere near the resident brown population, near Inglewood and beyond.

But an environmental assessment process is considering whether to expand what is now a limited transfer and allow the steelhead to swim upstream into the main river between Norval and Inglewood.

It's brought Kendell's group, which manages the Streetsville ladder in the lower river, into conflict with other angling clubs, such as the Izaak Walton Flyfishing Club, which does most of its work on the upper river.

The greatest controversy is about the type and location of barriers to separate the steelhead from the brown trout, who will manage the barriers or how effective they will be against steelhead, known for their jumping ability.

Public information sessions are being held later in the spring to get input on alternative barrier designs at three locations, with a final decision pending by midsummer.

Mark Heaton, a fisheries biologist with the province, chuckles when he says it's challenging to deal with the interest groups.

"It comes down to fish politics – it's the difference between a minivan and a Mustang," says Heaton. "We have to wade through all these different preferences and come to a solution that meets the needs of the Credit River management plan.

"The good thing is that you see that all the people involved love the river," says Heaton, pointing out that personal desires still have to be balanced with scientific, environmental and economic issues – no easy task.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that steelhead and brown, both introduced species, must defer to the legendary Atlantic salmon, a migratory native of these waters that fed aboriginal people and early European settlers before going extinct locally.

Today, it trumps the rest because it's being aggressively reintroduced to the Credit. Kendell says some tension stems from the fact that his group is labelled as a rainbow trout club, when in fact they've done a lot of work all along the river on all kinds of species.

"That's where the tension comes from – some people like one species," says Kendell.

Ken Geddes, president of the Izaak Walton Flyfishing Club, says the real issue is competition among the fish for limited resources.

"It's a sensitive issue," says Geddes, who supports leaving things as they are.

The steelhead, a native of the West Coast, and the brown trout, brought here from Europe, are sought after by anglers for different reasons. The steelhead swims back to Lake Ontario and returns to spawn again and again, while the resident browns don't stray far from home in the upper river.

Kendell believes little biological evidence supports the fear that one species will out-compete another and says the Credit can handle it all.

"We want this river to be everything it can," says Kendell.

But Sylvia D'Amelio, a biologist with Trout Unlimited, stresses that mixing any two species together in a smallish river like the Credit – especially the upper stretch where they spawn – results in a cost to one or the other – or both.

"If you consider the river has a limited amount of resources, space and food, it can only handle so many fish, so many inches, so many pounds; no matter how you put it, it can only handle so much," says D'Amelio.

"It's not just about preferences," she says. "It's about understanding what science tells us will happen or may happen."

One thing is clear: The Atlantic salmon will get first dibs on the prime spawning grounds. History and government protect native species over non-native.

They are the privileged fish that will sail through a reconstructed fish ladder being designed for the Norval dam.

Will the steelhead go through with them? That depends whether the question of a cost-effective species-separating barrier gets resolved soon. One option, D'Amelio gently points out, is to keep the status quo.

The fish await a decision.

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Some people never give up
It's funny how TU and IWFC like to stir the pot. They make it seem that CRAA is pushing for migratory steelhead and browns to get "full access" of the river. Whish is totally wrong! For one CRAA wants the barrier to be placed in inglewood below the forks in the middle section of the credit where no brookies and very little browns inhabit. As for the atlantics effecting the brookies....well they co existed 100 years ago so they can learn to do it agian.

Submitted by Richard S at 8:43 PM Monday, April 20 2009

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A Fish Story Well Told (But Forgot The Native Brookies)
Well written article -- covered most of the important parts -- and I have to agree with Sylvia D'Amelio about mixing any two species together in the Credit – especially the upper stretch where they spawn – results in a cost to one or the other – or both. The Upper Credit is the home to native brookies (actually probably more native than the Atlantic salmon recently reintroduced). The brook trout would definitely suffer from the competition with steelhead. Obviously some like John Kendell "believes little biological evidence supports the fear that one species will out-compete another". It's not rocket science to figure out such potential competition. It concerns me that Mr. Kendell, who heads the CRAA that is so involved with the management of the Credit, actually believes that. I'm concerned even what effect Atlantic salmon will have on the smaller brookies. (interesting again how involved Mr. Kendell's group is in "lifting" the Atlantics up to the upper sections).

Submitted by MickeyFinn at 3:37 PM Monday, April 20 2009

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Beautifull Storey - harmony - keep it up
Kudos to the government people that realize this is possible. As someone who fishes the upper and lower Credit I can't wait to see the whole river utilized with a barrier in place to keep the Steelehad away from the Brown Trout and Brook trout. And remember the let works on the environment so that the Credit stays clean with cold water.

Submitted by wayneswing at 12:36 PM Monday, April 20 2009

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This has happened before... The Ministry released fishery raised Walleye into Northern Ontario Lakes, only to see the Bass populations (Large and Small) decrease... Its not about one group against another, its about using common sense in these practices.
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#2 tangledline



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Posted 21 April 2009 - 10:38 AM

when i read this article this morning i thought it might interest many of you....
i know that between work, family, and fishing there is not always enough time to keep up with the news.
enjoy the read.
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#3 ec1



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Posted 21 April 2009 - 12:53 PM

Interesting. Wonder how that's gonna play out in the end.
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#4 diggyj


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Posted 21 April 2009 - 01:31 PM

Great article. Thanks. Hopefully they can reach a conclusion that is beneficial to all parties involved including the various species of fish.

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#5 balapickerel


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Posted 21 April 2009 - 04:29 PM

good read, thanks for posting it
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#6 David Kearney

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Posted 21 April 2009 - 04:49 PM

Thanks for the read Tangledline...very intersting debate going on there! Lets hope the best decission possible is made, seeing as thats not always the way it works...politics plays a huge role in these things, and you can`t trust politicians!
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#7 frozenfire



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Posted 21 April 2009 - 09:52 PM

read that in the morning...interesting debate for sure.

there's also a neat video of the lifting process and seeing the fish get measured and tagged...

link with video:
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