November 29, 2017

Lake Trout Rescue!

Every year, the Massawippi Conservation Club teams up with ministry of natural resources (MFFP) to "rescue" the Lake Trout that get stuck under the dam in the Massawippi river. This event is open to public participation but unfortunately it usually lines up with finals season so I have always been busy with school. But finally, this year, things lined up and I had a shot at going to help the biologists in capturing and transporting these trout! Admittedly I had to skip an embarrassing 4 classes to be able to participate :( Since it was on a Wednesday, everyone was working and so I made the drive down to the Townships alone.

The theory is that these lakers come to hunt up shallow in the river as water temperatures cool, where they are then pulled by the current of the dam and end up stranded on the other side. There is a fish ladder but apparently the Lake Trout are not strong enough to swim up like the browns and rainbows. Unfortunately, the water in the river gets too warm in the summer so they would all eventually die.

The process of moving the fish is actually quite simple; the fish are caught using a seine net, put into buckets, and then hauled up to the ministry's fish transportation truck. This truck then brings them to a location in the lake away from the river. The fish are then counted and released into the lake! Here are some pictures of the process:

Seining the fish
Netting the fish
Bucket of fish!
In total, nearly 300 Lake Trout were captured and removed from the river, more than any other year so far! While this may sound like good news as many fish were saved, the biologists told me that this means more fish are getting lost and dying as a result of the dam :( After having "saved" about 200-250 of the lakers, my friend Gab and I took a walk downstream to explore and look for lures while the water was low due to the dam outflow being shut off. While exploring, we found an additional 50 or so Lake Trout and some browns in a pool further down the river. We convinced the biologists (shoutout to Gab) to haul all the gear down so that we could help these fish as well. In the end, this is where we saw a larger of variety of species seined; besides the lakers, we caught 3 Brown Trout, 2 Northern Pike, and 2 Silver Redhorse! Here are the pictures of one of the biggest Lake Trout caught, as well as the biggest brown:

Estimated 12lb Lake Trout
Estimated 5-6lb Brown Trout

Overall, this was a great experience and I have to thank the MFFP for co-ordinating with the fishermen to make this happen. They often get a bad rep in Quebec but I found the biologists and technicians to be very friendly and helpful. I hope to be able to participate again in the future :) Also, here's a picture of a Longnose Dace I found, the most beautiful one yet! Couldn't leave you guys without a micro ;)