As we all witnessed, spring came early to Grey & Bruce Counties, bringing with it some fabulous runs of rainbows. Unfortunately shortly after, we experienced very low water conditions occurring much earlier than ‘normal’. Low flows left many fish stranded throughout the landscape with the combined effect of significantly less nursery habitat available to the year class of 2012.

On the brighter side, in early June MNR Fish & Wildlife Technician Dustin Veenhof placed Temperature loggers at 4 different locations on the Beatty Saugeen (Concession 12, 14 + 16 and below the dam at Orchardville). Loggers record and store temperature readings every hour.

Maple Hill Fishway

On average, temperatures remained below 20C, while on a couple of occasions the temperature did creep up to 25 or 26C. Rainbow trout temperature range is 12-20C, with 26C being fatal. Some rainbows can locate refuge in deep pools, cold tributaries or springs somewhere in the river during the hottest days. This is typical for a lot of local cold/cool water systems, and although it may not be perfect, it is still possible for them to thrive in this river system. Fish can still survive ‘out of temperature’ for a period of time but development, size and weight is directly affected.

For the most part these temperatures suggest the main Beatty Saugeen River is suitable for brown trout and even better for rainbows. Remember this in the context of one very hot summer with very low flows, these results are very encouraging! As with all fish species, environmental factors play a huge roll in annual recruitment.

The Good:

Low water levels also allowed the completion of phase 2 of Maple Hill fishway. Although rainbows did navigate this fishway in the spring, recent improvements should increase effectiveness. The current stop logs allow for adjustment of water heights through-out the fishway. Once observations are complete and fine tuning occurs, concrete will replace hemlock stop logs.

MNR is still on course for the placement of temporary cameras on the Walkerton and Maple Hill fishways to monitor next spring’s migration.

Early indicators suggest more exceptional angler opportunity on the Saugeen this fall! Enjoy!

Jody Scheifley Fish & Wildlife Technical Specialist Ministry of Natural Resources Owen Sound