Text Box: Stream Tender Magazine

“ December 2013 Issue”


Inside This Issue:

Program Partners

Cochrane Community

Grant Program


Contact Us: info@streamtender.com


    As the leaves of the willow plants from this season’s planting started to turn color this fall,  they were easy to spot along the water’s edge.

    I managed to visit the planting sites for one last time, before the winter snow flies and the leaves have vanished.

    Prior to the first snow of the winter season, this is the best time of the year to distinguish the young plants, while their leaves are starting to turn color.

    The shoreline grasses and sedge plants along the creeks, are a different color than the willow leaves.

    Despite the flooding on the host streams, the plant crop from 2013 is doing just fine!

    It may take a few years, but eventually, the planted willows and trees will become quite noticeable along the edge of the streams.

 I estimate that this will take approximately six years!


    With the big flood event of 2013, on the Bow River, I had a suspicion that the spawning activity on the tributaries to the river, may be down this fall.

    Both brown trout and brook trout that reside in the Bow River, were most likely impacted by the flooding and no doubt some of these fish were lost to the high flows.

    So it was no surprise to me that the number of trout returning to the Bighill Creek to spawn this fall, were down in numbers. In comparison to previous years.

    However, despite the flood there were still enough spawning trout in the BHC, to make a positive contribution to future generations of the species.

    Bow Valley Habitat Development did not conduct a comprehensive spawning survey on the BHC this fall, but some of the key spawning habitats were monitored.

    This annual spawning activity by both brook trout and brown trout, on the Bighill Creek, will play a major role in the recovery the stream’s fishery, into future years.

Above: These spawning brook trout, in the BHC, are insuring that future generations will re-populate the stream. The photo shows a light color female, with two brightly coloured male brook trout, competing for the opportunity to fertilize the female’s eggs. You can see a short video of this trio on the link above.


    I was in for a big surprise this fall, when I decided to check out Ranch House Spring Creek for any spawning activity!

    It all started in the spring of 2013, in early May, while inspecting the 2010 Ranch House Spring Creek project site. While walking the small stream, I observed a few juvenile brook trout in the shallow channel of the creek.

    This would not have been all that unusual, if the month had been June or July, but it was May, and the juvenile brook trout were just too small to have migrated up from the Bighill Creek that spring.

    There were a number of fast flowing chutes downstream of where I saw the young fish. I knew that really small trout, such as the ones that I spotted, could not have negotiated these fast flowing passages.

    At that point in time, I had a very strong suspicion that brook trout were actually spawning in the spring creek. However, in order to confirm this, I would need to return in the fall to conduct a spawning survey.

    When I visited the creek in early October of this year, I was pleasantly surprised to find mature brook trout, spawning in the creek!

Above: If you look carefully at this photo, you will see two mature brook trout hiding under a canopy of willow branches, on Ranch House Creek.



    Some small spring feeders go further in importance, providing spawning habitat for migrating mature trout from the main stem of the stream that they feed. Having a steady flow of clean water during the trout egg incubation period, increases the survival rate of the hatching eggs.

    If the main stem of a trout stream is vulnerable to silt loading or turbid water during post spawning, the trout eggs may be smothered by the silt or killed by poor water quality. This makes a ground water spring feeder a superior habitat for re-production of generations of new trout into a fishery.

    You may view a small feeder spring creek differently, next time you jump across it!

Above: This is a brook trout that has moved into a small feeder tributary to spawn. The cover of grass and willows along the water’s edge is vital habitat for these fish.

    If you are a regular reader of this magazine, you will notice that a considerable amount of attention is directed towards articles about very small streams.

    Many of the projects that I have been involved in recently, are focused on the enhancement of riparian and fish habitat on very small feeder spring tributaries. All of them are very short in length and they provide clean water throughout the year.

    These small feeders are often overlooked in their importance to an area or watershed’s fishery.

With a consistent flow of clean water and good available habitat for fish, small feeders provide a great habitat for juvenile trout. Fisheries managers use the expression, nursery habitat.



    West Nose Creek is a small tributary to Nose Creek, in the City of Calgary. It flows along Beddington Boulevard and enters Nose Creek near the Deerfoot Trail, in northwest Calgary.

    I have walk along the stream channel near the Stoney Trail crossing, and I was surprise by the volume of flow in the creek. This tour of the creek “sparked” a real interest in my mind. I was determined to  find out more about this small stream.

    In my research, I discovered that brown trout were present in the very bottom end of West Nose Creek, just upstream of its confluence with Nose Creek.

    Finding trout on the lower end of West Nose Creek, further heightened my interest! This small stream has a lot of potential, and the right kind of habitat to support a population further upstream!

    However, I needed consider what possible limitations that there were that would be  responsible for preventing trout populations from residing in the stream, further up the system.

    In my mind, the answer was very simple! Water temperature! The upper reaches of West Nose Creek are almost void of any riparian habitat that would help keep the water temperatures in the stream cool enough for trout.

    The best way to remediate this deficiency would be to restore a health riparian zone along the stream’s channel. Even if it was completed on a limited number of properties, the benefits of riparian recovery would become evident over time.

    Once the summer water temperatures in West Nose Creek are brought down, brown trout will start to repopulate the stream from the bottom up. Riparian enhancement work will also provide better fish habitat on the creek, so that trout can reside in a more natural environment.

Right Photo:

This is a photo of the West Nose Creek, just upstream of the Country Hills Golf Course.

    You can see that the stream lacks a health riparian zone along its banks.

A Fly Fishers



“ Large trout make you serious  -

Small trout make you smile! “

- Guy Woods


    Bow Valley Habitat Development completed a spawning survey on three tributaries to the Bighill Creek this fall. It was a very important year in the Bighill Creek Project’s story!

    Major discoveries about spawning activity  on  two of the creek’s tributaries were made this fall!

 Redd Count:

Millennium Creek —  20 redds

Ranch House Creek—14 redds

Upper Spring Creek—15 redds


All of the redds counted were brook trout redds. This amount of spawning activity on three small tributaries, is significant!

    It was discovered that brook trout were spawning on Ranch House Spring Creek and that brook trout were also spawning on the upper BHC spring, which hasn't seen spawning trout for many years!

    The spawning survey revealed the following:


    The publisher of this magazine is pleased to report that a record number of page views was recorded for the month of October 2013! A total of 20,204 page requests were made.

    From August to October 2013, a total of  53,047 page requests were made. The publisher is very pleased that so many readers share the same interest in this “grassroots” publication!

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