Low water flows at popular fishing creek on the Grand River are a concern for cold water fishing
Two good days of consistent rain and cooler nights along tributaries of the Grand River will be the remedy to help reduce the impact of dry conditions on fishing this summer at a popular fishing spot in Brant County, Ontario .
Whitemans Creek is a popular spot for wild fish, including brown trout, speckled trout, or rainbow trout that swim from Lake Erie to the creek.
The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) said levels in Whitemans Creek, a cold-water tributary that empties into the Grand River between Paris and Brantford, are below 50% of normal levels for the summer and indicated that this could impact cold water fishing. .
Larry Mellors, co-vice-president of the Middle Grand Chapter of Trout Unlimited Canada, says the water flows are as bad as he’s ever seen.
« This year it’s been extremely rare for flows to be around a third of what the average should be for late summer, » Mellors said.
« So basically the late summer flow is averaging 1.1 cubic meters per second, but it’s been as low as just under 0.4 cubic meters per second. That gives us waters very low and the creek is narrow. »
Mellors says low water levels dissolve oxygen, which doesn’t bode well for trout species and aquatic life.
Days of constant rain needed
The GRCA recently urged all water users living along the watershed to reduce their usage by 20% as the entire watershed remains at Tier Two under the Ontario Low Water Response program.
« The ground is so dry that we need a day or two of constant rain to be able to penetrate this dry land so that the water then enters the stream, not only flowing from the surface, but filtering through the water table and into those streams and they are their tributaries,” Mellors said.
« So the rain is crucial at this time and the cooler temperatures, especially in the evenings, are cooling that water for trout survival. »
Besides the low water flow, the creek also felt the effects of a green algae bloom this year which, according to Mellors, « you could only see four inches in the water. » But on the plus side, he says, the water is cooler in Whitemans Creek and surrounding tributaries.
« The creek maintains a temperature of essentially below 20 degrees C — 70 degrees Fahrenheit — which is the high end for brown trout and rainbow trout, » Mellors said.
« It’s just because the cold water is seeping in and the other little tributaries coming into Whitemans are affecting the [creek] water and keeping it cooler than, say, last year. Last year it went up to 20C and slightly above because there was more flow. »
When it approaches and exceeds the 20C range, that’s when most anglers, according to Mellors, temporarily avoid the creek and leave the fish alone because the chances of trout surviving with a catch and a catch and release are not very high. Instead, anglers focus on other tributaries in the area where they fish for smallmouth bass.
Trout are attracted to cold water and Trout Unlimited Canada helps keep the water cool by planting trees along the stream as well as other works on the tributary.
“We narrow the stream, force it to meander so we have stronger flows. We keep the sand sediment deposits moving so the gravel is there for insects and for fish to spawn,” said said Mellors.