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Lake Trout Spawning Beds Restored on Canada’s Diamond Lake

Perth, Ontario – A momentous first step was taken last month to restore a historic lake trout spawning bed in the Madawaska Valley region.

Diamond Lake, located near Combermere, Ontario, is one of only twelve trout lakes in Renfrew County. For many years the trout population has been experiencing struggles on the lake, with the once productive spawning bed being recently damaged by siltation.

The Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s Outdoor Fund donated critical funds to launch the restoration process of the trout spawning bed, with project completion scheduled for spring 2022. The project is possible because of Diamond Lake property owners and volunteers, the Madawaska Fish and Game Club, Watersheds Canada, Bathurst Burgess Drummond and Elmsley Fire/Rescue Station, the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (MNDMNRF) Pembroke, and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) – Zone F who gave an in-kind donation and lent their power washer for the project.

Diamond Lake trout bed before washing 1

A look at the silted over spawning bed before it was washed.

This project has been in the works since 2015 when Kirby Punt, now retired MNDMNRF Biologist, observed the noticeable decline in the trout population and poor quality of the historic spawning bed. Kirby approached Watersheds Canada to see if there was anything that could be done.

“The state of Diamond Lake’s spawning bed was first brought to my attention in late 2019”, said Melissa Dakers, Habitat and Stewardship Program Manager, Watersheds Canada. “With the pandemic, we had to put the project on hold. Now in 2021, we have community support, the required government permits, and funding from the Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s Outdoor Fund. I am so excited to see this project finally come together!”

Thanks to the dedication and hard work of twelve community members and Watersheds Canada staff, critical fish habitat was enhanced on September 16, 2021 as volunteers swept silt off the shoal and power washed the bed. Removing this silt was necessary because trout are a very sensitive species, with silt negatively affecting their spawning beds. Silt covers the eggs, preventing them from being adequately oxygenated. This increases embryotic (early stage development) trout mortality. Some reasons increased siltation may be observed on a lake can include increased flooding, alterations are made to a stream or culvert, or there is an increase in urbanization and nearby development. Silt curtains were placed to minimize impacts on the system.

Watersheds Canada photo 1

Volunteers wash the historic trout spawning using a donated power washer from OFAH – Zone F.

The washed bed will be further enhanced in winter 2022 when more rocks are placed over the bed on the frozen ice. As the ice melts in the spring, the rocks will fall into place.

“I have been a cottager since 1965 and am the fifth generation to live on this lake. I want to see the lake trout population improve, continuing through the generations so I can take my grandsons out fishing”, said Jo Walton from the Zavitz cottage. Jo is a seasonal resident on the lake who generously volunteered her time to help sweep and wash the bed.

Local community support and leadership is fundamental to the success of Watersheds Canada’s fish habitat restoration projects. This lake trout spawning bed restoration project was, in part, spearheaded by local residents Blake and Kathy Smith, who visit Diamond Lake year-round. Blake is an avid hunter and fisherman and retired biologist who, like Jo, wants to see future generations grow up on the lake and be able to fish.

“By starting this process now, we can make it possible for our grandchildren to catch a fish on this lake”, said Blake. “We are coming together as a community now to do this work as it will take some time for the fish population to rebound. We’re thinking for the future, with future generations in mind.”

Local residents were able to get involved with the project thanks to a call for volunteers in the Diamond Lake Facebook group. Blake notes that there was a lot of interest in people wanting to help and learn more about the project. He is optimistic for the lake trout population in the coming years.

The project on Diamond Lake is Watersheds Canada’s first trout bed restoration project. In partnership with grassroots organizations and local volunteers, Watersheds Canada has completed many fish habitat restoration projects across Eastern and Central Ontario over the past seven years, including walleye spawning bed enhancements, cold-water creek enhancements, and in-water habitat enhancements through the deployment of brush bundles (woody debris).

 

About Watersheds Canada

Watersheds Canada is a national non-profit charitable organization that works with landowners, communities, and organizations to enhance and protect lakes and rivers through developing effective and transferable long-term solutions. Watersheds Canada envisions people caring for their waters, resulting in clean, healthy lakes and rivers to support humans and wildlife for years to come. Learn more at watersheds.ca

 

About the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund

Under the visionary leadership of founder Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s is leading North America’s largest conservation movement. Together with our partners in conservation, Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s is positively shaping the future of the outdoors through donations, grant-making and advocacy. The 501c3 Outdoor Fund raises funds to support conservation efforts by activating more than 200 million passionate sportsmen and women rounding up their purchases in Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s stores and online.

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