Denny’s Dam a fish ‘school’ of activity

Denny’s Dam on the Saugeen River at Southampton was a busy place on Monday, October 15th, as the Lake Huron Fishing Club (LHFC), Biotactic Inc. biologists, Ministry of Natural Resources and Fisheries (MNRF), Bruce Power and Ontario Steelheaders were ‘tagging’ salmon.

Approximately 50 salmon were inserted with tiny transmitters that would provide data about their travels up the Saugeen River adding to the 50 that were also ‘tagged’ in the spring.  The transmitters last some two-years.

        Rick Baldwin

The MNRF and Bruce Power funding the project together want to determine if the fish travel up-river as far as Walkerton where it has been proposed to remove one-third of the Walkerton Dam.  According to Environmentalist, Rick Baldwin contracted to Bruce Power, “The dam has been a major stumbling block for fish to get up-stream to spawn and we are trying to resolve the problem.  We have to know however, how many fish actually travel that far.”

LHFC and Ontario Steelheaders volunteers removed the fish from the Denny’s Dam fish ladder to enable biologists with ‘Biotactic’ out of Kitchener to insert the transmitters.  Prior to the insertion, each fish was given a number, weighed and measured both in length and girth.  Dr. Chris Bunt, with the precision of a surgeon, made an incision and inserted the transmitter and wire and then restitched the inch-long gap before releasing the fish back into the river.

The Tagging Process

The LHFC volunteers have been overseeing the salmon and rainbow trout fish stocks for several years.

The hatchery in Port Elgin, for instance, is operated by Lake Huron Fishing Club (LHFC) volunteers with funding through the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Anglers and Hunters Association, OPG, Bruce Power and other grants.  Approximately 90,000 fry (salmon) are raised each year from September to May from eggs that are collected in September.  They are then released into Lake Huron at various locations, including the Saugeen River, Pike Bay, Penetangore River and the Sauble River.

The LHFC has raised fish in the various hatcheries throughout Bruce and Grey Counties and, prior to releasing them into the wild, they clip a part of the adipose fin from the back of the fish to identify them as being ‘hatchery raised’.  Out of some 600 salmon that have traveled up the Saugeen River, more than 300 were identified as hatchery fish.