Port Elgin fish hatchery ‘clipping’ right along

Lake Huron Fishing Club (LHFC) was out in full force on Saturday as it was time to ‘clip’ the adipose fins of some 16,000 Lake Trout being raised.

The trout were part of the almost 50,000 that were at the Kincardine hatchery and, with their growth and running out of space, the 16,000 were shipped to Port Elgin hatchery where tanks were available for the next eight months of growth.

While Michigan hatcheries do not clip the fins, it is customary in Ontario so that fish that are caught can be identified as hatchery raised or wild in an attempt to track numbers.

The clipping is delicately done with manicure scissors and each takes a matter of seconds after which the fish are released back into the tanks where they will continue to grow until their release into the wild sometime in April.

  Cody Irwin of Hanover catches the last              of the trout to be clipped


    Kody Buchanan of Steel Dreams carefully clips                                 the adipose fin









The release however, depends extensively on water temperature with the ideal being at 10C or 50F so that the fish do not experience shock.

This year, at the hatchery, weather had a definite impact with approximately 75 per cent of the salmon being raised were lost.  Fluctuating temperatures in November combined with three power outages due to snow storms, shut down hatchery electric pumps that add well water to the tanks to blend and keep the water at a steady temperature.  The result was that the fish went through three extreme thermal cycles in one day alone.

“Honda Canada has partnered with the Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters and we applied for a grant that Honda has offered,” explained Dave Myette, “and they will be providing a generator to help when power outages occur, which can frequently occur during a Bruce County winter.”

Both Port Elgin and Kincardine hatcheries are completely operated by volunteers with limited funding from the Ministry of Natural Resource and Fisheries (MNRF).

The Lake Huron Fishing Club also carries out an elementary school outreach program with some 50 schools in Huron and Bruce counties.

The LHFC provides the schools with fish eggs and then helps them maintain aquariums where fish are raised by students to be released in the Spring, giving students an understanding of wildlife and nature.