Stream Tender Magazine

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December 2017 Issue

Cochrane Community

Grant Program


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Articles by : Guy Woods and Contributors

Fall Colors

Another Spawning Season on the Bighill Creek System

Above: A pair of brook trout hovering over an excavated redd or egg nest, ready to deposit eggs. The egg nest will then be covered with small gravel and left to incubate.

Early Riparian Plantings are Starting to Stand Out Along Area Streams

    The native plants that were planted during the first years of the “Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program” are now starting to stand out on the stream banks of a few local creeks. These plants will be grazed upon by beavers but they will continue to grow into future years, transforming the streams eco-system.

    On some reaches of creek that we planted, the growth is very slow, but on other reaches where the soil conditions are just right, the willows and trees are growing fast. Observing new native plants taking root and growing along streams like West Nose Creek in Calgary is rewarding in itself, but as a volunteer I am also motivated by these results.

    A 2018 riparian planting program is already in the works for this next growing season. We can add more native plants to more stream banks and continue to revitalize the riparian zone on all three streams in the program. Plantings have occurred on over 30 km of stream bank so far.

Above: These native willows growing on West Nose Creek in Calgary, were planted in 2015. The willows are now starting to stand out in the shoreline grasses this year.

Willows Frozen in for the Cold Winter Months

Above: The native willows that we planted a few years ago are frozen into the winter ice along Bighill Creek. This will insure a good survival rate for the cold winter months. When the root systems are locked in ice they do better thru the winter.

Winter  Trout Eggs — to Hatch Soon

    The fall spawning brook trout and brown trout eggs are now safely in the gravel incubating. Up until the ice formed on the main stem of Bighill Creek this late fall, the water was still flowing clear. With the added protection of a ice cover, the  trout eggs should get clean well oxygenated water through until hatch time.

    The trout eggs on the smaller feeder springs like Millennium Creek and the upper spring, should do well during incubation. The only problem lies on Ranch House Spring Creek. If the storm drain flows with dirty water over the winter, the eggs may be smothered in silt. This can happen during a prolonged Chinook with snow melt and run-off.

Above: Another generation of new trout is expected for the Bighill Creek system this winter. Hopefully, a successful incubation will happen in the next few months on all of the spawning habitats.

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“ Nothing compares to the beauty of an Eastern Brook Trout Male in full spawning color. When set in mineral rich crystal clear water.”

 Local Deer Population Utilizing Riparian Habitat

Above: These mule deer were using the riparian habitat zone along Bighill Creek for a safe place to live and mate this past fall, during the rutting season. This is just one example of how riparian habitats along creeks are used as wildlife corridors or cover habitats for a wide variety of native wildlife. A healthy riparian habitat has many benefits.

Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program

    This year’s Bow Valley Riparian Recovery and Enhancement Program was another major success. In total, 9,070 native willows and tree plants were planted along the stream banks of Nose Creek, West Nose Creek and Bighill Creek. We are now in the fourth year of the program with over 50,000 native plants in the ground.

    Bow Valley Habitat Development is presently working on putting the 2018 riparian planting program together. Hopefully, it will turn out to be as good as previous years in both the number of plants, as well as volunteer and partner support. I am really looking forward to the fifth year of this very worthwhile program, with lots of additional plants in the ground.

   Tying The Old Classic Wet Flies

Above: The Royal Coachman Wet Fly was once a very popular trout and mountain whitefish fly in this area of the province. The snelled version with a looped leader was quite common when I first started fishing a trout fly.

Stream Bank Stabilization

    In the last few years of riparian planting, volunteers have planted a number of exposed eroding stream banks, especially on West Nose Creek and Bighill Creek. The growth has been slow on these erosion sites, but the newly planted native willows and trees are holding on and growing slowly. The surviving plants seem to do better, right along the water’s edge on the stream channel. Over time, the banks will recover.


A planted erosion site on Bighill Creek in the Town of Cochrane, Alberta.

     Other Pretty Trout

Above: A large beautiful Yellowstone Cutthroat trout.

In This Issue


Bow Valley Habitat Development would like to extend special thanks to all of the volunteers and partners for this year’s 2017 riparian planting program