Hooked On Fishing (and Conservation)

Jean Vanier High School in Collingwood has a Fishing Club and a Get Outdoors Club. Over the past three years our Georgian Triangle Anglers’ Association and these clubs have developed a unique relationship that is beneficial to both groups and to fish habitat in local waters. This relationship has been aided by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters.

J.YH.S. staff advisors Dave Godin and Jonathon Murphy have the following to say about their clubs and the G.T.A.A..,

“Our Fishing and Get Outdoors Club is the largest club in our school and, we have been told, the largest in the province. Many of our members are students who otherwise would not be involved in drama, sports, choir, band, students’ council etc.

Although we are primarily a fishing club, we have become involved with the G.T.A.A. and also members of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. Our mandate is to make our students aware of the importance of being stewards of creation and to help them become responsible, conservation-minded citizens.

“Since our club began three years ago, we have been heavily involved with stream rehabilitation projects ori the Pretty River and on Silver Creek. Our students love to participate on these work days and the benefits are numerous. Our Work days are organized by Dave Hodgetts and other members of the G.T.A.A. As teachers, it gives us great pleasure to see our students donating their-time and energy to such worthwhile causes, whether it be tree planting, beaver dam removal, stream bank stabilization, erosion control or stream maintenance and clean-up.

The growing relationship between our students and the G.T.A.A. members is a treat to observe. The students’ abundant energy and hard work puts a smile on the senior members’ faces and, of course, the barbeque following each work day is enjoyed by all. The students see many members of the adult community donating countless volunteer hours in the area of conservation.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the executive and members of the Georgian Triangle Anglers’ Association, The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and to all entrants in this year’s Spring Trout Derby. Your support and participation are much appreciated.

Conservation and Restoration

The GTAA has a very active, dedicated conservation program aimed at the preservation of this special natural resource.

Besides our terrific hatchery program, our association does a lot of restoration and maintenance work on the Pretty River and Silver Creek; two of the finest trout spawning streams in the Georgian Bay region. If we hope to enjoy good fishing in the Bay it is obvious that ideal spawning grounds must be present.

One of the best ways to help provide good habitat is to stabilize river banks that are badly eroding and slumping. Each spring these areas pour huge amounts of sill into the riverbed. The silt settles on the gravel beds used for spawning rendering them useless or covering up the reeds and destroying all the eggs. Black silt, when deposited in eddies, acts like a solar panel when the sunlight hits. During the summer months this can heat the water up to levels that can destroy trout.

The GTAA stream restoration committee has identified areas of concern on the Pretty and Silver. We have spent many hours walking these two rivers with biologists and stream technicians horn the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA) to determine what areas to restore.

A typical restoration project, if there is such a thing as typical, is to first, use a high hoe to grade the vertical, eroding bank. Then cover the lower bank with erosion resistant fabric and huge boulders. Above this plant grass seed and cover this with a six foot hay mesh. With volunteer help we then cut thousands of willow shoots which were used to pin the fabric to the bank. These shoots will begin to form a dense root system.

Finally plant spruce trees on top of the bank; these trees will eventually shade the riverbed. In two years this entire bank will be vegetated and provide spawning sites instead of ruining them.

Currently completed Projects:

1) Silver Creek – widening of the mouth to all for fish migration. Because of the low water level in the Great Lakes the estuary of the Silver became undefined and shallow, making it nearly impossible for fish to access the stream so during the winter months

2) Pretty River – Weir property sites 2,3, & 4. Stabilizing nearly a kilometer of the Pretty River on the Weir farm just upstream from the Poplar Side Road bridge.

3) Stream Management – We need to continuously manage the streams to keep them clear and clean of log jams and dams. We are working hand in hand with the landowners and they are assisting with our efforts. Many GTAA volunteers and the staff and students from the Vanier High School spent hundreds of hours clearing log jams and beaver dams from the two rivers. These to allow the adult fish access to the headwater gravel beds and to ensure the young smolts have a clear passage back to the bay.


Bill Wheatstone is heading up this effort and with the help of volunteers and especially Jim Collis, some major projects are planned for the next few years. Besides our fundraising and donations we have other grants that we have been successful in acquiring. These are the Trillium Grant for $25,000 each of the next three years, the MNR Protection and Enhancement Grant for $10,000, A CFWIP grant for $3,000, a $2126 donation from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and possibly a grant from the NVCA “Healthy Waters Program.

Detail of Projects being worked on in 2003:

1. Lower Pretty River – County Road 124 at the Nottawa Bridge to the Popular Side RoadSeven sites. Bank stabilization.

    • Approximate cost – $ 25.000
    • Project authorized by GTAA Directors, MNR and NVCA. Design work completed and submitted to NVCA. Awaiting permits and work is to begin in August. Funding from Trillium and Protection and Enhancement..

2. Lower Pretty River – Downstream of Popular Side Road. Dave King property

  • One site. Bank Stabilization
  • Approximate cost $4,000
  • Project authorized by GTAA Directors, MNR and NVCA. Design work completed and submitted to NVCA. Awaiting permits. Funding to be CFWIP and club fundraisers.

3) Pretty River Mouth – Deepening river channel into the lake to improve migratory fish access

  • Approximate cost $6,000
  • This request came from the MNR based on our success at the mouth of the Silver Creek.

4) Silver Creek – Martin property. Awaiting program approval

  • One site. Bank stabilization
  • Cost undetermined
  • Preliminary only. GTAA Director approval in principle.

5) Pretty River and Silver Creek temperature surveys.

  • Both rivers with volunteer help.
  • Trillium grant $350
  • Minimum cost to be thermometers only.

6) Pretty River – Nottawa bridge upstream to 10th line

  • Erosion assessment for future projects.
  • Approximate cost $2,100
  • Trillium funding.

7) Pretty River and Silver Creek stream monitoring. On going monitoring with emphasis on spring and fall surveys to determine problem areas Equipment rental. Blasting, etc. remove Beaver Dams and logjams.

  • Approximate cost $3000
  • Trillium funding and GTAA fund raising

With Dave Hodgetts getting the ball rolling on these major projects, Bill Wheatstone has been the driving force this year and Jim Collis has been providing some of the professional assistance that is much needed. Bill and his people will be looking for assistance periodically so give Bill a call (444-0669) if you can help in any way, especially with the temperature survey that will be done this August.

Fish Stocking – Conservation

Stocking of the hatchery raised fish is great, but without spawning beds, nursery habitat for juvenile fish in our streams and rivers, all our efforts would go to waste. With that in mind, our club carries out an extensive stream rehabilitation program.
The stabilization of eroding banks is necessary to stop sediment from covering spawning beds. The narrowing of the stream flow to bring it back to its natural course is important to keep the stream flowing at a proper speed during low water periods in order to maintain tolerable temperatures.

When the Conservation Authority changed the pretty river flood control plan, they forgot about migrating fish. Our club has created a series of channels and small pools to allow migrating fish access to the upper reaches of the Pretty River, in both the spring and the fall.
The Ministry of Natural Resources, Huronia District and Owen Sound District both has seen fit to give our club several awards through the Community Fishery Involvement Program.

These CFIP projects have included bank stabilization, creation of spawning beds, removal of obstructions for migrating fish, low flow channels, and the excavation of a new channel at the mouth of rivers to allow access.

A project the club undertook in 1997 at The “SPOONERS HOLE” on the Pretty River was one of the biggest that was undertaken yet. The stabilization of eroding banks, combined with the ” large log structures” not only fixed the banks, but it also provided habitat for the yearling fish, and protection of migratory fish.

In 2001/2002 we completed two sites on the Pretty River on the Weir property at a cost of about $40,000. Both site were a good success with two main erosion areas stabilized and planted with new growth.

This year in 2003 we will be surpassing the challenge we had in the past with the start of a three year project on the remaining 12 sites on the Pretty River between Popular Side Road and Nottawa. We have received a $75,000 grant over three years from the Trillium Foundation to support this project which is expected to exceed this $25,000 per year estimate. Starting date for this project is July 2003.

A second major project will be undertaken in 2003 with the stabilization of the King property just north of the Popular Side Road. This project is estimated at about $4000 and with the assistance of Dave King and club volunteers this will be completed in the fall of 2003.

In addition to the Trillium grant we have received financial support from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Tatham CC & Associates, Robert Crozier, and other private donations to support our conservation efforts. These along with our fundraisers and volunteer labour we accomplish our efforts. Fundraisers include The Georgian Triangle Spring Trout Derby, The Fish Bowl for Conservation, The August Salmon Derby and our Wild Game Dinner in January.