Autumn Beauty And Spawning Salmon At Lowville Park

Lowville Park in Burlington is a great place to visit at any time of the year. With a playground, picnic areas, trails, and Bronte Creek flowing right through it, the park is popular destination.

Our introduction to Lowville Park was through volunteer workdays with Trout Unlimited Canada as part of their Bronte Creek Watershed Renewal Program. From tree plantings to spring cleanups, stream restoration to wildlife observation, we’ve had a lot of great times within the park, and it’s always fun to return and check out the restoration efforts.

Of course, we are attracted to anywhere with water. Give us water and we’ll look for fish. We have fished this stretch of river a couple of times, but we now visit it more often just to watch.

“Watch what?” you might ask.

Watch the trout and salmon spawn.

As much as I enjoy fishing for them, I get just as much joy by standing on the bank and observing fish. It’s fascinating to watch them clearing redds, males fighting for females, and moving up and down the river. Each spring before trout opener, Darrell and I spend an afternoon in Lowville watching rainbow trout during the spawn. In one pool we’ve counted as many as 30 fish.

This past weekend we stopped at the park and proceeded to watch the fall salmon run. Watching the chinooks is an entirely different experience than the spring trout. They get so beat up during the spawn, and you can easily distinguish fish that have already spawned from those that have recently arrived.

While people walked by, oblivious to the commotion in the water (or just not caring), Darrell and I stood on bridges and banks and watched the show.

spawning salmon

A spawning chinook salmon. This fish was paired up with another one and they were frequently interrupted by a much bigger fish that would pass through. This fish had not been in the river as long as some others who were now black and white and very close to the end of their lives.

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This log was a popular place for some fresher salmon. We were surprised to see them in this spot, as it was a very different location than other areas we found them in.

lowville park

One of the more recent restoration projects in the park is this sediment mat. This structures will help to narrow the stream channel by trapping sediment when water flows through it, which will then fill in and create the bank. It’s a simple structure, but when done properly, it is extremely effective.

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The downstream end of the sediment mat, looking upstream at it.

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This basswood had fallen across the creek and would cause problems down the line by creating a log jam. With Trout Unlimited Canada, a group of volunteers moved this basswood up against the bank. Here it will provide habitat and help the creek, instead of harming it.

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I’ve posted pictures of these dogwoods before. Darrell and I were part of the group that put them in as live stakes in the spring of 2013. They have nicely taken root and flourished. Live stakes are cuttings from trees and shrubs such as willows and dogwoods. They are cut while dormant, then 2/3 of the cutting is put in the ground. It is a simple and cost-effective way to quickly increase riparian vegetation.

lowville park

Of course, a visit to the park in autumn would not be complete without enjoying the colours. Most people seemed far more interested in the colours than the fish.

As we wandered downstream, along woodchip trails through the forest, I was distracted by the variety of plants producing seeds, and stopped to check them out. Birds were singing in the trees and I again marveled at what a beautiful place the park really is.

If you are in the Burlington area and want to witness the salmon run, I have seen them in the area as late as the first week of November. However, the sooner you get there, the better.

Ontario is an amazing place to be in the fall. Get outside and enjoy it at places like Lowville Park.

For more information on the Bronte Creek Watershed Renewal Program, check out the project’s website.

The last Trout Unlimited Canada workday in Lowville Park for 2014 will be this Saturday, October 4th. It’s a great opportunity to learn about stream restoration.

Caterpillars!

This post has absolutely nothing to do with fish, but as a lover of the outdoors, I tend to find a lot of things quite fascinating, such as caterpillars. I’ve come across a few interesting caterpillars this fall, and though I didn’t immediately plan to document them, the macro abilities of my LG G3’s camera gave me clear pictures from which to identify them. Here are a few of the recent ones.

Cecropia Silkmoth (Hyalophora cecropia)

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Cecropia silkmoth

I nearly stepped on this one while walking back to the house after feeding the horses. This is large caterpiller, approximately 10cm in length, and is native to Ontario. They overwinter in a cocoon that is usually found in tall grass or low shrubbery, and the adult moth emerges in May or June.

Zebra Caterpillar Moth (Melachra picta)

zebra caterpillar

Zebra Caterpillar Moth

zebra caterpillar

Zebra Caterpillar Moth

I had difficulties identifying this particular caterpillar that I found on some weeds in my garden. After submitting it to butterfliesandmoths.org, I ended up with the proper identification. Despite being the smallest caterpillar I have found, they can be destructive to garlic populations, although not enough to warrant control measures. Interestingly, there can be two generations per year.

Spotted Tussock Moth (Lophocampa maculata)

spotted tussock moth

Spotted Tussock Moth

spotted tussock caterpillar

Spotted Tussock Moth Caterpillar

While specifically searching for caterpillars, I came across this one in a tree we have been meaning to remove for the past few years. The Spotted Tussock Moth caterpillar has irritating hairs that can cause an allergic reaction for some people. They are widespread throughout Canada.

Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

black swallowtail caterpillar

Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar.

After a day of surveying, my coworker and I hiked out of the stream valley and crossed a manicured lawn. There, we somehow noticed this caterpillar in the grass. The colouring was pretty neat and was part of the reason I decided to start documenting and identifying the caterpillars I saw. The adult butterfly is quite beautiful. The caterpillar will overwinter in a chrysalis, with Queen Anne’s Lace serving as it’s favorite host plant.

Caterpillars are fascinating creatures. They come in so many shapes, sizes, and patterns, that one can never get bored looking at them. Have a little search around your yard and you’d be surprised what you can come up with.

A Needed Farewell To Summer

Summer flew by faster than ever this year. Last week I finally realized that the leaves were changing, the temperature was dropping, and I hadn’t spent a relaxing evening on the water in far too long. I needed to take my own advice and make some time for fishing, especially before the summer ended. Fortunately for me, my live-in fishing buddy is more than willing to find time for fishing, and when I suggested we plan to get out on Friday night, Darrell had everything ready to go.

guelph lake

Hello, Guelph Lake!

At least a month had passed since I last fished out of Luma, and being back in our tinny was an absolute pleasure. The electric motor quietly pushed us across the lake and I breathed in that indescribable lake smell. It felt like coming home.

The rowing club was a hive of activity with Friday night practice sessions getting underway. Teams of two, teams of four, and several singles, all leaning forward and lifting their blades out of the water, followed by powerful strokes to propel their boats along. Different experience levels were obvious, but they all shared the thrill of being on the water. Coach boats, the only motorboats allowed on the lake, followed the rowers, their occupants shouting out instruction and encouragement.

Picking up my favorite heavy-action baitcaster, I cast the spinnerbait towards shore and automatically started reeling it in. It’s amazing how the very act of casting and reeling has become second nature.

We worked weed edges on a drop-off, and I was pleased to see green weed come in with my lure. By this time last year, much of the weed in our favorite lakes was dying off. I like having the vegetation stick around a little longer.

Twenty minutes into our evening I felt my spinnerbait stop. The weight on the end of the line was a welcome feeling, and the fish leaping out of the water made things even better. Smallies splashing on the surface are always a riot. I reeled like crazy to pick up slack line as the fish made a run at the boat. Darrell grabbed the net and after a few more runs, the feisty smallie was in the net. After a quick picture and a ‘thank you’, she was off to rejoin her friends.

fishing

I needed this fish so badly. It felt great to catch her.

While the pike smashfest was not quite at full power, we did find a few cooperative toothy critters. My first pike of the night had a decent pair of shoulders and managed to halt my retrieve more than once. Combined with some good head shakes, the fish put up a nice fight and was rewarded with a quick release. At a sandy bay a few more pike decided to join the party and Darrell and I appreciated their efforts.

Taking advantage of a nearly empty lake, we ventured around to other spots and tried our luck. Jackets were need to combat the wind and dropping temperature. It was soon too dark to wear my polarized glasses.

This was our last fishing trip of the summer. With the beginning of fall right around the corner, it was a time to reflect on where the summer had gone. From fishing derbies, to a fishing trip up north, and buying a new boat, our summer was packed with activities of the fishy kind. I continued to cast and felt grateful for all we had managed to experience over the last few months. I have no shortage of wonderful memories from time spent with Darrell out on the water this summer.

fishing

Time to welcome the changing of the seasons.

The sun began retreating behind the trees and we trolled our way back to the launch. The last fishing trip of the summer was complete, with a few nice fish to show for it. Fortunately for us, there is never a hiatus in our fishing. Fall will bring us some more bass fishing and the craziness that is the fall pike bite. Then winter will be here and it will be time to get the ice fishing gear out. But I’ll miss the summer.

We loaded the boat, stowed the gear, and headed home as the dark was settling in. It was a perfect way to say farewell to another wonderful summer.

Celebrate The Credit River On October 4th

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A tributary of the Credit River.

A salmon walk, a restoration planting, seminars discussing the health of the Credit River watershed, and the ghost ponds found throughout it – there’s something for everyone at this year’s Friends of The Credit Stewardship Forum hosted by Credit Valley Conservation (CVC).

Held on October 4th, 2014 at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) Campus, this free event will celebrate CVC’s 60 years of conservation through informative seminars and fun outdoors sessions.

The Credit River holds a special place in my heart, as it does for so many other anglers and outdoors enthusiasts. A tributary of the Credit is where I learned to fish, spending day-after-day chasing brook trout. To this day, it is my favorite river to visit, a place where I can spend a whole day wandering along the water and not mind if I don’t catch a single fish. I learned about fish stocking and Atlantic salmon thanks to the Credit. In fact, my interest in the Credit River watershed led me to the first Stewardship Forum, which quite literally changed my life.

Attending the Forum is a great way to meet other conservation-minded people, learn about the history of CVC and the watershed, get introduced to monitoring and community-outreach programs run by CVC, and learn about interesting ecological initiatives. During the outdoor sessions you can spend time around the beautiful UTM campus and connect with nature.

Some of the seminars and outdoors sessions include:

  • From Clouds to Streets to the Credit River: The Story of Rain Water Control and how it Evolved in last 60 Years
  • Two Roads Diverged in a Wood: How do we Lead our Children Back to Nature?
  • Migratory Bird and Plant Walk
  • Dark Diversity: The Loss & Restoration of our Native Species
  • Credit River Salmon Walk and Aquatic Insect Sampling and Talk

Every single attendee I have spoken with at the forums has greatly enjoyed the day and planned to return the following year. Join in on the fun and register today!

View the Forum schedule here.

Register for the Forum here. (Attendees are asked to register by September 24, 2014)