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Feature Article - September 1, 2005

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September 1, 2005

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Walleye spawning rehabilitation at Bob's and Crow Lakes

by Mel Fleming

Woes_innkeepers_wifeThe Frontenac Stewardship Rangers (L to R):Ayrton Potter from Holy Cross HS, Bethanie Worth from NapaneeHS,Lindsay Davidson fromSydenham HS, and Xavier Granville from Napanee HS. (click image for larger view) Over the past ten years, the Greater Bobs and Crow Lake Association has undertaken a Walleye spawning bed improvement campaign under the leadership of Mel Fleming, the Association’s Director of Fisheries and Wildlife Habitat.

This year, three creeks known for walleye spawning were improved. These were the Crow Lake Village Creek, Scotts Creek as well as the McEwen's Creek which flows into Bobs Lake. The work included pressure washing rocks in the creeks, removing tree and brush interferences, and general cleaning up of weeds and other debris. Herns Sand and Gravel supplied the spring water and the pressurized water pressure equipment after installing silt screens to protect the lakes. In addition, the Frontenac Stewardship Rangers, under the direction of MNR's Kevin Hansen, did the actual cleaning up, including removing beaver dams.

The funds required to carry out these tasks were supplied by the MNR through Community Fisheries and Wildlife Programs (CFWIP), and from the Association itself. Other projects have already been successfully undertaken in our lakes, including building a bridge at Thompson's Creek to provide access for walleye and pike to their spawning areas, optimizing Eagle Creek, and upgrading channel walleye spawning areas. Ross Cholmondeley and Kevin Esseltine, both biologists from the MNR, provided the expertise and guidance to the Association.

The four-member Stewardship Ranger team put in a full day at the three creeks, moving and cleaning rocks, and removing a Beaver dam from under a bridge at one location.

The Greater Bobs & Crow Lakes Association under its Fisheries mandate, sponsors a number of projects every year to enhance the fisheries in its lakes. Every year, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) stocks the two lakes with lake trout. Usually, 10,000 lake trout fingerlings are stocked in Crow Lake and 25,000 are stocked into Green Bay of Bobs Lake. In the fall, attempts are made to identify the lake trout spawning areas, while the success is determined by reports on the fish caught and reported to Mel Fleming c/o the Bobs & Crow Lakes Association, RR #2, Godfrey, ON K0H 1T0.

However, the Assocation has not done Walleye stocking on the lakes since 1992. MNR studies had determined that stocking Walleye on lakes that have a native Walleye population could be counter-productive, actually decreasing fish stocks over time.

Fisheries scientists have determined that the supplemental planting of domesticated fish on top of native fish might create competition between stocks, spread diseases, dilute the genetic make-up of native stocks, and eventually displace native fish.

While the Walleye levels in Bobs and Crow Lake remain very low, they have been increasing over the past 10 years. In 1997, a Fall Walleye Netting Index project showed 2.5 Walleye per net captured, and the number in 2002 had increased to 3.12 Walleye per net. A new survey will be done in a year or two and it is hoped that the Walley spawning bed improvements and other stewardship initiatives on the lake will lead to a further increase. Still, there is a long way to go. A Netting Index of 5 per net indicates low levels of Walleye in the lake, so Bobs and Crow Lake still have a long way to go.

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