Choo-Wing, a research assistant at Biotactic, holds one of the fish
pulled from the Welland River during a Niagara Peninsula Conservation
Authority fishing derby Saturday morning.
ALLAN BENNER Staff Photo
Fish able to cope with Welland River's challenges
FISHY BUSINESS: NPCA studying river's population
Posted By ALLAN BENNER , TRIBUNE STAFF
Posted 2 days ago
It might look dirty, but the Welland River is a great place to raise a family -- if you're a fish.
After about eight years of studying the diversity of aquatic
life in the Welland River, scientist Dr. Chris Bunt, from Biotactic
Inc., said the variety of fish species caught by anglers in the river
has shown that the fish are able to cope with the unique challenges
they face in the river.
Some of the challenges faced by various fish species include
the reverse water flow when a hydro siphon kicks in, as well as the
siphon that diverts the flow of river water under the old Welland
Many species he was concerned about have been pulled from the river, healthy and happy in the muddy water.
Bunt's research firm was contracted by Niagara Peninsula
Conservation Authority to study the diversity and health of fish
species in the river.
Over the past several years, Bunt said they've learned a lot about the health of the fish in the river.
Every summer the conservation authority has been host to a
fishing derby, getting as many as 200 young anglers to cast their lines
into the river and catch as many fish as they can, so those fish can be
tagged and released back into the water. That event has helped Bunt and
the conservation authority keep track of the river's species.
"What we really have is some interesting movement data," he
said. "If we went back and looked at the size of the fish when they
were tagged as opposed to when they were recaptured, we'd get some good
information on how they are growing. It's a good reflection on their
overall health and the amount of nutrients that are in the river."
Saturday morning, they were back again along with about 80
children who registered for the fishing event, despite the threatening
weather. The weather also meant an early end for the derby when a
thunderstorm started at about 10 a. m.
The fishing wasn't bad for many of the young anglers who participated.
Dakota Boyle, 8, caught a few too, including the only yellow
perch brought in that morning, and the largest fish too -- 88mm long.
Continued After Advertisement Below
In the 45 minutes or so that Dylan Koros, 13, got to fish before the storm arrived, he caught three nice-sized fish.
For Bunt, the exercise meant he had 15 fish to tag and release Saturday -"half as many as last year."
But it was still enough to help the conservation authority
increase its understanding of how the fish species are coping in the
"I think we've learned a fair bit about how the fish respond to the bi-directional flow in the river," he said.
"One of the reasons people don't think this river is as robust biologically as it is because you can never see down through it.
The water's so muddy and with the poor water quality, people
just assume that there's nothing there because they can't see it, but
there are lots and lots of fish in there."
Jocelyn Baker, the conservation authority's watershed
restoration co-ordinator, said the organization will be returning to
the river, hoping to tag and release a few more fish this summer,
although it won't be a public fishing derby like the one held Saturday.
"We're going to do some netting," she said.
The tags have a phone number for the conservation authority.
Anyone who catches one of the fish can call the office, with
information such as the size of the fish and the location where it was
caught, and be eligible for a reward.
Article ID# 1653603