Little Current fish and gamers build salmon, rainbow trout spawning pool at Bass Creek

The finished pool adds depth to the creek and is lined with gravel that the fish can use when they swim upstream to spawn.

SHEGUIANDAH – Manitoulin Streams Improvement Association, in partnership with the Little Current Fish and Game Club (LCFGC) and government funders, has completed another project on Sheguiandah’s Bass Lake Creek to enhance the spawning habitat for salmonids.

“It felt really good to get this done. There’s always little challenges, like water coming down that you have to divert to do work on the stream bed, but the crews did a great job and it didn’t take very long,” said Seija Deschenes, project co-ordinator at Manitoulin Streams.

Workers created a spawning pool for salmonids (which include salmon and trout species) as they move up Bass Lake Creek from Sheguiandah Bay on Lake Huron, upstream of the fish ladder. These fishes move inland to spawn and these improvements will support future generations of the fishery. 

LCFGC president Bill Strain told The Expositor that he first suggested the project three years ago. Since then, engineers have completed site designs, the non-profit has raised funds to complete the work and arranged for contractors to redevelop the site.

“It feels great to see this done. This is our fifth project on the river there; we’ve been working very closely with Manitoulin Streams and everybody is on the same page to get things done,” said Mr. Strain.

H and R Noble Construction Ltd. performed the work according to Holla Engineering and Environmental’s designs. Over three days, crews installed a trio of four-foot boulders, dug a pool using a hydraulic hammer and removed 750 cubic feet of bedrock, and added a foot-thick layer of spawning gravel between 1/4 to four inches in size.

The team grass seeded the area where equipment had passed into the stream to restore the greenery.

The total project cost about $21,800. LCFGC donated more than half of that amount—$13,500—and other funds came from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF)’s Canada-Ontario Agreement Fund and the Northeast Town.

“It’s been a great partnership working with LCFGC and (Northeast Town) to complete this and we’re grateful for the support,” said Ms. Deschenes.

A man staying at Whitehaven Resort near the worksite saw the work underway and offered a $500 donation.

Manitoulin Streams has done considerable work to Bass Lake Creek, including creating two other spawning pools, adding spawning gravel to a rock shoal that crews lowered, walleye habitat improvements in the lower creek and the fish ladder to allow salmonids to move upstream.

A large contingent of workers, many of whom were Manitoulin Island-based, took part in the rehabiliation work on Bass Lake Creek.

Upper creek improvements have included structures, boulder clusters for hiding, sweepers and gravel pools.

The non-profit has to work within MNRF-designated work periods, when water levels are lower and fish species are not spawning in the rivers. The work window runs from mid-June to the end of August.

An improved habitat also enhances both LCFGC’s and Manitoulin Streams’ educational efforts. They run outdoor day trips for Grade 4 students in eight Island schools every spring, COVID-19 notwithstanding, to teach children about conservation and the natural world.

“It gives us the opportunity to explain why we’re doing this work for future generations to still enjoy the various species. Our education program is very popular,” said Mr. Strain. 

“This will add another component where students will be able to see the pool and we can explain why we have installed it and talk about the different fish species that are able to utilize it in the spawning process,” said Ms. Deschenes.

There is no further work scheduled for Bass Lake Creek but Ms. Deschenes said that may change based on the stream’s conditions and future needs.

Mama and the kids signal their approval by ducking into the cool waters of the pool both during and after construction.

“The stream is almost complete, which is great. We’ve done a lot; maybe we’ll add some additional spawning gravel in some locations but for the most part it seems to be functioning quite well,” said Ms. Deschenes.

“Thank you to all of the businesses and individuals that helped us and contributed toward the project. We’re not a big club, only about 105 members, and we couldn’t do this without their support,” added Mr. Strain.