Friday, March 27, 2009

Rivers of Rainbows

It was a beautiful sunny afternoon friday as we picked up the eldest son from his preschool and as we had nothing particularily pressing we decided to take the boys for a short walk along the trail in the Bowmanville Creek Valley. Valleys 2000 along with Clarington and the local conservation authority got together and installed a paved multi use trail from Highway 2 in the north to Baseline Rd. in the south, about 2 kilometres worth. It is a nice little walk close to home in Bowmanville, and being paved it is great with the youngest in a stroller. About halfway along the trail you come to the Goodyear Dam. Goodyear rubber, which still operates on the east side of the creek once dammed the river for some purpose or another and the dam is still there. On the west side a fish ladder has been installed. As we walked along the trail we saw a few people gathered near the dam watching the river. Fish were jumping at the fish ladder! The Bowmanville Creek is used by Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Coho Salmon and Chinook Salmon. The only one of these that spawn in the spring is the Rainbow Trout. There were a lot of fish attempting to get up the ladder friday. They varied in size from about a foot long to a few giants that looked about three feet long. Watching these fish jump time and again only to be swept back by the strong current makes one marvel at the force driving them upstream. To the right of the fish ladder was evidence of how difficult this journey is for these fish; a half dozen lay dead on the cement shelf of the dam. Every few seconds the sound of a fish colliding with the structure around the ladder could be heard above the noise of the rushing water. Of course I did not have my camera with me!!
Soo.... saturday morning I bundled up Jake(my 4 month old son) in his stroller and went back down to the creek with my camera and tripod to document this wonder of nature, and lo and behold....not one fish was jumping!! So the question is what was different? They were both sunny days and about the same temp. It was less than 24 hours later so I don't think all the trout that were migrating had passed the dam. My best, somewhat uneducated guess is that the time of day makes the difference. Friday 4 pm, Saturday 12 noon. Maybe the angle of the sun doesn't let the fish see what they jumping at? I don't know! Anyways I did take a few photos. It was a nice sunny spring day! I will be back at different times of the day to attempt to figure out this fishy mystery and will report back!

The Goodyear Dam

The entrance to the fish ladder on the left

Dead Rainbows lying on the shelf beside the fishway

Most kids these days may learn about Salmon running upstream to lay their eggs in Science class, but if they are anything like myself, it really didn't impress me until the first time I saw it live. For me, that was on the Humber River in Newfoundland and the fish that were jumping were Atlantic Salmon. Not many will get the chance to travel down east or out west but most of us here in southern Ontario could get in a car on a weekend and drive to one of our local fish ladders to let our children see the show. Kids that learn about the outdoors are the ones who will care about the outdoors and use the outdoors.

The fish ladder at the Goodyear dam is accessible by the trail from either end of the Bowmanville creek trail. This will open a Google map of the valley.There is a parking lot at the south end off Baseline Rd. and one at the north end at the intersection of Highway 2(King St) and Roenigk Dr.
Another good spot to view these fish is at the fish ladder in Port Hope. This ladder is at Corbetts dam on the Ganaraska River. It is accessible from Cavan St just south of where it underpasses the 401.

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