Wednesday, 25 March 2015 16:18

Southeast Alta. club saves trout from spillway’s spring run-off

Written by  Contributed by Rob Gardner
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Volunteers from the Medicine Hat Fish & Game Association use a seine net to capture rainbow trout at the bottom of the Bullshead Reservoir spillway. Volunteers from the Medicine Hat Fish & Game Association use a seine net to capture rainbow trout at the bottom of the Bullshead Reservoir spillway. Contributed

On March 14, 16 southeast Alberta conservationists gathered to rescue trout at Bullshead Reservoir.


When spring runoff fills the reservoir fish wash over the spillway. Unable to return to the reservoir, the rainbow trout are then confined to a small stream that generally dries up in the summer.
The volunteers, mostly members of the Medicine Hat Fish and Game Association, built a fish barrier that will prevent the fish from moving into distant parts of the creek. This allows a seine net to be used to gather the fish and relocate them back into the reservoir.
John Bilas of Alberta ESRD, supervised the project.
“Using a fish barrier to control the trout is a new approach,” he mentioned. “We will monitor the situation over the next few months to see how it works.”
Alberta ESRD Operations Infrastructure Branch, which manages the reservoir, provided approval in an effort to increase the recreational benefits of the reservoir, which is licenced for agricultural purposes.
Medicine Hat resident Jeff Wilson identified the problem several years ago, and worked patiently to secure the appropriate approvals. Tragically, he passed away just four weeks ago, without seeing his work come to fruition. Some of his friends participated to ensure this conservation effort endures as a legacy to his memory.
The fish barrier will enable volunteers to easily catch fish with a net. Club spokesperson Keith Pearce estimated that more than 200 trophy-sized trout will be saved each year.
As a down payment, a dozen rainbow trout, up to 53 cm long and weighing an estimated 1.3 kg, were captured and relocated on March 14.
Medicine Hat Fish & Game Association volunteers will capture trout over the next few months starting in April. Anyone wishing to help is encouraged to contact Keith Pearce at 403-504-0015 or e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Anglers please refrain from angling in these waters to allow the recapture team to return these fish to the reservoir.
Should any violations be noted on the reservoir or in the creek anglers are encouraged to promptly report these to 403-893-HELP (4357) to Dispatch Conservation Officers.

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