The State of the Bow River Fishery – Trout Population Decline Update

August 31, 2018:

An Update of the original article published earlier this year

The previously reported Bow River Fish Populations Report documented the historical fish population surveys from 1980 to 2007 which at that time supported a sustainable fishery.  The recent retrospective analysis of Bow River Trout Population Surveys by University of Calgary researcher Chris Cahill, entitled, Multiple Challenges Confront a High-Effort Inland Recreational Fishery in Decline  has indicated that rainbow trout populations are in trouble. Data analysis showed that the Rainbow Trout populations may have declined by as much as 50% over a ten-year period from 2003 to 2013. The research indicated that:

“Despite uncertainty in both abundance and trend estimates, these results indicate that Rainbow Trout in the LBR (Lower Bow River) likely declined during both assessment periods. The median posterior estimates for a 10-year standardized population trend were -43.0% using Trendestimated from the 2003-2008 data, and -50.0% using Trend estimated from the 2003-2013 data. Since the size criteria for tagged fish (≥ 250 mm FL) corresponds approximately to the sizes of mature Rainbow Trout (Rhodes 2005), the estimated decline likely represents a large reduction in the number of mature individuals in this population. For example, The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) guidelines state that “in cases where the declines or its causes are unknown” a decline in the number of mature individuals ≥ 30% or ≥ 50% over a period of ten years would qualify a population as “threatened” or  “endangered,” respectively (COSEWIC 2018). Rainbow Trout in the LBR are naturalized (Gilmour 1950), and hence do not qualify for listing as per COSEWIC guidelines; nonetheless,  these criteria demonstrate the magnitude of the decline documented here”. 

Recent stakeholder engagement with  Alberta Environment & Parks has addressed an initiative to stop the decline in Bow River trout populations and hopefully  see improvements in the future.

fishing-fisheries-managment-NMDGF-monitoring-populations-Boat-Electrofishing-2

The first step to a recovery program  is to establish a baseline fish population index that will guide fishery management policy change.

During the weeks of September 10 and 17 AEP will conduct fish populations surveys on the Bow River using the electro-shocking technique.

Bow River Trout Foundation is committed to this process and believes that the first step should be to conduct Bow River fish population monitoring on a regular basis that will give an index for the “The State of the Bow River Fishery”

The State of the Bow River Fishery

The Blue Ribbon Bow River needs your help. Your donation will assist BRT initiatives to monitor fish population dynamics and advocate for fishery management change.

C$20.00

Calgary River Access Strategy – Shouldice Park Boat Ramp Opens

For the fishing community the ability to launch a trailered boat into the Bow River at Shouldice Park is a game changer. It allows for fishing from a drift boat over an addition 22 Km of Calgary’s Bow River. It more than doubles what was previous available from Graves Bridge down to Fish Creek Park.20180829_175327

The Shouldice Park boat ramp redevelopment was not considered a priority in the Calgary River Access Strategy. The redevelopment of West Baker Park and new boat ramps at Inglewood & Ogden Bridge were given priority. Unfortunately, engineering and instream work permitting delayed the roll-out of these projects until 2019. It became evident that a solution for upstream trailered boat access was needed, especially in light of the reopening of Harvie Passage in the summer of 2018. Thanks to an agreement between Calgary Parks and Calgary River Users’ Alliance members Bow River Trout Foundation, Alberta Outfitters & Guide Association of Alberta and Rocky Mountain Paddling Association a directive was put in place to open Shouldice Park as a public boat ramp.20180829_094419

The site selected was the same as that used by all river users prior to the 2013 flood. That is, an open area under the 16 Ave NW Bridge. With the removal of the cable barrier and limited excavating of the approach to the the river bed, access is now available to the public.

20160701_094719

There is adequate truck/trailer parking on 13 Ave NW east of the bridge for up to 10 vehicles provided cars use the assigned angled parking and parking lots within the park. The river access site under the bridge is for boat drop off only.

IMG_0553

 

A float trip from Shouldice Park to Graves Bridge/Glenmore will take 7 to 8 hours under the current Bow River Flows of 70 cms. For the fishing community who may not be familiar with the river. There are a number of  potential hazards en route to Grave Bridge:

 

Point McKay Storm Water Outflow – river left

Parkdale – river left on the right tail-out of the islands, upstream of Crowchild Bridge

10 Street NW – river right, the Surf Calgary site

Harvie Passage – The portage channel has insufficient width to operate the oars of a drift boat and potentially the rocks on each side of the drops during lower river flows constitute a potential hazard.

Ogden Bridge / Refinery Park – be aware of the concrete slabs scattered across the river and a 10″ pipe just under the surface of the water, river left, adjacent to Refinery Park concrete wall20180829_160736 (2)

Bonnybrook Water Waste Treatment Plant in-stream excavation work below the CPR Bridge.

All these sites can be found on the CRUA Google Map:

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the City of Calgary and specifically Calgary Parks Department for making the Shouldice Parks Public Boat Ramp Possible.

cityofcalgarylogo-01

 

The State of the Bow River Fishery – A Need for Water Management Change

The Bow River fishery needs a constant supply of cold clean water to sustain its future as a world recognized “Blue Ribbon Trout River”.

The management of water flows is controlled by the Province of Alberta within long standing agreements with TransAlta who control the hydro-electric dam infrastructure above Calgary, the City itself and the irrigation districts downstream.

Although Bow River flows are variable through the year, there has been extreme variations in flows during the spring and early summer of 2018. The impact on the sports fishery was enormous and potentially threatened the fish population itself. Changes were made to the water management protocol in July that have stabilizes flows, but the underlying operational proceedures that control the river flow are still in place. 

The document, A Need For Bow River Water Management Change, details the Bow River water management model, flood mitigation protocols and opportunities to stabilize river flows.

Bow River Trout Foundation is hopefully that our engagement with Alberta Environment & Parks, the water regulator and TransAlta, the hydroelectric power operator will see changes to water management operation in the upper Bow River that result in enhanced protection of the Blue Ribbon Bow Sports Fishery.

The State of the Bow River Fishery

The Blue Ribbon Bow River needs your help. Your donation will assist BRT initiatives to monitor fish population dynamics and advocate for fishery management change.

C$20.00

 

Bow River Instream Work – Bonnybrook Water Treatment Outflow Construction

Outfall Construction and Flood Resiliency

This new outfall is being upgraded to accommodate increased flows from the plant due to the expansion. It will be located just south of the Calf Robe Bridge and CN Rail river crossing. The outfall is also being extended a further 900m downstream system to provide further flood resiliency and includes an improved diffusion system in the river to enhance environmental performance.

To allow the installation of the new effluent diffusers in the river bed, a cofferdam has been installed south of the CN Rail river crossing to isolate the working area and protect the river from the construction activities. This cofferdam will temporarily decrease the width of the river in this location. The cofferdam will remain in place until April 2019 when it will be removed and the river restored to normal conditions.

A buoy line has been installed to allow safer passage for river users. Boaters and rafters are advised to exercise caution and follow the signs provided while passing through the area as the water velocities will be higher than normal.

In addition to the new outfall, we are constructing a new flood protection berm on the east side of the plant site. This will help prevent overland flooding of the site. The berm work also includes a new section of river pathway.

For further information go to the following web link:

http://www.calgary.ca/UEP/Water/Pages/construction-projects/Construction-projects-and-upgrades/Bonnybrook-Wastewaste-Treatment-Plant-upgrade-and-expansions.aspx

canstockphoto9827443 (1)

BRT One Fly Tournament – 2 Weeks Away

After the success of the inaugural tournament in 2017 we would like to invite Mike Mumbyyou to participate again this year. The 2018  One Fly Tournament will take place on Saturday, September 29, 2018. Anglers are invited to actively participate in the event, or enjoy a day on the river that will also support Bow River Trout Foundation’s initiatives to “Advocate and Support the Bow River Fishery”.

This year’s event will offer the following registrations:

Guided Trip – $600.00 will buy a fully guided boat for the day (up to 2 anglers). Registration closes September 23, 2018

Buy Now Button

Self-Guided Trip – $300.00 will allow participation with a self-provided boat (up to 3 anglers) Registration closes September 26, 2018

Buy Now Button

The Event Format:

KauscheA morning meet up to distribute lunches and facilitate final registration will be held at the Toad and Turtle parking lot off 130th Avenue SE between 7:30 and 8:30 AM. A reception for participants and the angling community at large will be held at the Toad and Turtle afterwards, beginning at 5:00 PM.

For anglers competing in the tournament,  awards will be presented at 7:30 PM. In order to qualify for awards participants must submit pictures and catch charts either in person or by email/text photo of the charts prior to 6:30 PM. Only participants present at the time of the awards presentation are eligible for prizes.

One Fly Tournament Rules OneFly rules – 2018

Please join us for what should be a great day on the water and a fun evening with friends both old and new.

For additional information please contact us at bowfish4653@gmail.com

Bow River Trout Foundation is planning to raise an estimated amount of $100,000 this year on fundraising campaigns. It will cost our organization $30,000 to raise this for a net return of $70,000. The money raised will be going to our commitment to improve river access and fishery management on the Bow River. For further information, please contact Peter Crowe-Swords at 403-680-8320. Our address is 3608 Beaver Road N.W., Calgary, AB, T2L 1X1 and we are incorporated in Alberta.

Bow River Flows – How Are They Controlled

The Bow River fishery needs a constant supply of cold clean water to sustain its future as a world recognized “Blue Ribbon” trout river.

The management of water flows is controlled by the Province of Alberta within long standing agreements with TransAlta who control the hydro-electric dam infrastructure above Calgary, the City itself and the irrigation districts downstream. On a weekly basis each of these parties meet to establish the water release rates through the upstream storage capacity to meet demand for water and federal minimum flow legislation. Water will be released or held back within the Bow River Basin storage capacity to meet projected demand.TransAlta Res Storage

Historically the need for consistent Bow River flows gave rise to a very productive trout fishery, but in recent years, floods, droughts and modification to the Bow River water management protocol have given rise to extreme changes in flow rates. Often as much as 50% drop or increase in flows within a very short time period as illustrated in the following flow chart.

Calgary Flws Weel jul 14

Why have we seen these dramatic changes in river flow in recent years? Principally due to a modified Bow River Water Management Protocol that empties Ghost Reservoir upstream of Cochrane in May to aid in potential flood relief to the City of Calgary and once the city’s exposure to this threat is reduced the reservoir is returned to normal operation capacity by the middle of July.Ghost Res July 20

Equally important is the containment of  rapid changes in river flows below Ghost hydro-electric power plant where flows can either increase or decrease rapidly due to power demand. This is achieved by the cushioning effect of the Bearspaw Reservoir.

Cochrane Flows Week Jul14

Unfortunately there appears to be a breakdown of the operation of the water management protocol for the week of July 15, 2018 where the extreme changes in flow destroyed the fishing downstream of Calgary and may have impacted the survival of the fishery itself.

Bow River Trout Foundation has been documenting the modified water management protocol for some time with meeting planned with Alberta Environment & Parks at the end of July to discuss potential changes that will enhance the fishery. But because of what we had seen this week we approached TransAlta with our concerns. The following documents our request and the response. Today we have seen a return to a more normal consistent discharge from Bearspaw that we hope will continue.
To TransAlta:
The rapid drops and increase in Bow River flows we have seen this week as illustrated in the attached weekly flows at Calgary has destroyed the fishing and may well have long term impact on the future of the Bow River as a world class fishery.  There is also evidence to suggest that the survival of trout can be compromised by flow variations of the nature that we have seen this week. It appears that Bearspaw Reservoir water management protocol is unable to cushion the fluctuations in water discharge from power generation at Ghost Reservoir.There is need to correct this mismanagement of our water resource before we see further depletion to a very vulnerable trout population that has seen significant declines recently. We trust that TransAlta recognizes the urgency to make changes to the Bow River water management operation procedures as soon as possible to alleviate further damage to the fishery.

The Response:

Bow River water level fluctuations over the past days are a combination of several factors, including extra generation due to hot weather and additional water inflows into Ghost Reservoir.  This type of wide fluctuation is outside the norm. We have taken steps to manage and correct these unusually large fluctuations and expect water levels to return to more moderate levels in the next few hours. We will provide updates as necessary.