We’re very happy to welcome our 2019 student crew members to the CRSA team! Working with us this year is Aaron Krick who comes all the way from Ontario to enjoy Cape Bretons beautiful scenery and sport fishing scene, Keats Doucette, a Cheticamp native who is currently living in Manitoba but has joined us this summer to gain some hands on experience in the field of species and habitat conservation, and Marcus Larade, an avid outdoorsman and resident of Cheticamp. We’re looking forward to a safe, fun, and productive summer with our new student crew!
Thank you to everyone who came out to our father's day youth fishing derby this past Sunday! Congratulations to all of our winners and participants! A very special thank you goes out to our local businesses for their generous prize donations and Robert Leblanc for providing us with a wonderful venue for this event.
Join Big spruce Brewing Company along side the Ocean Tracking Network this summer in helping to conserve our aquatic species!
Big Spruce will be donating 50 cents to environmental initiatives across Nova Scotia for every can of their "Tag! You're It!" beer sold.
A great way to cool off and help in keeping our aquatic environments pristine this summer!
Please consider clicking the link below to nominate the Cheticamp River Salmon Association for funding through this initiative so we can continue our work in the conservation and responsible management of Atlantic salmon and native trout species!
Join Parks Canada and members of the Cheticamp River Salmon Associate this weekend at the Cheticamp Highlands National Park to celebrate the International Year of the Salmon!
2019 is the International Year of the Salmon and we here at the Cheticamp River Salmon Association couldn’t be happier to be playing a crucial part in the rehabilitation and conservation of Cheticamp’s local salmon population. Check in regularly to our facebook and news pages to stay up to date on our latest projects and events!
The Cheticamp River Salmon Association and its Parks Canada partners completed their fifth and final year of instream work on the Cheticamp River in August. This year’s work has brought the total number of instream structures installed over the years to 70. The majority of these structures - mostly rock retarding bars (or groynes) and deflectors - were installed in sections of the lower river where the channel had become critically overwidened.
The 2018 instream work focused on three sites on the lower Cheticamp River: Faribault Brook (work took place on the Cheticamp River, above the confluence with Faribault Brook), Below Fence Pool, and at Petit Cap. Fish passage at these sites was not only limited by overwidened channels, but also split thalwegs, mid channel diagonal bars, and excess bedload deposition.
These three sites had all been worked on in previous years of the Cheticamp River project, but revisiting them was important in order to address changes to the river that occurred as a result of a major flood three years ago (August, 2015). By adding an additional five instream structures (2 rock retarding bars, 2 deflectors, and a sill) and carrying out maintenance to some of the previously installed structures (4 rock retarding bars and a deflector), the restoration team is hoping to improve fish passage in some cases, as well as maintain the benefits achieved during the first few years of the project.
Seeing this project through to completion has been a major achievement for the Cheticamp River Salmon Association, and the timing was crucial. Human impacts (including past logging - pre the formation of Cape Breton Highlands National Park) had resulted in the channel becoming drastically over-widened in places along the lower river. In low water conditions, these wide, shallow areas were creating significant problems for migrating salmon. And low water conditions – once uncommon during the spring salmon run – have become a regular occurrence. The current trend of warmer winters and drier springs combined with less rainfall, contributes to lower water levels and higher water temperatures during the salmon migration. Without intervention, these human induced environmental conditions would continue to impact Atlantic salmon and other migrating fish, and the Cheticamp River’s important spring salmon run and the recreational fishery that it supports would eventually be lost.
While the Cheticamp River restoration project wouldn’t have been possible without the support and collaboration from Parks Canada (Cape Breton Highlands National Park), a dedicated group of project partners who have supported the project since its start back in 2014 are also to thank for its success. These project contributors and funders include the Nova Scotia Salmon Association’s NSLC Adopt-a-Stream Program, the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation, Sage Environmental Program, and the Atlantic Salmon Federation. Other funders who contributed to one or more years of the project include DFO’s Recreational Fisheries Partnership Program, Nova Scotia Power Inc., and Service Canada’s Canada Summer Jobs Program.
While it won’t be building structures in the Cheticamp River again any time soon, the CRSA has no intention of sitting idle. The Association is already partnering with Parks Canada on a water temperature study of the river and the Cheticamp reservoir, and this fall the CRSA is proposing its first official salmon redd count (redds are fish spawning nests) on the Cheticamp River. Volunteers will be needed, and a training session will be held later this fall. More information on this will be made available in the coming weeks.
It’s time to get the waters flowing again! For the past few weeks Yvon (and the chainsaw) have joined the team to help us clear the waterways and gather material for more long-term installations. Once the sites were identified, with photos and notes gathered, we set off to Aucoin Brook and then Fiset Brook to do the work.
Starting in Aucoin Brook, we had to find the right trees for the digger logs we were to install later in the season. This can sometimes take a lengthy amount of time, as there is a lot to consider. Finding a straight, recently fallen tree, within close proximity to the site is the ideal (and then is it long enough?). Once the right tree has been chosen, we measure, cut, clear and drag it to the site to be used in the future.
Other jobs on the Aucoin Brook were clearing debris that may continue to clog or inhibit flow. The crew cleared much of the leaves and smaller debris before Yvon arrived so that it was easy cutting for him. More logs were set aside to block a section of the brook from becoming further divided.
This week some serious clearing happened in Fiset Brook. The crew spent an entire morning clearing the first site with Yvon’s help (and still more to be done!) A channel switch, and an eroded bank are just two possible causes for the amount of debris to build over time. We are thankful for Yvon’s help, as we couldn’t do it without him.
This week we held our annual Fly Fishing Workshop in Grand Etang. This is the first time that the CRSA opened the workshop to the community. Traditionally, the workshop is held at schools and is open to students only. The CRSA is pleased with the interest from adults and families in the area. The workshop was led by Lewis Hinks and Rene Aucoin. Hinks works for the Atlantic Salmon Federation, as the director of programs for Nova Scotia and he is an experienced mastercaster. Aucoin is the founder of the CRSA, and also holds many years of experience in fly-fishing.
Unfortunately, the temperature was too warm to fish on the water. In warm weather, the fish experience stress and their mortality rate increases. Although the conditions were too warm to fish, participants enjoyed learning in the sun at the field behind St. Joseph du Moine.
In addition to learning how to fly cast, participants learned how to tie leaders and hooks. Participants were happy to receive one-on-one instruction from Hinks and Aucoin on how to improve their casting technique.
We are excited to be partnering with Master Fly Casting Instructor Lewis Hinks to offer introductory fly casting workshops in Cheticamp! These workshops will provide an introduction to the exciting world of sport fishing. Participants will learn the basics of fly fishing, with instruction and hands-on learning experiences with tying fishing knots, techniques for casting, and opportunities to practice hooking and releasing live fish. No prior experience is required in order to participate in the workshops. All that is needed is comfortable clothing, sunglasses or safety glasses (to provide protection for participants' eyes), and an interest in having a unique and exciting experience.
Lewis Hinks has over 40 years of fly fishing experience, and has been teaching fly casting for the last five years. While Lewis enjoys introducing beginners to the sport, he also looks forward to opportunities to provide feedback and coaching to experienced anglers. Participants can sign up for a morning (9-12pm) or afternoon (1-4pm) workshop. Workshops will take place on July 31 (rain date of Aug. 1) in Cheticamp. For more information on this event, contact the Cheticamp River Salmon Association at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone CRSA President Rene Aucoin at 902-224-5854.
Come experience fly fishing in Cape Breton and get hooked with us!
The Cheticamp River Salmon Association is able to put on this workshop with help from Destination Cape Breton Association.
This past month we have continued collecting data for our water temperature study in the Cheticamp River and Cheticamp reservoir. This study is being done with our partners at Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The purpose of this study is to record temperature fluctuations in the river and reservoir and determine the impact of these fluctuations on aquatic species. Below are some photos of the summer crew installing the temperature probes at various locations. The probes are installed at different depths (surface vs. bottom) and in different sections of the river (riffles, pools, runs). The probes will be collected in September.
This past Sunday was our Annual Youth Fishing Derby. Despite the event being postponed from the previous weekend due to poor weather conditions, the CRSA was pleased with the amount of young anglers and their families that participated in the derby. Robert Leblanc kindly volunteered his pond in Plateau for the event, where there was no shortage of fish for the young anglers. This event, open for participants ages 16 and under, is an opportunity for youth to get outdoors and try out the sport. In addition to the fishing, there was a BBQ and refreshments, as well as prizes for the biggest fish caught (measured by weight).
Special thank you to Robert LeBlanc for hosting the event. And to the local businesses who generously donated prizes for the top anglers. Finally, thank you to the families who came out and helped make this fishing derby another success. We hope to see you again next year!
Petit Lac being stocked with fish for our fishing derby this weekend! Our annual fishing derby will run from 8:00am- 12:00pm on Sunday June 3rd at Petit Lac, Grand Étang. There will be prizes for top youth anglers (ages 16 and under) and a free BBQ!
We hope to see you there!
Please note: Petit Lac will be closed from Wednesday May 30th- Sunday June 3rd @ 6:00am for the derby
My name is Catherine Thompson and I will be the Stream Restoration Crew Lead for the upcoming summer. I am originally from Ontario but I am studying at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish. I am majoring in Aquatic Resources and will receive my undergraduate degree in 2019!
In this position I will be leading a group of 2 other students in habitat restoration work in the Chéticamp River. This includes water quality monitoring, stream assessments, improvements to fish passages, and the development and maintenance of in-stream structures. I am excited to be working as part of a team and to gain hands-on experience in conservation and restoration efforts. Throughout the summer we will be sharing updates to this website and to our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CheticampRiverSalmonAssociation/
With May quickly wrapping up, we've decided that it's time for an important update on what the Cheticamp River Salmon Association is planning for our 2018 field season.
To start, we're excited to be continuing to partner with Cape Breton Highlands National Park to expand the water temperature study that we initiated last year, and to complete additional instream restoration work on the lower Cheticamp River.
The water temperature study we conducted last year focused on the Cheticamp River as well as the Cheticamp reservoir. Working with our Parks Canada partners, we deployed water temperature probes at key locations along the Cheticamp River and also at different depths in the Cheticamp reservoir (we were interested in whether a cold water layer exists at lower depths). Parks Canada also shared their historical water temperature data with us so that we could look for possible trends (e.g., warming or cooling).
After analyzing our data, reviewing our methodology, and discussing results with our project partners, we collectively decided that the study should continue in 2018. An additional season of data will help give us a better understanding of the Cheticamp River's water temperature profile as well as the situation at the reservoir. We will be providing updates once we get started on this important second phase of our study!
In addition to our water temperature study, we will be working with Cape Breton Highlands National Park to address a number of loose ends in our habitat restoration project focused on improving fish passage on the lower Cheticamp River. Issues including extreme weather events (see our post on the flood in 2015) and shortened windows for instream work have meant that there is still some work to do to restore impacted habitat and remove potential barriers to fish passage at a few key sites along the lower Cheticamp River. Once our lead project consultant completes his spring site visits and provides an updated restoration plan for the Cheticamp, we will share details about this upcoming work.
Outside the Cheticamp River, we also have plans to improve fish passage on two smaller watercourses: Aucoin Brook (a tributary of the Cheticamp River), and Farm Brook (located just south of Cheticamp). Both of these brooks require the use of heavy equipment to remove blockages of large debris and open sections of infilled channel that have created serious problems for migrating fish. In addition to the heavy equipment work, we are also in the process of hiring students to work as part of our habitat restoration work ctew this summer. This team will be busy with a variety of work projects, including helping conduct water quality monitoring, carrying out maintenance to existing instream structures, and installing new structures as required. Stay tuned!
We had another busy and productive field season here in Cheticamp this year. Thanks to the continued support and financial help from our project partners and funders, the Cheticamp River Salmon Association was able to continue work on important existing projects as well as take on some exciting new work in 2017.
In particular, we would like to thank the following for helping make this another successful year: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (specifically funding from DFO's Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnership Program and staff from the Conservation office in Cheticamp for their inkind contributions to our water temperature study), the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation, Nova Scotia Salmon Association's NSLC Adopt-a-Stream Program, Parks Canada (specifically, staff at Cape Breton Highlands National Park for co-managing our Cheticamp River project and making important inkind contributions), Sage Environmental Program, the Cheticamp branch of the RBC, Destination Cape Breton Association, the Atlantic Salmon Federation (inkind contributions from Lewis Hinks, Director of Programs for Nova Scotia), and the Clean Foundation and Service Canada's Canada Summer Jobs Program for help hiring summer staff.
Below are some highlights of the work we accomplished this year:
2017 marked our fourth year of habitat restoration work on the lower Cheticamp River, undertaken in partnership with Cape Breton Highlands National Park (CBHNP). This year our habitat restoration team installed thirteen new instream structures (a combination of rock deflectors and rock retarding bars, or groynes) and carried out maintenance work to two existing structures. The structures were installed at three works sites, above Fence Pool, below Fence Pool, and at Petit Cap (Gauge station). The restoration plan, designed by stream restoration specialist and former DFO Habitat Coordinator Charles MacInnis, called for the installation of structures at key locations to encourage the river to gradually narrow and deepen through overwidened sections, process bedload in locations where extreme bedload deposition had occurred, and improve fish passage through areas where divided thalwegs and mid-channel diagonal bars restricted upstream migration of Atlantic salmon and trout.
One of the many ways that Parks Canada staff at Cape Breton Highlands National Park contributed to project on the Cheticamp River was by capturing before and after drone footage of the project work sites. The aerial photos and video are part of our efforts to document project achievements and evaluate the effectiveness of the instream work.
In addition to the instream work on the Cheticamp River, the CRSA also partnered with CBHNP to carry out a water temperature study on the Cheticamp River and the Cheticamp reservoir (source of the Cheticamp River and part of NS Power's Wreck Cove hydroelectric project). Both were interested in better understanding water temperatures on the Cheticamp River and at the reservoir as salmonid fish (including Atlantic salmon and trout) are sensitive to water temperature as it affects the availability of dissolved oxygen in the water and the metabolic rates of the fish. The combination of climate changes and unnaturally overwidened sections of the lower Cheticamp River – locations that result in warmer water temperatures due to the shallow depths, as well as insufficient depths for fish passage – has raised concerns about how water temperatures may be affecting the health of Atlantic salmon and native trout species on the Cheticamp River.
The CRSA installed submersible probes to collect water temperature data at various locations on the Cheticamp River and at different depths through the water column in the reservoir.The CRSA also hired Gabrielle McLaughlin, a recent biology graduate from St. Francis Xavier University, to help carry out the study and prepare a report (still in progress) of the findings.
While not working onthe Cheticamp River, the CRSA was also busy getting work done on a number of smaller watercourses in and around Cheticamp. For example, Kayla Blackwood, a 1st year NSCC Natural Resources Environment Technology student, was working as the CRSA's Habitat Restoration Crew Supervisor, leading a variety of projects on Aucoin Brook, a tributary of the Cheticamp River. Kayla and her one man crew were able to get an impressive amount of work done, including removing blockages, carrying out maintenance to existing instream structures (mostly digger logs and deflectors), installing brush mats, helping with riparian planting, and conducting water quality monitoring. In addition to the work on Aucoin Brook, the CRSA also carried out some important fish passage work on Fiset Brook, and began fish passage work on Farm Brook (to be completed in 2018).
Check back for updates on the results of the water temperature study as well as plans for next year. Hopefully we can continue to work with our partners to take on more interesting and important projects!
We attended to the Adopt a Stream training program and Amy Weston taught us the significance on digger logs and how to build one at the Centre of Arts in Inverness. It was divided into 2 groups and each group has built and placed a digger log at More Brook, and everyone learned how to use various tools and got the chance to try them. - July 10th, 2017
An experienced angler and past president of the Margaree Salmon Association (John Hart) from Margaree and a master fly casting instructor (Lewis Hinks) from the Atlantic Salmon Federation offered their time and shared their knowledge and expertise on how to fly cast. The workshop began with Lewis Hinks teaching how to fly cast and the proper techniques to be used. After practicing on how to fly cast properly, the students quickly got the hang of it and began to test their fly fishing skills at Joel Camus’ pond. Before everybody fished, John Hart taught how tie a fly onto the line by demonstrating. Every student had caught at least 2 trout each and were excited and filled with joy after hooking on to one. - June 28th 2017
On the week of June 19, the Cheticamp River Salmon Association (CRSA) organized a tree planting event for the purpose of aquatic habitat enhancement. Along with help from Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Cheticamp branch, Parks Canada staff as well as grade 3-4 teachers and students from NDA. The goal of this project is to contribute to our community by planting 1000 native specie trees in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park and various locations within the Cheticamp area.
It is important to note that Nova Scotia is over 70% privately owned property, meaning that we the people are responsible for over 70% of what happens to our environment. This can be from a lack of knowledge, improper forestry activities, climate change, or a lack of disregard. Planting trees is a solution, but it should not replace protection of the remaining natural areas. Many wetlands, woodlots and other natural ecosystems are threatened by development, especially within and around urban areas. A healthy forest enhances the ecosystem as well as the quality of human life. Our plan is to plant the trees at least 20 meters from a watercourse, this is called a riparian area. A riparian area is a section of land that is adjacent to ditches, streams, brooks, lakes, and different types of wetlands. These areas support a mixture of vegetation, from trees and shrubs to emergent and herbaceous plants. The vegetation in riparian areas directly influences and provides important aquatic and terrestrial habitat. They are also important for stream bank stabilization; erosion control, the roots from the trees help support the banks along a watercourse. They also lower water temperature; with the increase in shade the water stays cooler for the fish and other aquatic life in the watercourse. Provides shelter for fish and a source of food from the insects, leave litter, and other organic materials that fall into the water from the vegetation above. Over the past few years Cape Breton has experienced flash floods that have lead to extensive damage of not only residential areas but forested areas as well, an example of this would be the lower half of the Cape Breton Highlands Nation Park which is also where we planted. Much later these trees can help with flood prevention. The mature vegetation along the watercourse helps to slow down or block the water from coming though.
The Acadian Forest Region grows over most of the Maritime Provinces, the Acadian Forest is closely related to the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Forest and to a lesser extent, the Boreal Forest. Red spruce, along with yellow birch, sugar maple, red pine, eastern white pine and eastern hemlock are just a few of the tree species native to the Acadian forest. Thanks to the RBC for providing us with the funding we were able to purchase and plant 1000$ worth of these Acadian forest species. The CRSA purchased the tress from Scott & Stewart Forestry, which is a tree nursery located in Antigonish.
On June 21 and 22 roughly 500-600 trees were planting in the camp ground and on the salmon pools trail. A big thanks to the hard work and dedication by Chris and his crew from Parks Canada who not only helped us plant but also helped us prepare the site for planting. We could not have done it without their support. Thank you to the RBC for allowing us to take part in such a rewarding community project and to be able to give back by making a difference. Also, for taking the time to come down on a Friday evening and plant with us. We also want to thank local landowner, Arthur Cormier, for providing us the space needing to make this venture a success.