Originally Posted by juro
I noticed the fin structure indicating streamborn from your photo, thanks for confirming. As Bill said, what went right was that you believed
Whitemans Creek, one of the best steelhead baby factories around, produces about 50,000 streambred fish a year plus the Nith river system (much larger than Whitemens) has significant numbers of cold water tribs suitable for steelhead breeding that they are now starting to use. There is no steelhead hatchery program for the Grand and the only fin clips we get are those that run up the Grand by mistake. I'm pretty certain that the Grand was originally colonized by fish from other systems quite some time ago, so we should be seeing the emergence of a particular Grand strain of fish.
Whitemans and other creeks have huge amounts of spring feeders that mitigate temperature plus Whitemans has many deep pools, that have been carve out by springs, that make for perfect over-wintering spots. Whitemans is a fish sanctuary from September 30th to the last Saturday in April so there's no fishing for these hold-overs nor is there any fishing over redds. The middle Grand season runs until December 31st.
This dam in Caledonia is acting as a selection device as only the best and strongest can make it up and over. It keeps those fin clip fish out of the genetic pool as most will have difficulty getting by. It's also pushing the peak fall run earlier into the system as these fish need a good flow rate and relatively warm water to get over. There were fish below Caledonia in late August this year.
The Grand at this point is a very wide river (you're seeing only about half the dam in this photo) so finding fish is a challenge despite the estimates that we're getting about 20,000 fish entering the system each year.
Currently their northward migration is halted by a dam in Paris but that dam is failing and one day they'll get by or someone will get a fish ladder built. Then the entire upper section up to the Shand dam will be available for breeding.