fish story 

Fish program spawning support The cold, rushing waters of 21 Mile Creek and the River of Golden Dreams are proving to be formidable foes in the quest to kick-off Whistler's first ever fish monitoring and tagging program. Members of the Whistler Angling Club have been waging an ongoing battle with the glacial waters of 21 Mile Creek as melting snow in the alpine has brought the water level up more than 40 centimetres in just over a week — forcing the club to reinforce the fish traps and nets across the creek. Thursday afternoon, a dedicated crew of anglers jumped in the icy water and, armed with ropes, reinforcing posts and rocks, secured the net to the creek bed and installed the traps to capture and tag spawning fish. Ian Fairweather, president of the Whistler Angling Club, says volunteers are needed to monitor the net in 21 Mile Creek and to remove debris from the net, probably twice a day. He says the Angling Club is also organizing an "adopt a neighbourhood stream" project to conduct fish counts in the other 11 trout streams in the valley. Whistler's first stream monitoring program is a joint project between the B.C. Ministry of Environment, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, the local Rotary Club and the Whistler Angling Club. The co-ordinated effort is a big step toward evaluating and then enhancing Whistler's once legendary angling potential. So far the 21 Mile Creek net has washed down and been repaired half a dozen times. If the latest effort is successful, the 21 Mile Creek trap should be up and running by today. The municipal traps, located at the weir near the Alta Lake end of the river, have been capturing fish since early this week. The other municipal trap, just downstream from the canoe pullout where the River of Golden Dreams flows into Green Lake, should be gathering fish data by today. Keith Bennett, parks superintendent with the RMOW, says the municipal trap at the canoe pullout near Green Lake lasted about 8-12 hours as debris gathered in the net and clogged it up. The water pressure built up and eventually ripped the net out. "We were using clothesline technology and we have to be using logging technology," Bennett says. Both traps have been redesigned so they can be lowered and the debris removed from the net. The fish trap that has been in place the longest and capturing spawning rainbow trout is the Rotary Club's trap on Crabapple Creek. According to Don MacLaurin of the Rotary Club, the results have been both encouraging and surprising as an average of almost two dozen fish have been in the trap every morning. "We're not a fishing club, so we are learning more and more every day," MacLaurin says. "We are delighted with the amount of community support and involvement we have got for the project." Because of the sensitivity of the local spawning beds, it is important to minimize the impact people have on the local fishery. To that end, the volunteers ask that dogs, people, bikes, 4x4s, and everything else be kept out of the River of Golden Dreams and Crabapple Creek over the next few weeks. While it might be fun to throw a stick for Fido to swim and catch, spawning beds are destroyed by Fido's feet — think about the fish.


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