Fish Spawning Studies Aid Kawartha Ontario Resorts

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A collaborative endeavour between volunteers, the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, members of Fisheries Management Zone 17 and the Trent-Severn Waterway is underway to study the spawning habitat of Walleye in the Kawartha Lakes, with the hope of maintaining and increasing fish populations, a valuable resource for area resorts.

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For many of the numerous lakeside resorts and fishing camps that dot the Kawartha Lakes shoreline, a healthy and abundant fish population is vital to their business. The most economically important fish in the Kawartha Lakes region is the walleye, also known as pickerel. It is a prized fish, the favourite of many a fisherman. "Fishing has always been very important to our cottage resort business and to the local tourism-based economy," states Andrea Childs, owner of Scotsman Point Resort (http://www.scotsmanpoint.com), a popular housekeeping cottage resort on Buckhorn Lake, in the Kawartha, Ontario. "For generations, families have come to our Kawartha resort for their summer vacation to enjoy Buckhorn Lake's excellent fishing. As well, many of our customers look forward to fishing weekends and to the fishing derbies that we put on every year. Last year, our resort guests caught many walleye - including a 7 ½ pounder, as well as 11 muskie measuring over 42", and lots of bass, perch and crappie. There is good fishing in Buckhorn and it is vital that we take care of this valuable resource," adds Childs.

This spring, in an effort to maintain and increase walleye populations in the Kawarthas, volunteers in the Peterborough and Kawartha Lakes region will be out looking for the species. Every night in April, they will be searching the area waterways for spawning walleye and studying the water flow and habitat where the fish are spawning. The biological information that volunteers collect will be given to the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) where it will be analyzed. This project is a joint effort between the MNR, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH), members of Fisheries Management Zone 17 and the Trent-Severn Waterway. With the assistance of volunteers, they hope to determine if there are ways to create more suitable areas for spawning by controlling the flow of water through the Trent Severn Lock system.

Four years ago, a similar project achieved great success. The project involved studying the decreasing walleye populations in Rice Lake. By watching the Rice Lake walleye spawn, biologists discovered that the fish responded to changes in the flow of water. By controlling the water flow from Trent Severn Waterway Lock 19, they could, in a way, manipulate where the fish spawned, greatly assisting the walleye in their spring spawning season. This year's project expands on the Rice Lake project and will focus on ten other Kawartha Lake sites on the Trent Severn Waterway, including Buckhorn, Bobcaygeon, Fenelon Falls, Young's Point, and Chemong Lake.

With serious studies like the Kawartha Lakes walleye initiative, sustainable conservation practises and decisive action, local fish populations will continue to thrive. Those in Ontario's tourism industry are well aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy fish population. "A few years ago, I was involved in a similar study on Buckhorn Lake," reports Childs. "Later, under the supervision of the MNR, I formed a group with a few of my neighbours to put in a new walleye spawning bed on a point next to my resort - a great team effort. It is heartening to hear that others appreciate the value of our fishery and that something constructive is being done about preserving it. Really what is an Ontario cottage resort vacation without fishing? Fishing and summer at a lakeside cottage go hand in hand. We have great fishing on Buckhorn, now it's going to be even better," notes Childs.

About Scotsman Point Resort: For over 60 years, Scotsman Point Resort has offered Ontario family vacations and romantic couples getaways at their friendly three-season Kawartha cottage resort. Situated on a private 12 acre point on beautiful Buckhorn Lake in the scenic Kawartha Lakes tourist region, approximately 1 ½ hours North East of Toronto, Scotsman Point is a housekeeping cottage resort with 25 lakefront cottages for rent, many recreational amenities, and conference and meeting facilities. To inquire about Scotsman Point's many specials and economical vacation packages including fishing packages, relaxation packages, and art workshops call 1-800-267-1310 or visit their web site http://www.scotsmanpoint.com.

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