Migratory Patterns of Rainbow Trout in the Saugeen River Watershed
The goal of this study is to investigate the migration patterns and passage success of rainbow trout within the Saugeen River watershed, with a focus on the impacts of the Truax Dam in Walkerton, Ontario. Baseline phases of this study were conducted in Spring 2018, Fall/Winter 2018/2019 and Spring 2019, and in each phase 50 adult rainbow trout were captured at the Denny's Dam fishway in Southampton and implanted with coded radio transmitters. These fish continue to be tracked throughout the watershed (Saugeen River and associated tributaries) using a combination of mobile telemetry, fixed tracking stations, and aerial telemetry surveys. The data collected to date has provided valuable insight regarding inter-seasonal and inter-annual variation in rainbow trout movement timing and motivation, use of spawning areas and other habitats, and the impact of potential barriers (Denny's Dam, Truax Dam, Carrick Dam, Maple Hill Dam) within the Saugeen River for continued upstream migration.
The Truax Dam was removed in August 2019 as part of a fisheries offset and compensation project. Future post-removal phases of this study will provide data that will be compared to baseline information to assess the impact of the removal of this barrier on the Saugeen River rainbow trout population. The first post-dam-removal study was initiated in Fall 2019 with seasonal tagging and/or tracking of tagged fish scheduled to continue into 2023.
We also animated the radiotelemetry dataset collected in Spring 2018 (here) to provide a visual representation of upstream and downstream migration and to illustrate the blockage effects that the four dams have on Rainbow Trout passage in the Saugeen River.