Rainbow Trout Migration Patterns in the Saugeen River Watershed

The goal of this study is to investigate rainbow trout migration patterns and passage success within the Saugeen River watershed, with a focus on the impacts of the removal of the Truax Dam in Walkerton, Ontario. Baseline phases of this study were conducted in Spring 2018, Fall/Winter 2018/2019 and Spring 2019. 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 migration patterns 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.

Find additional details regarding the fisheries offset and compensation project here, the biomass electrofishing survey component of this project here, the redd count survey component here, and the videographic survey component here. A summary of all project findings to-date can be found here.

We also animated the baseline radiotelemetry dataset collected in Spring 2018, Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 to provide a visual representation of upstream and downstream migration and to illustrate the seasonal blockage effects that the four dams have on rainbow trout passage in the Saugeen River. Post-dam removal datasets will be animated and made available in the coming months.

Click to view Spring 2018 telemetry:

trout telemetry
Click to view Spring 2019 telemetry:

Click to view Fall 2018 telemetry:

News coverage of this project:

fish surgery rainbow trout
mobile fish tracking
radiotracking rainbow trout
aerial fish tracking