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thalweg

Fishing polluted waters?

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Hi,

 

I'm not trying to be a bummer here, but it's been bugging me for a long time.

 

I've recently joined my friends on a yearly, once a week fishing excursion that requires that we pick a new country to travel to and fish. Two years ago it was the bitter root river system in Montana (my inaugural trip with the gang). Years prior (before I joined them) it was Iceland, Caribbean salt, and nearly all central Europe i.e France, Germany Slovenia, Poland etc etc. They all live in various parts of Europe from Belgium to Poland, so Europe is a favourite.

 

Last year it was Canada (I was appointed guide). I couldn't help but sense their confusion and surprise when they came to our waters. Canada has seemingly done a great job of promoting our outdoors as clean and relatively untouched to visitor to our country and they came with that vision in mind. However, they kept asking me why the waters were dark and what is the floating foam? It never occurred to me to think of the waters as polluted as I have fished nearly every decent Southern Ontario Steelhead and trout river and just accept them as relatively clean (Saugeen, Beaver etc etc) with the only exception of the lower grand (I won't set foot in that water again...I can't help but think I'm wading in a river that is used to wash away at least a population of 500,000 daily trips to the bathroom...smells like poop mixed in with the scents of shampoo and conditioner.)

 

Anyways, I found myself making excuses...such as "oh thats just algae foam as a result of turbid pocket water...or ya, there's a lot of farms along this stretch." After a while however, I could sense that they just didn't believe me...and I figured that I was just brainwashed to think that the water quality is good and kinda felt ashamed that I recommended a visit to my local waters( which is why I want to get the opinions of others)

 

Are there any folks here that have the know on the general water quality of our popular steelhead and trout rivers?

 

To be fair and on Southern Ontario's behalf...most of the river systems they fish in Europe and Montana for that matter are mountain fed streams so maybe it's just the way it is in fertile farmland areas.

 

Thanks for any feedback or thoughts.

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Hi,

 

I'm not trying to be a bummer here, but it's been bugging me for a long time.

 

I've recently joined my friends on a yearly, once a week fishing excursion that requires that we pick a new country to travel to and fish. Two years ago it was the bitter root river system in Montana (my inaugural trip with the gang). Years prior (before I joined them) it was Iceland, Caribbean salt, and nearly all central Europe i.e France, Germany Slovenia, Poland etc etc. They all live in various parts of Europe from Belgium to Poland, so Europe is a favourite.

 

Last year it was Canada (I was appointed guide). I couldn't help but sense their confusion and surprise when they came to our waters. Canada has seemingly done a great job of promoting our outdoors as clean and relatively untouched to visitor to our country and they came with that vision in mind. However, they kept asking me why the waters were dark and what is the floating foam? It never occurred to me to think of the waters as polluted as I have fished nearly every decent Southern Ontario Steelhead and trout river and just accept them as relatively clean (Saugeen, Beaver etc etc) with the only exception of the lower grand (I won't set foot in that water again...I can't help but think I'm wading in a river that is used to wash away at least a population of 500,000 daily trips to the bathroom...smells like poop mixed in with the scents of shampoo and conditioner.)

 

Anyways, I found myself making excuses...such as "oh thats just algae foam as a result of turbid pocket water...or ya, there's a lot of farms along this stretch." After a while however, I could sense that they just didn't believe me...and I figured that I was just brainwashed to think that the water quality is good and kinda felt ashamed that I recommended a visit to my local waters( which is why I want to get the opinions of others)

 

Are there any folks here that have the know on the general water quality of our popular steelhead and trout rivers?

 

To be fair and on Southern Ontario's behalf...most of the river systems they fish in Europe and Montana for that matter are mountain fed streams so maybe it's just the way it is in fertile farmland areas.

 

Thanks for any feedback or thoughts.

 

The foam (if brown) is from high clay levels in turbulent waters.

Comparing waterways that travel through major urban centers to those that are miles from anything or anyone is apples to oranges. Not the same thing. Compare our rivers and streams to urban waterways around the world and they stack up very well. Comparing them to Iceland...not really the same thing.

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but comparing the Grand to a flowing cesspool of filth and human/animal waste... would be correct.

Edited by Gerritt

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The foam (if brown) is from high clay levels in turbulent waters.

Comparing waterways that travel through major urban centers to those that are miles from anything or anyone is apples to oranges. Not the same thing. Compare our rivers and streams to urban waterways around the world and they stack up very well. Comparing them to Iceland...not really the same thing.

 

Thanks for the reply, and you are right it is apples and oranges. You bring up a good point as Urban area comparison is an important distinction.

 

Are you sure its clay? Some river systems that I've seen lots of floating foam are in lime stone areas as well.

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Contrary to popular belief we are a pretty filthy nation,we have polluted our waterways with paper mills,minning we have contaminated many of our prestine watersheds.We have wiped out 100's of lakes with acid rain, contaminated entire communities with mercury, built hydro dams wiping out species of wildlife.We continue these practices with diamond mines and oil production.Canada is not a leader in the enviromental protection game, we like to talk as though we care but our actions speak for themselves.If it comes down to $$$$$$$ or the enviroment we all know what wins this battle.Thank god we are a huge country with a small population.

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I was raised on the shore of Trout Creek just where it meets the Thames in St.Marys. Those waterways were our playground in the 50's. We didn't realize how bad the water quality really was in those days and it wasn't until the last few years when I got back into fishing that I began to realize what a good job we've done of cleaning up the waterways.

 

In the 50's there was raw sewage flowing into the river. That has been eliminated for the most part. The problem now is the effluent from farms and residential areas. The storm sewer systems are still washing too much noxious stuff into the waterways but short of banning cars that isn't likely to end. The farms have nutrient management requirements to follow but the field runoff of chemicals and manure is difficult to control. The result is that our waterways are now strangling themselves with weed growth promoted by the excess of nutrients running into the water.

 

The long and short of it is that wherever we go we wreck the water. We do a lot to mitigate the damage but we only really slow down the damage effects or just change the type of damage. Short of taking man off the earth I doubt things are going to get a lot better. It's just not in our nature to do without our cars and our chemicals. Despite our brave talk we're really all about "me, me".

 

JF

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Your last line sums it up well. Mountain streams (or the Canadian Shield) have very low levels of base nutrients that are key to organic life (nitrogen, phosphorous). In northern ontario and mountain streams the nutrients in the system are generally really low and thus prevents significant organic growth (bacteria).

 

The grand river has more than enough nutrients to go around. There are several sources: dams, farming - runoff from animal waste and fertilizers, urban runoff...many more. This nutrient loading and the high temperatures of the grand river are ideal conditions for bacteria - yum yum. The problem with the bacteria is they reduce the level of dissolved oxygen making the river have less than ideal conditions for a lot fish.

 

I know for a fact that the effluent water from the Waterloo wastewater treatment plant has either the same water quality or better than the immediately upstream portion of the grand river during the summer months.

 

Basically the Grand River is bad news bears in the summer months.

 

Cheers.

 

This link may help

http://www.grandriver.ca/index/document.cfm?Sec=67&Sub1=2&Sub2=4

Edited by TubeJigger

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