MNR stocking Lake Simcoe to keep fish population sustainable
Heather Wright, CTV Barrie
Published Tuesday, October 22, 2013 7:21PM EDT
Lake Simcoe has always been a hotspot for anglers because of its wide range of fish. But some species need a helping hand.
Thousands of whitefish are being trucked from the Ottawa area to their new home this week – more than 140,000 in fact. Those fish will be in Lake Simcoe by Thursday night as the Ministry of Natural Resources begins to stock the lake with whitefish fingerlings.
“We started the restocking program in the late ’80s when we noticed that natural reproduction was greatly decreased, so … we realized we had to stock these fish because they weren't reproducing on their own,” says the MNR’s Wil Wegman.
The entire stocking process begins each fall. MNR staff take fish from Lake Simcoe, fertilize the eggs and raise them at the Whitelake Fish Culture Station near Ottawa. A year later, they're brought back and released.
“Each individual fish is clipped with a different fin clip so that anglers and MNR staff and researchers are able to tell that this was a stocked fish,” Wegman says. “Even at an adult size it will have one of those fins clipped.”
The hope is that one day the whitefish population will be able to reproduce on its own.
“When these white fish are doing well in the lake it’s a sign the lake ecology is doing well.”
The MNR stocks whitefish and lake trout in Lake Simcoe every year, and it's not just for the environment.
“The economy right through the whole Lake Simcoe watershed area depends on a vibrant fishery in Lake Simcoe,” says Scot Davidson, owner of Bonnie Boats in Jackson's Point. He says especially in the winter, fishing is vital to the economy.
“From ice fishing comes your bed and breakfasts, your restaurants, your bait shops, gas stations, everything that goes with a vibrant fishery and just due to our proximity to Toronto the influx of people that come in are huge for the local economies.”
MNR staff will be releasing half the fish at Jackson's Point and the other half at Hawkestone. The hope is that the fish will eventually spread evenly throughout Lake Simcoe.