brown trout in hand view of Cold Creek
Glen Hales photo

Fly fishers keeping Cold Creek a good habitat for trout.
(published by insidebelleville.com, Oct. 10, 2013)

John Seckar doesn't have to worry any more about crossing Cold Creek on his tractor and getting bogged down in the mud.

"The banks were eroding and he was in danger of getting stuck," says John Robinson, conservation co-ordinator for the Cold Creek Fly Fishers.

So the club made fixing the problem its project for 2013. It supplied volunteer labour and $1,000 in funding for the tractor crossing on Seckar's Loomis Road property west of Highway 30. The money was matched by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters through its Community Stream Stewardship Program.

fence
The crew at the tractor crossing

The program's co-ordinator supervised the work that was done after the Lower Trent Conservation Authority had reviewed the plans and granted a permit. The club undertakes a project every year along about a two-kilometre stretch of the Cold Creek running from the Goodrich-Loomis Conservation Area to Highway 30.

The Fly Fishers have lease agreements with a half-dozen property owners over that distance to access the creek over their land.

"Farmers aren't asked to put up any money [for work the club does]," Robinson said.

Over the years it has planted trees and stabilized stream banks using stone or cribbing.

fence
Claude Denis rakes the bed of smooth stones

"We've improved quite a bit of habitat in that creek," he said, as well the quality of water. "If we don't do that, then the trout habitat is going to disappear."

Club members fish for brown and brook trout and return what they hook.

"It's all catch and release," Robinson said. "It's a small creek and if we just took every fish that we caught, that would be the end of it very quickly."

The fish population is healthy and "there are big fish" to be caught, he said; the largest this year "was about 24 inches."

Robinson said "the fishing is very good in the conservation area" but Cold Creek "is not an easy creek to fish" for fly fishers, because it's small and there are overhanging branches which can present a problem when "you're whipping the line above your head."

The creek starts in the Castleton area, and flows east, passing through Goodrich-Loomis and Stockdale before reaching the Trent River at Frankford.

Most Cold Creek Fly Fishers' 50 or so members don't fish, Robinson said. They pay their dues, $60 a year, to support the club's work.

Robinson, a local artist, said members range from carpenters to corporate executives, and many of them reside outside Brighton, in places such as Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston and Peterborough.

From September to May, the club meets once a month at Bayside Secondary School generally to tie flies, hold workshops and seminars, and watch slide shows of fishing trips.

One week before the fishing season opens the last week in April, the club holds a Conservation Day to do small jobs around the creek, and on opening day, it stages its annual fund-raising dinner in Trenton.

"The creek is in much better shape," since Fly Fishers started 30 years ago, Robinson said. "What we've done mostly is kept the creek from eroding and getting wider and shallower."

Problems caused by cattle access and deforestation, common to creeks all over, used to be "a lot of trouble," Robinson said, but "farming practices have changed [and] the number of farmers with cattle has certainly gone down."

The no till method has also "diminished the amount of silt coming into the creek" he added.

Cold Creek Fly Fishers' mandate is to protect the section it uses "from degradation, and to pass on a creek that has a habitat that will sustain the trout," Robinson said.

"The trout aren't stocked. They're wild trout. If the habitat's lost, then the trout are lost ... It's a beautiful creek. People have to take care of it. We fish it and we take care of it."

 

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