Have you noticed a decline in the size and number of fish in your lake? While some of the trends affecting our freshwater fish are global, some of the big fixes can happen right off your own dock.
Up your shore’s cool factor
Restoring the native plants that once lined the riverbanks, streams, and wetlands is a smart move, says Cindy Chu, a research scientist with Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Anything that shades the water will be a boon for fish stressed by the warmer waters that climate change is bringing. Shady rivers can be as much as 5°C cooler than those with full sun, she says.
Go au naturale
Many cottage associations can offer tips about which shoreline species to plant, she says. And the Love Your Lake program, developed by the Canadian Wildlife Federation and Watersheds Canada to help improve water quality, cautions against mowing, using fertilizers, or removing woody debris. The program offers assessments of shoreline health and strategies for improving it, lake by lake, across parts of Canada.
Throw back the lunkers
Catch-and-release your prize, especially if it’s a large fish, in order to promote population growth. The Canadian National Sportfishing Foundation offers information about responsible fishing practices and links to each province’s rules.