Riding Mountain National Park
White Suckers (Catostomus Commersonii) play an important role in the environment of RMNP:
1. Great food source for other predatory fish like walleye and pike.
2. Help provide nutrient cycling
3. Their eggs provide food to different aquatic bugs. Large female fish can produce up to 300,000 eggs each year.
Why we study white suckers
The Bogey Creek project is trying to clear the way for these fish to spawn. We want to help them travel through human obstructions such as culverts, bridges, and dams. A project we have had great success with as the suckers are now moving past highway 10.
The shallow water makes Bogey Creek, Wasamin Creek, and Glen Beag great places to watch and learn about white suckers. Yet, they are sensitive to changes in water temperature and disturbance. Come learn about these animals up close, but please respect these important animals and do not disturb these areas.
A Sucker for Suckers!
Fish Habitat Improvements in Bogey Creek Help White Suckers Reach Spawning Habitat
White suckers (Assiniboine salmon in some circles) are a large bodied fish species that has a wide spread distribution throughout Canada. Clear Lake and many other waters here in RMNP have healthy populations of these aquatic ecosystem drivers!Like many other freshwater fish species, the white sucker spawns in the spring, favouring small streams or shorelines of lakes that are well oxygenated with gravel bottoms. Within the Clear Lake watershed there are several streams where white suckers can be easily observed ascending during the spring season to find suitable spawning habitat. One of the best creeks to observe this phenomenon in RMNP is Bogey Creek, which meanders through the Clear Lake Golf Course and the Wishing Well at the east end of Clear Lake.
At both the Clear Lake Golf Course and the Wishing Well site, modifications were made to the creek in a number of locations to facilitate traffic (vehicle, golf cart, foot) across the creek or hold back water through years of development. The construction of culverts, bridges, and dams often impede the movement of aquatic organisms, especially fish. Over the past few years, there have been significant improvements to fish habitat and riparian health along Bogey Creek. White suckers were restricted for many years to only the most downstream reaches, accessing only a small percentage of the available spawning habitat contained within Bogey Creek.
In the spring, white suckers “run up” Bogey Creek and can be easily spotted from the banks of the stream. This year they have been able to ascend through all of the ‘unnatural’ obstructions that in the past impeded their movement. Several hundred were even able to make it through the large culvert up past highway #10!!
Also keep in mind that the spring spawning window for many freshwater fish species and their eggs can be very sensitive to disturbance, whether it be sedimentation (muddy water that can smother eggs) or abrupt temperature changes. Be careful not to disturb these areas – think about your next fishing trip and how much better it will be if we let fish hatch and grow up BIG!
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