By Barb McKay
For the past three decades, a small group of volunteers and avid anglers has worked to preserve
The LHFC received a Trillium grant of $14,500 in Underwood on the weekend at the 30th anniversary celebration. From left are Michael Hahn, Mike Myatt of the Trillium Foundation, Al Wilkins and Brian Garnet of the LHFC and Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson. (Sean Casey photo)
This year, the Lake Huron Fishing Club (LHFC) marks its 30th anniversary. On Saturday, in Underwood, the club marked the occasion by accepting a $14,500 Ontario Trillium grant. The money will be used to purchase an emergency generator and make repairs to the Kincardine trout hatchery and stocking trailer.
The club boasts more than 400 members, some who don’t even live in
“There are likely as few as 20 volunteers that carry the club, the
The LHFC has undertaken several initiatives over the years, including the trout hatchery in Kincardine, salmon hatchery in Port Elgin, stream enhancements, environmental improvements and school projects.
“The LHFC has provided the ability for literally thousands of anglers and conservationists to get actively involved with fisheries improvement, fisheries protection and responsible, sustainable and ethical enjoyment of public fishery resources,” Wilkins said. “The LHFC has always focused on getting physically involved in every aspect of fisheries enhancement. Through our two fish hatcheries, which have stocked more than five million Chinook salmon and two million trout into Lake Huron, through the many stream improvement projects we have completed, through the 30 fishing derbies we have run as fundraisers, the many fish fries, raffle draws and boat slip rentals we use for fundraising we give our members and the general public an opportunity to get involved. The more people get involved, the more they care about protecting and enhancing our public resources.”
Three years ago, club member and volunteer Richard Elliott resurrected the school hatchery program. The club started with 13 schools, but this year, with support from other volunteers, including Wilkins, Bob Greason and Mike Blumhagen, and funding from Bruce Power, nearly 30 schools had miniature fish hatcheries in their classrooms.
“We have had tremendous support from the local municipal governments and local businesses for the work that we perform,” Wilkins said “We would not be able to continue without the community support and respect. Everyone benefits from this co-operation.”
The club approached Bruce Power earlier this year to form a partnership and the company jumped on board.
“Bruce Power almost immediately promised funding and support to allow the club to go back to its roots and work on stream rehabilitation, tree planting and other environmental stewardship programs,” Wilkins said. “The LHFC has always supported these initiatives, but lack of funding prevented the club from performing many of these tasks.”
And work is certainly needed.
“The introduction of aquatic invasive species, such as zebra mussels, quagga mussels, spiny water flea and gobies, have had tremendous impacts,” Wilkins said. “Alewife populations have crashed and smelt populations are a fraction of what they used to be. This reduction in prey biomass has greatly affected the distribution, numbers and size of predator fish such as salmon, trout, walleye, bass and perch. The resurgence of double crested cormorant populations has had large effects on near shore fish populations.”
The government’s commercial fish harvest regulations is affecting fish populations and distributions, Wilkins said. Decreasing water levels and warmer winters are affecting
While ecosystems change and new threats to the lake and fish populations continually appear, the LHFC continues its preservation efforts.
“The LHFC has a vast store of local fishery and angling knowledge that we make available wherever it may be of use,” Wilkins said. “Without a doubt, the populations of Chinook salmon, rainbow trout and brown trout in
Anyone who is interested in getting involved with the club can visit its website at www.lakehuronfishingclub.com.