Fish Tagging in Riding Mountain National Park
Why we tag fish in Bogey Creek:Riding Mountain National Park staff tag white suckers as part of a larger project with the Clear Lake Golf Course. The aim of this cooperative effort is to help maintain and improve spawning habitat for white suckers and to restore the streams running into Clear Lake.
Why suckers?Suckers are a bit underrated, however, we think they are great! These fish are an important forage species and are a favourite food item for other predators such as northern pike and walleye.
They are also great nutrient cyclers as they feed on minnows (dead or alive), aquatic invertebrates, fish eggs, or anything else they can find on the bottom of the lake.
What are we doing?
We are participating in a recapture study that assesses how many suckers use Bogey Creek for spawning each year. By tagging them, we can gain information to see if our stream restoration project is helping the fish.
Weighing and measuring the fish provides a better understanding of their overall health and helps determine if something in their habitat may be causing them stress.
Collecting the scales helps to identify the age of the fish and further understand the demographics of the spawning population. Determining at what age individuals become mature and how long they live for can be another important indicator of overall stream and lake health.
Tagging has helped us understand the spawning habitats of these fish and learn that white suckers do not always spawn in the same waterways, making stream connectivity important. Since 2011, we have tagged 976 white suckers with small floy tags, and successfully re-captured 24 fish in two different streams.
By removing human obstructions and roadblocks, Riding Mountain National Park and the Clear Lake golf course have restored access to an additional 1.3 km of spawning habitat for white suckers in Bogey Creek, and improved water connectivity into Clear Lake.