BPSA ends year with Fin Clipping and lining up programs for new year

Just before New Year’s, there was a countdown at the Bruce Peninsula Sportsmen’s Association (BPSA) Fish Hatchery. No it wasn’t a countdown to 2024. It was all about fish, brown trout in fact.

Thirty volunteers counted thousands of yearling brown trout, then clipped their adipose fins. It was an assembly line of love dedicated to our sports fishery.

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The several thousand browns, many six or seven inches long, were raised at the state of the art hatchery west of Wiarton. The fish were netted and transported from the big tanks to trays where they were carefully clipped.  BPSA Fisheries Chair Kevin Harders says “We clip the adipose fin which is on the back, the last one before the tail fin. This does not affect the fish and is for identification purposes.”“It is a ministry requirement,” explained Alan Sutter, BPSA hatchery manager. “Any fish raised in an Ontario hatchery for more than 12 months must be fin-clipped.”

This requirement is set by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF). Fin clipping allows researchers and sportsmen to identify whether a fish began its life in a hatchery or spent its first year in the wild. When anglers catch a fish, one of the first things to be checked is if it has been clipped. Then it’s known if it was hatchery raised. The brown trout clipped recently, will be stocked in Colpoy’s Bay in January.

The Wiarton hatchery started as little more than an outdoor tank, fed by one stream, and partially protected by a roof. These days BPSA operates its modern hatchery on an annual budget of approximately $12,000. Half of this is provided by the Ontario Community Hatchery Program, which supports qualifying hatcheries across Ontario. The majority of the work performed by the club is done by members who volunteer their time. During an average year, 50 BPSA volunteers donate over 1,500 hours raising and stocking 75,000 Rainbow Trout fingerlings, 25,000 Rainbow Trout yearlings and 25,000 Brown Trout. Since the sixties, BPSA has stocked more than 4,000,000 fish to boost the sports fishery. In 2023, this 300-member conservation club stocked over 2,100 pounds of fish in Grey-Bruce waters.

“We are assisting sustainable recreational and sports fishing,” said Sutter. “We are proud of the work we do and a lot of people come to this area to fish.”

Sutter added that, “Anybody who wants a hatchery tour can contact us.  This Wiarton based conservation club is best known for fish stocking. However, we have other family-oriented programs that attract young and old. There’s our “Invasive Species Awareness – Boot Scrubber Program”, Stream Rehabilitation projects, BPSA youth and adult Archery, Tree Planting sessions, youth and adult Firearms Safety Training and our BPSA Handgun Club at our indoor range in the BPSA Clubhouse. Oh yes, don’t forget our open houses and the annual BPSA Kids Fishing Derby.”

Upcoming programs include the Ladies Firearms Safety program which begins January 28th, 2024 and runs every Sunday for six weeks starting at 6:30 pm. As a pilot project BPSA has dedicated the second Tuesday of the month at 6:45 pm for a members only rifle shoot. The first shoot is January 9th.

There’s also the Youth Firearms Safety Program which kicks off January 14th, 2024. It runs every Sunday for six weeks starting at 1:00 pm indoors at the BPSA clubhouse shooting range.

BPSA recently affiliated with the 100-thousand member Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters (OFAH). OFAH is the major Canadian lobby group representing the interests of anglers and hunters. The Federation meets regularly with governments on the many issues facing the outdoors community.Regular BPSA club meetings are held on the last Thursday night of the month. The next session is on January 25th at 7:30 pm at the BPSA clubhouse on North Acres Road west of Wiarton. Join us if you are curious about our conservation group and our aim of preserving and enhancing fish and wildlife