The Friends of Deer Lake are passionate about fishing. There are always stories to be shared, whether it’s talking about the Big Pike that got away or the Succulent Fish Fry that brought family and friends together. A common scene is sitting on the dock just before the sun sets and watching the silhouette of boats anchored at favourite fishing spots. Generations of families have enjoyed the abundant fish in Deer Lake, and to ensure that many generations to come will enjoy the great fishing we have, we must protect the delicate Ecosystem and fish Habitat of Deer Lake.
Fish require certain characteristics of their environment for their survival which include, a dependable food supply, a place to spawn (reproduce), adequate cover and reliable migration routes. Fish are key players in a complex environment that keeps our rivers and lakes healthy and our Ecosystems strong. It’s important to understand and protect fish Habitat in Deer Lake to ensure that all fish species survive and prosper. Homeowners, cottagers or developers modifying their shoreline may be harming delicate fish Habitat.
As well on dry land, our actions - spreading chemicals on fields and lawns, letting sewage
seep from faulty septic tanks or paving roads and walkways resulting in increased runoff -
have consequences to the environment in which fish live. Just a few months ago, harmful Algae Blooms have been found in the western part of Deer Lake. Wherever land meets
water, the physical changes we make can have a detrimental impact to the Ecosystem, and fish Habitat.
Deer Lake is dominated by cool water fish species which include Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, Walleye, White Sucker and Yellow Perch. A Preliminary Fish Habitat Assessment on the western shoreline at the mouth of Dur Bay was completed earlier this year. While the focus of the study was on the mouth of Dur Bay, many areas of Deer Lake have similar Habitats, which are classified as two types.
Type 1 Habitat is a sensitive Habitat that limits the overall productive capacity of the lake. If these areas are compromised, the productive capacity of the fish Habitat would be expected to diminish. These Habitats require a high level of protection when considering development. Typically, these locations are known spawning sites for species such as Northern Pike, Small and Large Mouth Bass that have stringent spawning requirements, essential nursery/rearing areas, or highly productive feeding areas.
Type 2 Habitat has a vast assemblage of floating and submergent vegetation that is ideal for adult fish cover and feeding, as well as providing unspecialized spawning fish Habitat. Such Habitat is important to fish populations, but not a limiting factor for the habitat productive capacity because of its abundance. When considering development, this Habitat requires moderate protection.
Gaining a better understanding of fish Habitat will help protect Deer Lake’s fish species and its delicate Ecosystem. According to the Fisheries Act, which protects fish and their Habitat, the onus is on landowners and developers to ensure shoreline or in-water work does not harmfully alter, disrupt, or destroy fish Habitat. For more information on what you can do to help protect fish Habitat on Deer Lake, refer to A Guide to Understanding Freshwater Fish Habitat in Ontario.
“Every time you stand by the shores of a lake or on the banks of a river or stream, think
of this: You are within the habitat of fish, an ecosystem so intricate that even the smallest
change to one part can have much larger and unpredictable impacts on another. In learning
how to tread more lightly at the edge of this ecosystem, we can all help to ensure our
waterways remain a healthy place for those who live in them - and by them.” Fisheries and Ocean Canada