Stream Tender Magazine

November 2012

The State Of The Fishery On The Bow River In Cochrane


Bow River trout, such as this on that was caught near the Town of Cochrane, may be small, but they tell us a  story about the state of the fishery. This small rainbow trout is a little over one year of age. It hatched from an egg during the previous years spawning on the Jumpingpound Creek!

    The Bow River upstream and downstream of the Town of Cochrane, is primarily a rainbow trout fishery. This population of rainbow trout is entirely dependant on only one spawning tributary for this species on this section of the Bow River, which is the Jumpingpound Creek.

    Many anglers are aware of this, and I am often asked about whether there has been a successful spawning season from year to year on the JP Creek. This is a good question that cannot be answered right away on most years.

    Having conducted spawning surveys in the past on the JP, to establish some baseline data, it was after those surveys that I could answer the question of how good a spawning run was, immediately after.

    However, nowadays, I employ a less labour intensive method of assessing the state of the fishery and the reproduction from previous spawning seasons. This method is called fishing!


   I simply just go down to the Bow River to try and catch a few small rainbow trout!

     So you may ask how this has anything to do with assessing the state of the fishery and rainbow trout reproduction. The answer is directly related to the size of rainbow trout that I catch each year.

    You see, if I catch a lot of small rainbow trout in the 5 to 7 inch size range, during the mid summer months, I know right away that there was a good spawn on the JP Creek, the year before.

    If there are also a lot of 10 to 12 inch rainbow trout to catch around the same time in the summer, I know automatically that there was also a good spawning run up the JP Creek, two years prior.

    It is a very simple and cost effective method of assessing the state of the fishery in the Bow River. It is not that complicated and anyone that has a knowledge of how fast these rainbow trout grow, can do the same!


“Studies Have Proven That The Jumpingpound Creek Is Vital To Sustainability Of The Bow River Rainbow Trout Population!”

    In 1993, the Jumpingpound Chapter of Trout Unlimited Canada set out to prove, once and for all, that the Jumpingpound Creek was crucial to the sustainability of the Bow River’s rainbow trout fishery. For many years, some of the local anglers in Cochrane knew very well that the rainbow trout moved up the JP in the spring of the year, to spawn.

    To document and verify this spawning migration, it was necessary for the group to conduct a trout trapping and processing study on the Jumpingpound Creek, in the spring, near the mouth of the Bow River. In April of 1993, a fence and entrance trap was constructed on the creek, approximately 1 kilometre upstream of the confluence with the Bow River.

    The fence and trap was completed on April 17th, and on the next morning, 6 mature rainbow trout were already captured in the trap and ready to be processed. The processing involved implanting a small visual numbered tag behind the trout’s eye, weighing and measuring the trout, and then releasing it back into the creek, upstream of the trap.

    After release, the trout could continue on up the stream to spawn. This process would allow the TU group to find out how many trout move up the system in the spring.

    By the time the study was completed, the JP Chapter of TU had processed a total of 1,137 rainbow trout and 9 cutthroat trout from the trapping program. This number of spawning rainbow trout was significant enough to determine that the Jumpingpound Creek was vitally important to the sustainability of rainbow trout in the Bow

 River, from the Ghost Dam downstream to the Bearspaw Dam.

    The results of the study had proven the importance of the JP Creek and measures could be put in place to protect the stream’s spawning run, into future years! This happened over a period of years, but it took a lot of pressure from  the JP membership!

This is a mature Jumpingpound Strain of rainbow trout, which annually moves up the JP Creek to spawn and generate new generations of trout for the Bow River, in future years

Above: Members of the JP Chapter of TU help construct the fish fence and trap.

Above:  This photo was taken from the top of the Jumpingpound Creek Valley, looking down over the fence and trout trap below. The angle of the fence helped to direct trout into the centre box trap, where there was a conical entrance opening that allow trout in, but confused their exit.