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Fingerlings at home in McDougall Pond

By June 7, 2024No Comments
E.S. Laird Middle School student Sawyer Oliver dumped a bucket of trout minnows into McDougall Pond during a school outing last Thursday. Classes raise trout from eggs each year to learn about their life cycle and conservation. Geoff Lee Meridian Source

 

Another annual release of baby trout into McDougall Pond is in the books.

About 40 students from E.S. Laird Middle School watched the release of about 70 fingerlings into the pond last Thursday, then they cast fishing lines into the water hoping to hook a trophy trout from previous releases.

The fun learning activity is the culmination of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation’s (SWF) Fish In Schools (FINS) program taught at E.S. Laird and Bishop Lloyd Middle School.

It’s sponsored by the Lloydminster Fish and Game Association as a teaching tool about the lifecycle of fish and conservation.

The schools get trout eggs from SWF, hatch them, feed the fingerlings and release them into the pond.

“We’ve been running this program for nine years at E.S. Laird,” said teacher Shaun Donald on what was an exploration day for the entire school.

The release of fish was one of the day’s activities.

“It allows students to watch something grow and take care of because students have to feed the fish, and change the water and look after them,” explained Donald.

He says it also gives them some experience with the environment to release them in the wild and have some fun trying to catch some bigger fish they released in past years.

Grade 8 student Sawyer Oliver got to dump the bucket of fingerlings and explained her role in the class project.

“I mostly helped out with feeding them and making sure they were healthy,” she said. 

Grade 9 student, Thomas Swanson took a moment from fishing in the pond to talk about what he gleaned from the FINS program.

“In our class, we like to take care of the trout; we raise them every single year. I learned how they hatch from eggs into fingerlings and it’s a really interesting process,” said the teen.

Other than that, he added, “I’m just out here having a good time fishing with my class. I fish with my friend Landis. We do a lot of jack fishing.”

The class of youth also learned from conservation officers (CO) on hand, that the province actually releases trout to provide opportunities for recreational anglers.

“We want people to catch and keep trout and learn to eat trout,” CO Jordan Piecowye from North Battleford told the gathering.

“Trout are raised unable to reproduce so they don’t get into other lakes and rivers. They’re bred sterile. We do want them to be harvested and used by recreational users.”

Piecowye also tagged up with COs Corey Stratulat from Lloydminster and Robbie Gaetz from North Battleford, to tell students a bit about the work they do to protect the environment for future generations.

“The biggest thing we do is education, enforcement and assisting with biology work, doing habitat surveys, wildlife surveys and help release fish like we’re going today,” said Piecowye.

Retired teacher and volunteer Bill Armstrong, who drove the school bus to the pond was in his element getting kids excited about all things wildlife.

“Anything of this nature I am very interested in,” said Armstrong.

He’s chair of the Youth Outdoor Activity Program at Lloydminster Fish and Game Youth Centre and is hoping to attract about 50 boys and girls to a fun camp there June 22-23.

“We have wilderness camping, archery; we have an indoor shooting range where they learn safe handling of firearms,” said Armstrong. 

“They use pellet guns for target shooting and orienteering which is using compasses to find their way around wilderness trails.”

He says there will also be a barbecue lunch.

“It’s a great activity for kids, that’s why I’m involved,” said Armstrong, who was helping a kid with this fishing rod as he spoke.

 “A young fellow, he’s never fished before and he’s having a hard time getting things hooked up, so I’m getting him started,” he explained.