South Nation Fish Camp return celebrated

Almost 100 youths baited a hook and learned about the environment in the local watershed at South Nation Conservation (SNC) Youth Fish Camps this summer.

After being on a hiatus last summer due to COVID-19, this year’s Fish Camp quickly sold out after making a return for its 12th season in 2021. The two-day camps ran for six weeks throughout the summer, three weeks in July, and three weeks in August for youth aged six to 12.

The young anglers at the camp reeled in some of the 72 fish species that live in the South Nation River waters. They cast a line at Cass Bridge Conservation Area in Winchester, Jessup’s Falls Conservation Area in Plantagenet, as well as reeling in some fish at High Falls Conservation Area in Casselman.

“These popular camps deliver an invaluable outdoor learning experience for youth and help familiarize young people with the natural environment through responsible and sustainable fishing,” said Kelsey Smith, SNC’s stewardship and outreach assistant.

The Fish Camp at SNC hosted special guests from the Water Rangers, who were on site to teach the youth about water quality through citizen science testing kits.

Members from the Ottawa Flyfishers Society provided the participants with the basics of fly fishing as well.

“There is a lot of value in these camps, like promoting eco-health,” said Smith.

The youth were offered the opportunity to learn how to fly fish, and were taught about conservation authorities, what they are and what they do. The Fish Camp also included various activities, such as teaching the children how to identify fish and turtles, as well as the importance of managing invasive species and how to identify them.

“Kids are given the chance to fish all day, make new friends and connect and learn about their local environment,” added Smith.

The South Nation River sustains a vigorous fishery, which is home to several warm-water pan fish; some of the species of fish the youth caught during the camp days included perch, rock bass, and shorthead redhorse.

Recreational fishing programs, like the Fish Camp, promote sustainable angling practices and encourage residents to explore fishing opportunities at Ontario conservation areas. SNC works in partnership with 16 member municipalities (including some in Leeds and Grenville) to share natural spaces and offer recreational opportunities on land and water.