The Thornbury Fishway, also known by visitors and locals as 'The Fish Ladder' is located in the heart of Thornbury and can be viewed from Highway 26 as you enter Thornbury from the East.
This passive fishway consists of an open channel with a relatively natural appearance that also allows for excellent fish viewing opportunities. Rainbow trout and chinook salmon are readily visible as they swim or jump over each of the steps and pass up through the pools of the main portion of the fishway. The new fishway retains the capability for fish capture, sampling as well as automatic counting to help monitor the health of the fish populations. While allowing better fish passage, the fishway has also been designed to exclude lamprey from entering the Beaver River watershed.
Fish passage to suitable spawning grounds is critical to the survival of rainbow trout and chinook salmon. The location of physical barriers, such as dams, may prevent the upstream movement of adult fish to spawning areas. With the installation of the passive fishway, migrating salmon and Rainbow trout have access to several kilometers of cold water streams in the Beaver River watershed. Upstream, the migrating trout and salmon also pass through three other fishways located at the Haines, Clendenan and Slabtown Dams. Easier access to the spawning areas results in greater numbers of rainbow trout and chinook salmon in southern Georgian Bay. This in turn allows increased opportunities for sports fishing and viewing.
The fishway is managed by the Ministry of Natural Resources. New this year, the Ministry has installed an underwater camera and sensor at the fishway to track the type and number of fishway, along with data on the peak times of fish passage through the fishway.
You can receive 'real time' and archived information about the number and type of fish travelling through the fishway by visiting the Biotactic website.
When to Visit the Fishway
The Fishway is active with fish migration in the Spring and the Fall.
From late August to late October, adult spawning Chinook Salmon begin showing up in the area rivers. They are aggressive jumpers and provide exciting viewing as they migrate up stream and make their way up the Fishway to find suitable areas in gravel river beds. The adult Chinook die after they have spawned. After the eggs hatch the young salmon return to the lake the following spring.
In the Spring, watch for Rainbow Trout making their way up the Fishway. Adults enter the streams in early spring to spawn in clean, rapid water. The exact time varies but it is usually during April.
For more information on the Fishway, please contact Zack Oâ€™Krafka at the Ministry of Natural Resources at Zachary.O'Krafka@ontario.ca.