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Ontario students enjoying Elliott’s program

Ontario students can watch salmon eggs turn into fry in a classroom aquarium set up by Forest City Bassmasters club member Richard Elliott.

TEESWATER, Ontario, Canada — A salmon egg project Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation angler Richard Elliott started with one school has spawned into a popular program clamored by many schools in his province.

When the Lake Huron Fishing Club (LHFC), a conservation-based club of Ontario anglers, was looking for ways to get more youths and adults involved in the club, Elliott suggested an in-class program in which students could watch salmon eggs hatch into fry. So the Forest City Bassmasters club member started the program in 2010 with one local school and it has now spread into 37 schools in his area.

Elliott receives most of the salmon eggs from the LHFC Port Elgin Chinook Salmon Hatchery and some from hatcheries closer to schools where other clubs help raise Chinook salmon. “Salmon spawn in the fall so the eggs are delivered to the schools in November and are released in May,” Elliott said. “So we have the students’ interest for seven months or longer. If they’re not hooked by then to try fishing or get more involved then we’ll never get them involved in the fisheries or the club.”

Last year more than half of the classes involved with the program took a bus trip to release their salmon and have a tour of the LHFC rainbow trout/brown trout hatchery. Museum tours and a Port Elgin Salmon Hatchery tour were set up for the students releasing salmon at other locations.

The students at the various schools have enjoyed Elliott’s program throughout the years. “They love it,” Elliott said. “I’m the Salmon Guy or Fish Guy at most of my schools and they always have questions or stories they want to tell me when I arrive.”

Elliott said the Forest City Bassmasters have set up the program at a school in Komoka to help raise salmon and introduce the students to fishing. The club will be organizing the year-end salmon release and conducting future presentations in the classrooms and auditoriums to promote fishing and the Junior Bassmasters program.

The “Salmon Guy” hopes a new partnership between LHFC and Bruce Power, an Ontario power company, could lead to an expansion in his program within the next few years. “My goal was 100 schools with the help of more fishing clubs in Southwest Ontario,” Elliott said. He plans on spreading the word about his project by setting up a booth at the Bruce Power’s visitor center for the company’s March Break program.