Grand River & Carolinian Forest
There is a reason why Lake Erie is known as one of the Great Lakes. It is the fourth-largest lake of the five Great Lakes in North America, and the eleventh-largest globally. It is the southernmost, shallowest, and smallest by volume of the Great Lakes.
Not only is it huge – over 25,000 km², but it has ample trophy sized walleye, yellow perch, and small and largemouth bass. However, this doesn’t begin to capture how many species call Lake Erie home.
Lake Erie is one of the most exciting lakes for anglers. However, caution must be taken when boating, as the weather can change quickly.
The Grand River most definitely lives up to its name. Bordered by the area’s Carolinian forest it contains 80 different species of fish. In fact, over half of the fish species in Canada can be found in the Grand River watershed. The diversity in the structure of the river varies greatly from place to place.
The heritage river spans 280 km, providing many options for both novice and expert anglers. During times of regular flow, fly fishermen can wade clear across the river along the stretch from Caledonia to York. The river deepens and widens from Cayuga to the Dunnville dam and south of the Dunnville dam to Port Maitland making it more suitable for powerboats. When fishing the Grand River, one of the best parts is the fact that you’re never quite sure what species you’re going to get. While targeting channel catfish you may pull out a trophy walleye instead!
Haldimand County is located in the Carolinian Life Zone. In Canada this is found only in southern Ontario within a band of territory along the northern shore of Lake Erie. It contains many species and communities of plants and animals found nowhere else in Canada. Southern Ontario represents the northernmost edge of the Carolinian Life Zone and many of the species found within this zone in Canada are consequently at the extreme northern end of their range.
This extremity of range and the small size of the Carolinian Life Zone in Canada mean that many of the Carolinian species found in Canada are considered to be nationally uncommon or rare.
The Carolinian Forests consist of deciduous trees including broad-leaf species of such as oak, hickory, ash, chestnut, walnut, maple, sassafras, tulip and beech.
A slough is a wetland area associated with trees and stagnant or slow-flowing water. The hydrology and nutrient levels in these areas create unique associations of vegetation that include a diverse array of sedges, mosses, ferns, grasses, wildflowers and shrubs.
Some of these wetlands are ephemeral, meaning they are only full of water temporarily, usually drying up by the middle of the summer. The short-lived nature of these habitats inhibits the establishment of fish populations, creating an ideal environment for frogs, salamanders, and invertebrates to breed and lay their eggs without the threat of aquatic predators.
The distinctive calls of Spring Peepers, Wood Frogs, and Chorus Frogs are the most common sounds you will hear. A variety of other wildlife is also dependent on these unique wetlands for food and shelter including birds, reptiles, and mammals. Bursts of young amphibians and insects leaving the pools can attract hungry predators including raptors, wading birds, shrews, raccoons, snakes, and turtles.
Abundant vegetation, and easy access to a drink, also draws in herbivores. Along with many common species, these wetlands are also important for species at risk. Over sixty species of birds listed as special concern, threatened, or endangered in Northeastern North America are thought to be associated with vernal pools in some way. The Jefferson Salamander, listed as threatened provincially and nationally, is dependent on the existence of these habitats for reproduction.