The health of the Grand River system is reflected in the health and diversity of its fish and their habitats.
Different species of fish live in different conditions. Some need cool, clear water. Others can survive in cloudy, warm water.
Water quality, in turn, reflects what is happening on the land.
During the 1800s and early 1900s, when farms, cities and towns filled the watershed the changes hurt the fishery. Some fish, such as sturgeon, disappeared. Others, such as brook trout, saw their habitat shrink.
However, many improvements in the past 50 years have resulted in the rebirth of the Grand River fishery.
Tree cover has grown to 20 per cent of the land from a low of five per cent. Better farming methods and improvements to wastewater treatment plants have made the water cleaner.
As water quality has improved, so has the health of the fishery. Now, parts of Grand River system have a reputation as some of the best fishing locations in Canada. Go the Fishing pages of our website for more information on angling in the Grand River watershed.
Today, the Grand River system is home to more than 90 species of fish, about half of all of the species in Canada.
The Grand River Fisheries Management Plan was developed in the mid-1990s by the GRCA, the Ministry of Natural Resources and a team of volunteers. The plan has a list of 42 "best bets" - projects with the greatest change of improving the fishery and the overall health of rivers and streams.
The "tailwaters" are the section of the Grand River downstream of Shand Dam (Belwood Lake) and the Conestogo River, downstream of the Conestogo Dam.
Cool water released from the bottom of the reservoir makes the river a better habitat for brown trout and other fish. These two tailwaters have become excellent areas for angling.
For more information go to our Tailwater Fisheries page.
The stretch of the Grand River from Paris to Brantford has been recognized as an Exceptional Waters reach under a provincial government program because of its special natural and human characteristics.
The Exceptional Waters Resource Management Plan describes its characteristics and the best ways to protect and improve it.