History of the Haliburton Highlands Outdoors Association
Founded in 1992, the Haliburton Highlands Outdoors Association (HHOA) is a dynamic association committed to the sustainable management of our natural resources. Our goals include: supporting the tourism and economic base in Haliburton County, promoting the outdoor sports of hunting and fishing; working towards improving wildlife and fish habitats; and educating members and the public on game and fish management.
Since 1998, the HHOA Hatchery has raised and stocked more than 625,000 fish in over 100 lakes across Haliburton County and surrounding areas. This significant contribution has been key to the rehabilitation of the Haliburton Gold and Kingscote strain of Lake Trout. Other projects have included: lake access clean up, shoal spawning and stream restoration, emergency deer feeding and a wildlife seeding program. In 2012, the HHOA Hatchery will celebrate reaching the half million mark for fish raised in our hatchery and released in Haliburton waters.
The HHOA is supported through our active membership and the hard work and dedication of our more than 50+ volunteers. Community partnerships are integral to our success and have included the Fish & Wildlife Council, local municipalities, Ministry of Natural Resources, County of Haliburton and the Stewardship Council. In 2005, the HHOA formed a partnership with Fleming College’s Centre for Alternative Wastewater Treatment to launch a constructed wetlands project. Each year, the hatchery provides connections for local high school and college students to enhance their skills through co-op, internships and volunteering.
A signature tourist destination, the hatchery is open year round for daily tours. By maintaining healthy fish populations and well stocked lakes, the HHOA supports a vibrant tourist industry in Haliburton County. The HHOA hosts several popular annual events including the Wild Game Dinner, Lake Trout Conservation Dinner, fishing derbies and the Fishstock Music Festival. The grounds surrounding the hatchery are used by local soccer groups and has an archery course for all ages and skills levels.
History of the Haliburton Lake Trout
Geologists tell us that 100,000 to 10,000 years ago most of Canada was covered by a vast sheet of ice some 2 – 4 km thick. Pre-glacial fish populations were either destroyed or pushed into ice-free areas called refuges located at the southern edges of the ice sheet. As the earth warmed and the glaciers retreated fresh water fish re-invaded the large, newly formed glacial lakes.
An exciting discovery has recently been made. A unique stain of lake trout distinct from other lake trout in Ontario and thought to be a glacial relict has been found in at least 4 lakes located in the Heart of the Haliburton Highlands.
This lake trout has been named the “Haliburton Lake Trout”.
Dr. John Casselman, a senior scientist with the MNR, has been studying the Haliburton strain of natural lake trout for many years, and has done much historical work on this glacial relict. Dr. Casselman’s findings have discovered that it appears to be one of the oldest and purest strains of lake trout in the world. Therefore, it is extremely important to protect its genetic integrity. The Haliburton strain of lake trout is well known for its torpedo shape, compact size, strong fighting ability and excellent taste. Other unique characteristics of this strain include rapid growth and early maturity. Some of these attributes allow them to withstand more fishing pressure and higher harvest levels than other strains of lake trout.
The MNR is very interested in the potential this strain may have for culture and stocking initiatives and will be tested as a product for supplemental rehabilitation and put, grow and take stocking in local lakes. The MNR has identified the Haliburton Lake Trout Project as a “Pilot Project” and is committed to a long-term partnership arrangement with the HHOA and OFAH. The HHOA has the primary role of culturing and developing the Haliburton lake trout at the Haliburton Fish Hatchery. In the fall of 1998 the HHOA and the MNR conducted the first wild egg collection from Halls Lake. Eggs are obtained from female lake trout, fertilized and transported to the Haliburton Fish Hatchery. The Haliburton lake trout will are raised at the hatchery for 18 months and stocked out in the spring. The stocking of this glacial relict is a significant achievement for the Haliburton Highlands Outdoors Association and for the community and partners that inspired the development and implementation of the Haliburton Lake Trout Project.