Capital Facts: Dow’s Lake’s secrets

OTTAWA, ONTARIO: JULY 27, 2012 -- Hedrik Wachelka (seen here with a large mouth bass) is one of the world's greatest urban muskie hunters. For 50 years, he has pulled monsters from Dow's Lake, and urban stretches of the Rideau and Ottawa Rivers.
OTTAWA, ONTARIO: JULY 27, 2012 — Hedrik Wachelka (seen here with a large mouth bass) is one of the world’s greatest urban muskie hunters. For 50 years, he has pulled monsters from Dow’s Lake, and urban stretches of the Rideau and Ottawa Rivers. Wayne Cuddington / Ottawa Citizen
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In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, the Citizen is rolling out one fact each day for 150 days until July 1, highlighting the odd, the fascinating and the important bits of Ottawa history you might not know about.

Dow’s Lake holds some underwater secrets, including the remnants of an old causeway — and a miraculous urban fishery. The causeway once bisected the lake and linked the Arboretum to the lake’s east bank; it was torn down some time prior to 1929 (its stone remnants can be seen when the water is low). The weeds of Dow’s Lake also hide a resident population of muskellunge: an apex predator and one of North America’s most prized — and elusive — fish. Carleton University biologist Steven Cooke proved that the muskellunge live year round Dow’s Lake. He implanted ten muskie with radio transmitters in 2006 and tracked them for three years. He discovered the Dow’s Lake muskellunge are a self-sustaining population: most live in the canal year round and successfully feed and spawn within the confines of the city. In the late fall, the urban muskie migrate to Dow’s Lake and winter in its deepest section.

— Andrew Duffy

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