Saskatchewan·Video

'Land of living water': Wadena-area farmer finds jackfish swimming in his pastureland

A Wadena-area farmer went out on Monday to check on his cattle, but instead found himself surrounded by a different species altogether. Lyndon Haskey said his pasture land was flooded with what he estimated was 15 to 20 centimetres of water, with fish flopping in front of him.

Lyndon Haskey said his pastures are flooded with water from Quill Lakes, with Northern pike swimming upstream

Watch as these jackfish swim through a Saskatchewan farmer's flooded pastureland

4 years ago
Duration 0:26
Flooded pastures with water from Quill Lakes contain Northern pike swimming upstream.

A Wadena-area farmer went out on Monday to check on his cattle, but instead found himself surrounded by a different species altogether.

Lyndon Haskey said his pasture land was flooded with what he estimated was 15 to 20 centimetres of water, with fish flopping in front of him.   

"These fish all started swimming everywhere. It kind of scared me off the start; then I realized it was these jackfish," he said. "It was quite the scene to see."

A couple of days before, his brother had seen a fish swimming in the ditch, working its way upstream to the Town of Wadena, he said. 

"They call it the land of living skies but it's the land of living water too," he said, adding alongside the jackfish—the common name for Northern pike—fresh-water shrimp and stickleback minnows were present in the water.

Lyndon Haskey started recording and taking pictures after finding a number of jackfish swimming in his pastures. (Lyndon Haskey/Submitted photo)

Quill Lakes flooding

Like other farmers in the Quill Lakes area, Haskey has seen flooding from water steadily eat at his land. Before flooding became a regular issue, he said his family ran about 100 cows over six quarters of pasture land, located about four kilometres away from the Quill Lakes shores.

Now, a couple of those quarters, and some grainland, have been lost to flooding, while heavy winds can see all six quarters engulfed in water at times, he said.

Haskey said he sold 30 cows this past season as a way to offset the pressure.

"We just don't have the land any more we used to, or the quality of land. It's not just the land that's covered in water but it's the land that's saturated, and 500 or 600 feet back from the water."

Haskey said he and his father, who is now 73, have seen record rains in nine straight years before last year, when drought-like conditions plagued southern Saskatchewan.

Wadena is approximately 200 kilometres east of Saskatoon. (CBC)

In spring 2016, water levels in the lake reached the highest since they started being recorded in 1885, according to the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency.

Above-normal precipitation stretching back to 2005 has exacerbated the flooding, according to the agency, which has been looking at several different ways to alleviate the problem.

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