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> > Piscicides for Reclaiming Trout Habitat, Page 3

Jmd123September 6th, 2009, 5:34 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2545
Hmmm, I actually don't remember labeling Trtklr as anything in particular either. I do remember labeling Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh as uninformed fearmongers, and the GOP under the Bush administration as being quite incompetent and more than willing to, as I said, "enthusiastically destroying the natural world for their own short-term profits," which I still haven't heard refuted by ANYONE. Trtklr describes himself as concerned for the environment and apparently agreeing with environmental legislation, even though he strongly disagrees with other legislation (which may or may not have been well-written or thought out). So, the way I see it, Trtklr is NOT part of the GOP drive to do what I have described above and seems to seek out knowledge when he needs to understand a given situation, which absolutely takes him out the the Rush Limbaugh/Glenn Beck group. So, why does he accuse me of labeling him, then, when he seems to be quite different from the people that I have described?

I myself remember him labeling me directly as a "brainy elitist" living in a "Utopian cuccoon", and that "common sense" is something that I seem to lack because I have spent so much time educating myself about the world through books, post-graduate studies, interstate and international travel, and work experience in field biology. Hmmm, there's something there that I really don't get, since he also seems to suggest that if I had instead majored in history or economics, or even just took a few classes in each subject, I would have seen the light and not become such an "elitist". So, science is what makes people "elitists"? Fine, I'll see your label and raise you one: the modern Republican party has become staunchly ANTI-SCIENCE. When Bush said, "The jury is still out on evolution", just what the hell am I SUPPOSED to think??? Or when so many former scientific employees of that administration came out and complained about scientific results being outright suppressed because it didn't fit their political goals? If Bush was so bad that even a substantial number of his own party memebers began to disavow him in the waning years of his presidency, why did they blindly follow him for so long???

When someone tries to tell me that their "common sense" trumps my education and real-world, hands-on experiences, I really have to wonder if they have any "common sense" at all. In Louis's case, he seems eager to back up his assertions with articles containing pertinent information - kind of like one of us scientific "elitists" even though he is not in the sciences. I bet you can figure out which approach I favor...

You know, this whole latest part of the discussion on this thread started because I objected to someone calling me a "professional fear monger" because I am environmentalist. Well, did ANYONE bother to read the whole big chunk I wrote in the same posting about the response of benthic macroinvertebrate communities to a massive dam failure/silt spill on the fabled Pigeon River in northern lower Michigan? What, was it just too much "brainy elitism" for you labelers to understand? You ought to make the effort to try, as it has important ramifications for our favorite shared pasttime.

Do I drive a car? How the hell do you think I do my fieldwork? Public transportation won't drop me off in the middle of a swamp. It is an SUV or pickup truck? HELL NO!!! I try to minimize the $$$ that I involuntarily send to Middle Eastern regimes run by complete wack-jobs who we consider our "allies". If I did drive a large vehicle, it would be out of necessity to haul large pieces or amounts of equipment (like a friends of mine who are plumbers and professional surveyors). And you can bet it would be beaten all to hell, not sitting around all pretty and shiny in some urban or suburban parking lot because the owner is afraid to take it out and get it "scratched" (which is how the vast majority of those vehicles live out their lives).

Do I use plastics? WHO THE HELL DOESN'T?!?! Do I have a choice when every stupid thing I need to buy and use is made out of them??? And for the record, I am a compulsive recycler (especially plastics) and my diet is about 90% vegetarian (yep, I am truly a communist now - just to save you labelers the effort here). I practice catch-and reliease almost exclusively (like 99.9% of the time). So gosh, I guess I'm just the biggest hypocrite in the world.

I welcome any and all well-thought-out and reasoned responses from anyone on this site. If you wish to call me "insane", "a brainy elitist", or sheltered in a "Utopian cuccoon" (and you live in same yourself), well, that just shows me your intelligence level and just how much "common sense" you really have.

NERD: what a dumb kid calls a smart kid.

Jonathon

P.S. Just what "regulations" in this country, "other than environmental regulations", supposedly drove all of those companies overseas to China? Were they, perhaps, regulations to protect workers on the job from being injured, poisoned, or fired because of their gender, age, the color of their skin, or their religious beliefs? Or to protect consumers from shoddy workmanship and poor quality control that might cause injury, poisoning, or just palin unneccessary expense in repair or replacement? Hmmm, I sure seem to remember hearing about lead paint on toys and melamine in pet foods coming out of CHINA and being willingly imported to the country by US CORPORATIONS with NO quality control on THIS end, either. Geez, what an EVIL government we have! I sure trust those big corporations a hell of a lot more.
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Jmd123September 6th, 2009, 6:57 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2545
"this conversation isn't about ddt or piscicides, its about irrational behavior and personal attacks. its about people going absolutely rabid about a differing view."

Actually, I thought this conversation WAS about piscicides! Then someone, not me, injected their own political viewpoint into it by calling environmentalists "professional fear mongers". Then use of DDT WAS brought into the conversation, and when I attempted to show that I had some pertinent knowledge I was labeled a - you guessed it - "brainy elitist". Then when I tried to continue the discussion on DDT, a rather similar discussion to the one we WERE having originally on piscicides, in a well thought out and scientific matter, I am told that I am discussing the wrong topic and that I'm SUPPOSED to be talking about political attacks on opposing viewpoints. So far as I can tell, nobody cares whatsoever about my discussion of the Pigeon River. So just who hijacked this conversation?

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
TroutnutSeptember 7th, 2009, 9:40 am
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2727
Woah, I don't have time to read through all this, but my general impression is that the conflict should be toned down a few notches, and the discussion should get back on-topic.

The piscicides are probably a bad idea in streams in all but the most extreme or specialized circumstances, and certainly aren't a catch-all solution for restoring native fish strains. (Lakes are a different story.)

Several reasons:


  • They'll affect many invertebrates.
  • They'll kill sculpins, minnows, and other prey fish that are important food for large trout.
  • Rotenone may break down after a few days, but in a stream it may travel 50-100 miles in that time, depending on the gradient. We rarely want to wipe out that much river.
  • Streams are connected to each other, and trout sometimes move long distances within a system, including movement through warm-water streams during the cool months of the year. The unwanted strains could probably re-colonize from another nearby system and make the whole effort a waste of time.
  • You can't just dump in a piscicide upstream and expect to kill all the trout downstream, because some fish are moving in and out of tributaries frequently. Those fish will be safe, unless you dump rotenone in at the upper boundary of fish presence in every finger of the drainage.
  • The "native" strains of trout in many systems probably haven't even been preserved in a pure form, and even if they had been, they might not be the best-adapted fish to that system anymore. Human development has changed the temperature, substrate, gradient, productivity, and/or depth of many streams, and the fish in a stream right now may well be better adapted to it than whatever was there 500 years ago.
  • If a stream is still well-suited to its native fish, they stand a good chance of out-competing the introduced strains on their own, if they're a different species. If they're the same species, they'll probably interbreed, and the well-adapted genes that defined the native strain are likely to eventually take over.


Overall, nuking a stream with piscicides seems like an incredibly dangerous way to attempt, probably ineffectively, to accomplish something that may not even be for the best and that will probably happen on its own if it is.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
KonchuSeptember 7th, 2009, 10:03 am
Site Editor
Indiana

Posts: 503
There is a stream in the southern Appalachians where I have spent some time that I heard had been hit pretty hard with piscicides several years ago. I was really surprised, because this is one of the better streams now for overall diversity. It went against what I thought the effects of piscicides might be. I guess it could be an example of how some disturbance can be good for overall stream health. Of course, the surrounding streams are so healthy that it had plenty of places for the "replacement life" to come from. Of course, it is possible that I may have gotten bad information, too.
Jmd123September 7th, 2009, 10:53 am
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2545
Thank you, gentlemen, for getting us back to the science and the observations. I have a few more comments to make about rotenone and other piscicides.

I have heard that there is a sort of "detoxifier" for rotenone, in other words some chemical that deactivates it which, when used in conjunction with it, can confine the effects to a restricted segment of a given stream, keeping it from rolling down to beyond where the effects are desired. It is, by the way, also used to remove "roughfish" populations from designated trout streams here in MI that otherwise get taken over by creek chubs and white suckers (although these are not necessarily streams wherethere is a lot of natural trout reproduction, nevertheless some of the ARE). I would need to read more about rotenone use and detoxification to speak with any more knowledge on that aspect.

With regards to native trout outcompeting introduced trout, it ain't gonna happen when brook and brown trout are involved. Both species can coexist in the same stream without problems in some cases (e.g., the Maple River in northern lower MI), but in many other native brookie streams (e.g., the Appalachians) the browns will outcompete and just plain EAT the brookies out of existence. Browns are highly adaptable to many different stream conditions, from silty midwestern streams that are fairly warm (up to 70 F or more in the summer, so long as they can find colder groundwater influx) to ice-cold little spring-fed creeks that brookies just love (e.g., Carp Creek in northern lower MI). The brown trout genome is extremely variable - they range from the British Isles to Afghanistan! Not only that, check out James Prosec's Trout of the World and you will see with your own eyes how much variation there is contained within the species Salmo trutta. There is much less variation (and therefore, adaptability) within the species Salvelinus fontinalis...

Jason, I know you live in Alaska, and I don't know how much you fish the lower 48. Heck, given that you live in AK, I can't imagine that you feel any need to! In the western states, there are SO MANY individual strains and subspecies, all of which are valuable in their own right for preserving the genetic variantion of the species necessary for long-term survival. What if our climate undergoes the serious changes that are predicted, someone discovers that some tiny population of some cutthroat or rainbow is the most adaptable to the new conditions, then we find out that we have LOST THEM? We can't just keep them as living relics in some hatchery somewhere - what if they get a disease outbreak in the raceways, or by living a captive existence they lose their ability to survive on their own? We got lucky with the California condor - we may not be so lucky with the Alvord cutthroat trout. BTW, see Prosec's first book, Trout - A Natural History for a number of profiles and heartwarming stories about the rescue of some of these rare salmonids. Don't overlook the Sunapee and blueback trout in the eastern U.S., or the Aurora and coaster strains of the brook trout, either.

To be perfectly honest, my favorite species to catch is the lovely brookie. Sure, I have had one hell of a lot of fun with browns and rainbows, but there is something special about catching a brookie, because they are beautiful, require the utmost in water quality, and are NATIVE to northern lower MI and the U.P. I'm rather found of sea-run cutthroats as well, having caught them on the Oregon coast when I lived there many years ago.

Having said all of this, piscicides, like any toxic substance or any tool at all for that matter, are to be used cautiously and judiciously and then only as a last resort. Please see my comments on this, as well as my discussion of benthic macroinvertebrate population resiliency in the face of a massive silt spill, further up in this thread. It unfortunately got buried in the frenzy of political mudslinging, for which I certainly bear my own portion of repsponsbility.

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
TroutnutSeptember 7th, 2009, 3:34 pm
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2727
With regards to native trout outcompeting introduced trout, it ain't gonna happen when brook and brown trout are involved. Both species can coexist in the same stream without problems in some cases (e.g., the Maple River in northern lower MI), but in many other native brookie streams (e.g., the Appalachians) the browns will outcompete and just plain EAT the brookies out of existence.


Oh, it can happen... if the stream is still ideal for brook trout. I've watched a stream section I fish in northern Wisconsin shift from a near-even brown/brook mix to almost all brookies. What I think has happened with the general encroachment of browns into brookie territory is that the stream themselves have changed with the changing climate, land development, etc. Browns are more adaptable and are better suited to warmer, slightly degraded streams. Brookies seem to have the advantage in cooler water. Some aspects of their foraging behavior (and other things I haven't considered) contribute to the effect, too, but I think the general trend is of a continuously shifting balance of power between the species, ruled by climate and habitat.

Not only that, check out James Prosec's Trout of the World and you will see with your own eyes how much variation there is contained within the species Salmo trutta. There is much less variation (and therefore, adaptability) within the species Salvelinus fontinalis...


The adaptability of brown trout isn't really linked to their worldwide diversity. It's just that they've got a better thermal tolerance for many of our present-day rivers than brook trout do, and their foraging behavior is competitive in most situations.

Jason, I know you live in Alaska, and I don't know how much you fish the lower 48. Heck, given that you live in AK, I can't imagine that you feel any need to!


I'm in Alaska for graduate school, so I did almost all my trout fishing & the content of this website in the lower 48, though not out west.

In the western states, there are SO MANY individual strains and subspecies, all of which are valuable in their own right for preserving the genetic variantion of the species necessary for long-term survival.


I don't really think the variety of genetically distinct subspecies is critical to the survival of the species; however, I do think they're interesting and worth preserving in their own right, for aesthetic and scientific reasons. I just can't picture many scenarios in which a piscicide is the best way to go about it. There is no reset button that can send everything back to the way it used to be. Preservation and restoration of critical habitats, protection of dwindling strains from harvest, and hatchery boosting of diminished strains are all more likely solutions than wiping out all the fish and starting over.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Jmd123September 7th, 2009, 5:22 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2545
Jason, thanks for your reply. I had actually thought you were FROM AK, not just spending your education there. I'm pretty sure you are taking advantage of your location, however.

You may be right about changing stream dynamics influencing the population balance between brookies and brownies. I do know that the original fish in the Maple River, Emmet & Cheboygan Counties, MI, was the brook trout and may also have included the now extinct Michigan grayling. I don't necessarily blame the brownies for the demise of the grayling, they were already being hit by both heavy logging and heavy fishing (to feed the logging crews) and the brownies may have been put there as a replacement. But I do know that although they have not eliminated them, the brownies are most certainly the dominant fish in the stream as I probably have caught 20 browns for each brookie. Of course given the logging history of the area the stream conditions may well have changed - in fact, construction of a new road bridge many years ago with poorly designed drainage along the road in the vicinity (Maple River Road bridge) lead to complaints that the trophy browns that used to migrate up from Burt Lake can't get up the now silt-laden delta at the mouth. This lead to a multi-decade effort to create silt traps to alleviate this problem, but that's another story. Still, I can't help but wonder if I would be catching 12-15" brookies in there instead of browns - like I wonder if I would be catching much bigger smallmouth in the Huron River if it weren't for all those damned carp...

As I have clearly said, piscicides like rotenone are tools of last resort after all other methods have failed, and should only be used under certain circumstances. I am neither against the judicious use of chemicals, for example controlling foreign invasive strains of Phragmites that are taking over wetlands here in MI to the detriment of a rich and diverse native flora (and quite possibly eliminating fish spawning habitat). The simple fact is that, not all that long ago in our history, hatcheries around the country dumped a few of their favorite fish species, of only a few select strains, willy-nilly all over the place in any where they could survive. This includes some habitats that contained rare non-salmonids as well, some of which have paid the price for our carelessness.

The point I was trying to make about brown trout diversity and adaptability is that I have seen brownies dominate habitat that should be considerably more suitable to brookies, i.e. those tiny spring-fed creeks in northern lower MI. And I do believe, genetically speaking, that a wide original range for a species does indicate greater genetic, and therefore environmental, plasticity and adaptability. In other words, browns don't just dominate in streams that are warmer and siltier. Carp, after all, don't just occur in warm, silty, polluted waters where they seem to do just fine, but can be found in crystal-clear Ozark streams that also hold (introduced) trout, as well as prime smallmouth waters like the Huron. I STRONGLY suspect that native populations of redhorse suckers in the Huron have suffered from introduced carp, though I have no evidence to support this. But, as a biologist, I have heard way too many stories of introduced species crowding out and eliminating native ones. That doesn't necessarily mean it's time to use toxins for their control, but in some cases it is appropriate.

Before we both get blue in the face, Jason, I would like to know in what field you are getting your education. If it is fisheries or any related field of biology, please feel free to turn me on to any journal articles or other literature that backs up your assertions, and I will try to do the same.

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
TroutnutSeptember 8th, 2009, 6:59 pm
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2727
Before we both get blue in the face, Jason, I would like to know in what field you are getting your education. If it is fisheries or any related field of biology, please feel free to turn me on to any journal articles or other literature that backs up your assertions, and I will try to do the same.


I'm half-way into a Ph.D. in biology, modeling juvenile Chinook salmon foraging behavior, growth, and survival in one of our Alaskan rivers. It's basically a fisheries degree, but the biology label turned out to be more convenient for administrative reasons.

However, in this thread I'm just speculating for fun as an angler, not speaking professionally. None of us can really be expected to do an exhaustive lit search for each issue like this that comes up on the forum. I have a pretty good working knowledge of trout foraging behavior and bioenergetics, and that gives me some insight about inter-specific competition. I haven't followed any detailed empirical studies of inter-specific competition between brown trout and native species, though, because they're not central to my research. I can't look up any journal articles at the moment because my library privileges are suspended until I return some books. :-P

The point I was trying to make about brown trout diversity and adaptability is that I have seen brownies dominate habitat that should be considerably more suitable to brookies, i.e. those tiny spring-fed creeks in northern lower MI.


Not all tiny spring creeks are perfect for brookies. Plenty of variables could tip the balance toward browns. However, it's certainly possible that a stream could be ideal for brookies now and instead be full of browns, especially if brookies were nearly wiped out by something in the past and haven't been reintroduced since then, either by stocking or proximity to a strong brookie population.

I know that, in plenty of cases, invasive species have completely displaced native species without any real change to the habitat. However, I haven't really seen browns do that to brookies in habitats that could be considered pristine. I have seen browns move in and coexist with brookies in pristine streams (no doubt reducing brookie abundance somewhat, since the stream only supports so much biomass), and I know plenty of places with slightly degraded conditions where browns have taken over. This has given me the impression that habitat (including temperature, spawning habitat, juvenile habitat, etc) probably controls the long-term balance of power between species, at least without much human tinkering such as harvest and stocking.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Jmd123September 8th, 2009, 11:46 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2545
You bad boy! TURN IN THOSE LIBRARY BOOKS!!

I appreciate your comments, Jason. I have had my once and current boss tell me to tone it down scientifically on the job - as he has said, "We are doing science on the cheap here", with reference to consulting work versus hard-core research (though he has had me do some of that as well). Kudos to you for working on a PhD in fisheries. I nearly got a PhD in aquatic entomology from U of Missouri - Columbia in the late 90s, but I didn't finish it because I didn't want to spend the rest of my life hunched over a microscope picking bugs out of debris. So, please pardon me if I get overly scientifically demanding on such a public forum. It's just my training, and it gets set off by people who sound like they are just talking off the tops of their heads without knowing any background on a subject.

There is obviously a need for more research on the interactions between brookies and browns, and between introduced rainbows and isolated native cutthroat subspecies. If I felt like going back for a doctorate, that would be a perfect subject for a dissertation, but I really enjoy consulting too much (the variety of projects and locations is a great boredom killer, plus I do have broad interests in the biological sciences, including my first love in life, botany). Keep up the good work!

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
TroutnutSeptember 9th, 2009, 7:30 am
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2727
So, please pardon me if I get overly scientifically demanding on such a public forum. It's just my training, and it gets set off by people who sound like they are just talking off the tops of their heads without knowing any background on a subject.


It's a good thing to be demanding... we just don't have time in every conversation to meet the same standards we should apply to professional work. As long as we recognize that we're speculating based on background knowledge and not authoritative research, it's still useful to discuss these issues. I suspect that a lit search on this particular topic wouldn't lead to any more concrete conclusions than we've arrived at here, though... I don't think the work on the topic is that far along.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
GONZOSeptember 10th, 2009, 10:44 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
Jonathon and Jason,

I thought I'd try to add a little more speculation/observation to this brookie vs. brown commentary. I've had the opportunity to observe and get to know a great number of streams where wild browns and wild brookies cohabit to varying degrees. The general impression that one gets in much of the East is that browns tend to dominate in large portions of most trout streams that support wild populations, and much of that domination seems to be attributable to some degree of habitat change or degradation, especially thermal degradation. The brookies are often confined to smaller headwaters and tributaries, though they are sometimes squeezed into the smallest, uppermost portions of even these waters. But that is not the whole story, and I find the exceptions especially interesting and instructive.

Like Jonathon, I'm not sure that a stream necessarily has to suffer significant degradation in order for browns to establish a high degree of dominance, though examples of streams where such degradation doesn't exist are often unusual in more ways than one. Like Jason, however, I agree that some circumstances favor the dominance of brookies over browns. In my experience, several factors seem to allow brookies to maintain (or reestablish) dominance.

Brookies seem better able to utilize very small waters. This factor seems fairly obvious given the overall trend and is reflected in many populations that are able to hang on in the uppermost parts of a watershed despite the overwhelming dominance of browns in the rest of the water. Although this is a very limited dominance, the differences in production in such streams can be surprising.

For example, in one cold headwater stream (that does not seem to be significantly degraded), browns dominate brookies about 20:1. That is generally true until they are stopped by a natural barrier to upstream migration. Above that, only brookies are found. The most interesting aspect of this is that population estimates are about 87 lbs. per hectare in the brown-dominated stretch and 180 lbs. per hectare for the brookie population above the barrier.

Another factor seems to be the brookies' greater tolerance of acidity. This factor alone seems sufficient to severely limit the numbers of wild browns in some waters--even in some larger waters that have suffered some thermal degradation. Although this is not an unusual situation in many small acidic headwaters, the most intriguing and rewarding example of this that I knew was a section of a (not particularly cold) river that maintained a dominant population of large brookies despite the presence of a few browns and rainbows. (Notice that, sadly, I am using the past tense for that example, so don't bother to PM me about its location.)

However common this is among smaller waters in naturally acidic watersheds, it is also something of a dangerous balance. The window of tolerable acidity that can keep the browns at bay but still allows brookies to maintain strong populations is fairly narrow. It can easily be pushed beyond even the brookies tolerance by acid rain, acid snowmelt, or acid mine drainage. Ironically, in one such naturally acidic stream, the thing that allows some wild browns to establish themselves in the lowermost section seems to be the buffering provided by treated water from a sewage plant outfall.

The factor that I find most fascinating is the brookies' ability to utilize different spawning models. In addition to spawning in gravelly riffles like browns (stream model), brookies also utilize upwelling sandy springs (lake model). Lake model spawning can occur in streams as well as in lakes and probably is the predominant model in some streams that don't have much in the way of typical gravel spawning habitat.

All of these factors seem to be in play in some tiny headwaters, but the difference in the utilization of spawning habitat can produce interesting results in places where the dominance of brookies would otherwise seem counterintuitive--streams that are not especially acidic or tiny. Lake model spawning seems to be a factor in a favorite stream which maintains a healthy, but smaller population of browns along with a dominant population of brookies. Both species attain surprising sizes in this somewhat unusual stream section (larger, in both cases, than are typically found in the bigger waters below), and the brookies seem quite capable of maintaining their dominance.

At least one experienced biologist also feels that lake model spawning has played a significant role in the reestablishment of a dominant wild brookie population in the limestone spring waters of Big Spring above the Thompson Dam. Lesser numbers of wild rainbows are also doing fairly well there, but they only dominate closer to the Conodoquinet below the dam. Wild browns, on the other hand, have never seemed able to establish themselves to any significant degree. Monster browns have been taken from that stream in the past--including, of course, Don Martin's legendary 15 1/2 lb. behemoth--but as far as I know, most of them probably had hatchery origins.
KonchuSeptember 11th, 2009, 5:21 am
Site Editor
Indiana

Posts: 503
Do you think variation in stream levels (wet vs. dry years) plays much of a role?
GONZOSeptember 11th, 2009, 8:10 am
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
Hi Konchu,

Except for real extremes (catastrophic events like severe flooding), I haven't noticed wet vs. dry seasons affecting the populations or the "balance of power" between them very much. I would expect that the timing of low water levels could impact the ability of trout to move from one area of a stream to another for spawning, but aside from a few incidents of stalling the entry of lake populations into their spawning streams, I can't say much about that from direct observation. There is probably some effect, but other than influencing the fishability of the streams over the course of a season, it hasn't been obvious or pronounced.

Several years back, we had three straight years with incidents of fairly severe flooding. Many of the brown trout streams lost parts or all of two or three year classes. The populations were way down, but the average size within those populations was up significantly. Just in the past two seasons, overall numbers and size distribution seems to be returning to something more "normal." Brookie and brown populations in the uppermost headwaters seemed somewhat less affected by these floods, and the overall distribution of those species did not seem to change noticeably.

During one hot, dry summer, I was worried about the effect on one of the brook trout headwaters where browns are largely constrained by levels of acidity. The water levels were lower and the water temperatures were higher than I can ever remember. Under normal conditions, this stream suffers some thermal degradation due to two rather small impoundments, and I expected to see an effect on the brookie population the next season. I was a bit surprised to find that the population seemed relatively unchanged.
TroutHookerApril 10th, 2010, 2:41 am
Oregon

Posts: 3
WHY?


It is such a simple question, yet the most powerful and elegant question in our languages. Why? because it ASKS for answers. When someone says something foreign to your way of thinking, you have an incredible opportunity to learn and share, instead of defend / accuse.


When we hurry, we are forced to assume. When we have time, we ask and learn. Sometimes we are smart enough to return to our assumptions and ask why in order to progress intellectually and professionally. Through this discussion thread there seemed to be far more opinions stated than questions asked. I tend to think we learn more when we ask... why?

In my case I was fortunate to be the little brother while growing up. Why? Because I was given a golden opportunity to ask questions, to watch older siblings make mistakes and learn from their experience. Life is too short to learn from only our own mistakes. We learn so much more when we avail ourselves to the mistakes made all around us.

I was blessed with that attitude through my career. I simply substituted professors and older professionals in the place of older siblings. I also added old fishermen, loggers, farmers, gardeners, anyone who might lend a friendly story of experience, lots of experience.

Instead of bristling against someone who flags environmentalists as propagandists, it is much more profitable to ask the origins of that opinion or observation and learn from experience of others. This forum appears populated with people who think and crave to learn. Why should someone take a general statement and reveal a thin skin tendency by taking it personally? The answer to that likely has much more to do with the individual who takes offense to a generality.

if an inquisitive mind asked the origins of my statement, I would say it comes from years as an aquatic and watershed ecologist and the experience of seeing science bent to the whims of propagandists who sell fear as a product of their industry. I'd say it comes from the frustration of huge ecosystems suffering at the hands of propagandists who wrap themselves in the veil of environmentalism. I'd say it comes from a professional faith in the scientific process that is slayed at the alter of emotionalism and propaganda. Perhaps a more eloquent image is the pain one experiences when real science is ignored across millions of acres while the reapers of the weak minded damage the land all while professing to love it.

Perhaps a person has to walk in my shoes to understand my statements. I know there are thousands of other scientists who share many of my views and disdain for the raping of science in the name of politics, research budgets and yes environmentalism.

Is all environmentalism bad? Certainly not, but the good is shrinking orders of magnitude faster than your local glacier. If you haven't noticed the trend, then start reading and questioning. Better yet, gain front line experience and see how it goes when they want to love the earth to death.

Don't take my word for it. Go ask someone you trust who has been there in the thick of it. Maybe it is a western phenomenon, but I doubt it.

Maybe if you simply ask why, you may grow to understand. It has served me well.

**********************************

Carl, Jim, your lessons still ring true. Rest your souls while those you taught take your thoughts into tomorrow. Your minds are still touching the land through those you mentored ......


accepts beer for trout fishing tips
but not for trout habitat
Jmd123April 12th, 2010, 10:48 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2545
TroutHooker, I spent a year living in Coos Bay, OR, back in the early 90s. Let me tell you what I saw in your home state.

I saw rivers running the color of chocolate milk.

I saw mountainside after mountainside that looked like they had been shaved by a giant electric razor, even on slopes well exceeding 100%.

I fished what looked like beautiful trout streams and caught NOTHING - according to the locals, because they had not been "stocked yet". No natural reproduction???

I saw articles in the Portland Oregonian about farmers hiring bulldozers to make crude earthen dams on the Illinois River to divert water to their crops, whereupon the salmon and steelhead trying to ascend the river to spawn were KILLED.

I saw bumper stickers with spotted owls located in the crosshairs of rifle scopes.

I heard loggers demand that EVERY LAST PIECE of old growth forest be cut down and turned into monoculture clones of Douglas-fir.

I went to a statewide conference on how to save the DYING SALMON RUNS before the Federal Government declared the (nearly extinct) runs as endangered. Must not have worked - they have largely been listed by now...

I saw landslides all over the state from poor road construction, even while looking at amazing scenery in Oregon's wonderful State Parks. Great way to spoil a beautiful view...

I saw culverts that made migratory fish passage IMPOSSIBLE.

I saw a bumper sticker that said, "Help destroy America. Join an environmental group." Guess where I saw that? On the back of a LOGGING TRUCK. Go figure...

I read about massive algae blooms in the Rogue River, never been seen before.

I heard that starry flounder used to be common in Coos Bay, but that for some mysterious reason they had all disappeared.

I saw a massive, 298-foot tall Douglas-fir that had been preserved for all to see and marvel at. Commentary in the guest book at the site: "Good wood fiber. CUT IT."

I heard people declare that anyone who wanted to protect the environment was a "communist homosexual".

I heard people declare that, if a species was endangered, "Well, it must just not be a GOOD SPECIES." I guess that includes trout, salmon, and steelhead...Oh, I forgot, we can just STOCK them and it will be all right...

I heard about how a stream on the campus of Oregon State University regularly experienced depleted oxygen and major fish kills from cow manure.

You think people like me are "propagandists" and "alarmists"? Wonder why I have a "thin skin"?? Maybe it comesfrom all of the BLOWBACK I have recieved when I tell people that I am a professional scientist (I can send you credentials) who works to protect the environment (these days, in environmental consulting, since 1998).

Well, golly, if it weren't for "environmentalists" like me, folks like you, and everyone on this site, wouldn't HAVE any fishing opportunities, as all of our streams would be:

Polluted with cow manure or acid mine drainage;

Channelized as agriculural, county, or urban drains;

Dammed (damned?) so the water warms and fish migrations are blocked;

Filled with hatchery fish, a.k.a. "rubber trout", if not CARP (and no, I do NOT find them worthy quarry on a fly rod!);

Privately owned so only the RICH can have the priveledge of fishing them (ask folks in Montana about that one);

Denuded of bank vegetation from overgrazing so the water warms and fills with CHUBS;

Full of silt (and accompanying pollutants) from erosion and sedimentation...

Do I really need to go on here??

Yes, you see, I HAVE been in "the thick of it" when it comes to the environment, and will be for the rest of my professional life. And I really don't take kindly to being called an "alarmist", "extremist", "propagandist", etc. by folks who think that the natural environment is theirs to rape and use as their toilet. And as a scientist, I don't function in knee-jerk reactions, I consider myself a rather thoughtful person (I had BETTER be if I make my living in science!!) and I don't arrive upon my opinions without considerable experience and knowledge. And to be brtually honest, I see a LOT of anti-science bias in what I like to call the "anti-environmental movement" - yes, it does exist, I hear from these people every day.

"LOVING IT TO DEATH"????? How about EXPLOITING IT TO DEATH??? Having been on "the front lines" for almost two decades now, I have to tell you, I see WAY MORE of the latter than I do the former.

Yes, I am EXTREMELY PASSIONATE when it comes to defending the natural environment against the greed and stupidity of those who would ruin it for their own short-term gains. No, I do not ever pull my punches, in fact I will often get out my brass knuckles when it comes to defense of the world I love from the greedy bastards that I HATE. And I state all of the above without any hesitation or moral question, and will back it up with every once of strength and wisdom in my body, mind and soul.

MOST sincerely,

Jonathon M. DeNike (JMD), B.S., M.S.
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Jmd123April 12th, 2010, 11:51 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2545
P.S. For those of you who are wondering:

B.S. Botany - University of Michigan, 1986

M.S. Entomology - Michigan State University, 1991 - INCLUDING Aquatic Entomology with Rich Merritt (of: Merritt and Cummins, 1996, Aquatic Insects of North America, 3rd Ed.)

AND: enrolled for 1 1/2 years in a PhD program in Aquatic Entomology at the University of Missouri - Columbia - didn't finish because my "Major Advisor" was a "major A-HOLE" who blew off all of his professional responsibilities once he made tenure, including "advising" me and helping me to find funding for my research projects, on the benthic macroinvertebrate communities of spring-fed streams in the Springfield Plateau region of southwest Missouri and their relationships to water chemistry (cations, anions, and nutrients like N and P), in attempt to identify bioindicators of groundwater quality...Poster presentation at the Annual Meeting of the North American Benthological Society in San Marcos, TX, 1997, with special reference to my own formula, A+I/C (Amphipods + Isopods divided by Chironomids) which showed a STRONG correlation to nitrogen levels in the water issuing from freshwater springs... (BTW, I smashed over 700 Chironomid midge larvae heads during that research to identify enough of them to GENUS to come up with those findings...)

OK, anybody wanna question my scientific credentials?? Send me your email address and I will happily send you a resume detailing my 12 years of environmental consulting projects. Which, actually, might be a good idea as I have been out of work for a while - you know, when the economy goes to sh*t because of the unceasing greed on Wall Street, saving the environment ALWAYS gets the LAST priority when it comes to $$$...

Again, MOST sincerely,

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Jmd123April 13th, 2010, 12:23 am
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2545
P.S. For those of you who are wondering:

B.S. Botany - University of Michigan, 1986

M.S. Entomology - Michigan State University, 1991 - INCLUDING Aquatic Entomology with Rich Merritt (of: Merritt and Cummins, 1996, Aquatic Insects of North America, 3rd Ed.)

AND: enrolled for 1 1/2 years in a PhD program in Aquatic Entomology at the University of Missouri - Columbia - didn't finish because my "Major Advisor" was a "major A-HOLE" who blew off all of his professional responsibilities once he made tenure, including "advising" me and helping me to find funding for my research projects, on the benthic macroinvertebrate communities of spring-fed streams in the Springfield Plateau region of southwest Missouri and their relationships to water chemistry (cations, anions, and nutrients like N and P), in attempt to identify bioindicators of groundwater quality...Poster presentation at the Annual Meeting of the North American Benthological Society in San Marcos, TX, 1997, with special reference to my own formula, A+I/C (Amphipods + Isopods divided by Chironomids) which showed a STRONG correlation to nitrogen levels in the water issuing from freshwater springs... (BTW, I smashed over 700 Chironomid midge larvae heads during that research to identify enough of them to GENUS to come up with those findings...)

OK, anybody wanna question my scientific credentials?? Send me your email address and I will happily send you a resume detailing my 12 years of environmental consulting projects. Which, actually, might be a good idea as I have been out of work for a while - you know, when the economy goes to sh*t because of the unceasing greed on Wall Street, saving the environment ALWAYS gets the LAST priority when it comes to $$$...

Again, MOST sincerely,

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Jmd123April 13th, 2010, 12:47 am
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2545
P.P.S. Sorry about the accidental double posting...one rant is more than sufficient to the suffering readers of this site...
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Jmd123April 13th, 2010, 1:18 am
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2545
Gonzo, just re-read your posting, and must comment. Carp Creek (fortunately NOT named for the presence of any CARP) is a small stream feeding into the north shore of Burt Lake in northern lower Michigan. It is entirely spring-fed - the waters of Douglas Lake, to the north, seep down through sandy glacial sediments to emerge as hundreds of tiny springs in a canyon known as "The Gorge", which, being surrounded by relatively level sandy plains, is a dramatically steep drop a couple of hundred feet down to the valley floor. The springs emit groundwaters filtered by sand at a temperature of 10-11 degrees Celsius - we're talking ice-cold lower 50s F, gin-clear, pouring out of little moss-covered logs and hummocks. These many hundreds of springs eventually coalesce into a mind-blowingly beautiful little trout stream that flows through a genuine "cedar swamp" and keeps picking up tiny spring flows almost until it hits Burt Lake. As the size of the stream increases downstream, beavers move in and create amazing ponds and dams, architectural works of art that man can only be jealous of (especially as they do it all with their TEETH). Shaded, dark, cedar logs crossing the little creek, watercress, amphipods, etc.

Sounds like a perfect place for brookies, right??

WRONG!!!!!!!

This stream was TOTALLY dominated by brown trout in the late 80s and early 90s when I both electroshock sampled it and fished it on a very regular basis. There were 20-50 browns for every brookie, and some of the browns were BIG, as in 15-16"+ (came FACE TO FACE with them while wading and drifting leaf worms on an ultralight spinning rod, back in the days before my "fly fishing purism" set in...) I actually encountered a POD of trout, like over a hundred or so, found by my ex-wife who couldn't stop talking about it until I finally checked it out, and it was almost all BROWNS...

This stream has significant gravel in its headwaters, just below where the springs began, and the springs issued as I said from under small woody debris and hummocks covered in moss. Bottom was all sand downstream with course woody debris plus watercress patches, both of which were LOADED with amphipods. There were some other interesting insects in this stream, a few caddisflies and one particularly interesting predatory cranefly larva named Hexatoma. Trout were pretty much the ONLY fish found in this stream - NO minnows, darters, sculpins, etc.

Care to take a crack at this one? Especially to get back to a real scientific discussion instead of this idiotic political bullsh*t?????

JMD ;oD

P.S. pH was on the ACID side, like around 6 or so - all that coniferous plant input and all...

P.P.S. Brookies were the original natives to this stream - it is believed that, besides the Upper Penninsula, only the extreme northern tip of the Lower Penninsula of Michigan had native brook trout populations. Brownies arrived in the 1880s or shortly thereafter, probably arriving in Carp Creek via Burt Lake. Get out your Michigan map or go to Google Earth, Mapquest etc.
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
MotroutApril 13th, 2010, 2:53 pm
Posts: 319
I just got done reading the whole thread. It's really interesting stuff. I really enjoyed reading the scientific commentary on this, and I'll admit that I feel a little over my head on this one. But at the risk of sounding a bit ignorant compared to the more scientific minds on this forum, I guess I do see a few problems with rotenone use to manage fish populations. Not that I'm against it's use in all cases, just that I think a stream should be examined extremely carefully beforehand.

1. Wouldn't it be possible to inadvertantly kill off an endangered or threatened non-salmonid in the process? I have heard of cases, albeit far in the past, where this has occurred, specifically on Abrams Creek in North Carolina. An honest question-how carefully do biologists examine for endangered and or threatened species before they apply Rotenone or other poison to a stream?
2. Maybe I'm selfish in saying this, but I guess I don't really want all non-native trout gone. I live in Missouri, where ALL trout are non-native, and I enjoy fishing for them. I guess I would be a little upset if someone decided to poison my favorite little creek. Rotenone is one of those things that sounds great in theory-unless it is being applied to your home water.


I don't mean to offend anyone. I just think these are legitimate, if unscientific questions, that seem important to me, and possibly to others.
"I don't know what fly fishing teaches us, but I think it's something we need to know."-John Gierach
http://fishingintheozarks.blogspot.com/
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