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Headwaters

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2006/10/26 23:01
From Ohio
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Now that I've been at this a few years and have explored a fair number of streams, I notice a trend of finding the most productive streams being ones that have a lake or large pond (non-damned.....i'm not talking tailwaters) at or near their headwaters. These streams seem to be cooler and have better hatches.

Have other people had a simular experience? If so, why do you think it is? Are these "headwater lakes" spring fed to some degree or provide a more consitently cool outflow?

Or am I off my rocker and just haven't fished enough places?

Posted on: 2007/6/25 7:50


Re: Headwaters

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I've fished headwater streams a lot over the years and haven't noticed this pattern, but if you have any more details, I'd be interested to hear them.

Posted on: 2007/6/25 10:53


Re: Headwaters

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Quote:

OhioOutdoorsman wrote:
Now that I've been at this a few years and have explored a fair number of streams, I notice a trend of finding the most productive streams being ones that have a lake or large pond (non-damned.....i'm not talking tailwaters) at or near their headwaters. These streams seem to be cooler and have better hatches.

Have other people had a simular experience? If so, why do you think it is? Are these "headwater lakes" spring fed to some degree or provide a more consitently cool outflow?

Or am I off my rocker and just haven't fished enough places?


"Non-damned?" As apposed to "damned streams?" I guess I have refered to the poluted streams as being damned.

OK, I knew what you meant. I'd say you are still off your rocker. However, at least part of your observation may actually be true though (better hatches and more productive in some cases).

First things first. As far as temperature goes, ponds and small lakes only have a negative effect unless they are larger impoundments with bottom release.

On the other hand, if the thermal impact is minimal because of lots of springs also feeding the pond, and feeding the waters below the pond, lots of tree cover, or a few other reasons, then ponds can have a positive impact on a stream that would otherwise be fairly infertile. I'm assuming most of your ovservations were from Western PA streams, so this is probably the case. These streams are typically infertile and low PH (compared to other parts of the state). Ponds and small lakes do add fertility to the water. This is probably what you are seeing. They can also raise the PH. I'm sure chaz could explain this better, but it is true. the PH on ponds fluctuates quite a bit and raises during the daylight hours. I know of at least one spot where a man made wetland was created to treat an acid problem. Wetland plants filter out pollutants as well.

As a very general rule at this latitude, ponds and lakes feeding trout streams are bad for the trout, but there are most definitely exceptions.

Posted on: 2007/6/25 11:10
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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance." -Henry David Thoreau--


Re: Headwaters

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2006/9/13 10:18
From LV
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Ponds on trout streams can be devastating to the receiving stream. In order for a pond to have a cold release, it would have to be huge. Much larger then Lyman run Dam for instance. So it's nothing to do with cold water release. However, a certain amount of water escapes from the bottom into the aquifer and because the ground is cooler then the air cools the water down eventually.
The biggest impact of a pond or small impoundment on a headwaters stream may be chemistry and its effect on macroinvertabrates. Many studies have been done showing the impacts of ponds on trout streams, the jist is that a small headwater stream that is somewhat infertile may benefit from having a pond raise the PH of the stream. We checked this out when we were studying the effects of temperature on Perkiomen Creek, the stream above 1 of the ponds had a PH of 6.5 the outflow of the pond the PH was 8.2. One pond may be beneficial to a stream, but in most cases they negatively impact trout streams somethimes to the point of eliminating whole families of insects, and even trout from the water.

Posted on: 2007/6/25 15:27


Re: Headwaters

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2007/5/10 14:53
From Carlisle
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Yeah one stream that I though was a great stock stream with a great wild trout populations, just recently had the warmwater impoundment completely removed from the water and in the couple years it has been gone the streams wild brook trout population has just gotten so good its not even funny and now the trout are also spreading out real well. I think this stream if it were never stocked again in this section, WHICH WILL NEVER HAPPEN BECAUSE OF ITS LOCATION, could someday gain class A status. Warmwater impoundments almost always negatively impact a trout fishery.

Posted on: 2007/6/25 15:53


Re: Headwaters
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2006/9/13 12:42
From Altoona, PA
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What if the pond is a spring fed pond? Then the discharge might be colder than you think. I guess the way to know is to take some temperatures.

Posted on: 2007/6/25 16:50
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Re: Headwaters

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2006/10/26 23:01
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I'm talking about naturally occuring lakes/ponds.....a very large pool in the river. My sample size is probably too small. Makes no sense that basically a top releasing natural damn would be anything but harmful.

Posted on: 2007/6/25 17:46


Re: Headwaters

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2007/1/2 11:55
From Bozeman
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I'd assume a naturally occuring pond would signify a rapid release of spring water. A dammed pond, however would be a no go.

If you look at a good topo map, many small streams come from ponds like that.

Posted on: 2007/6/25 18:39


Re: Headwaters

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2006/9/21 0:02
From Pittsburgh
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I also agree with the majority here - more often than not, a pond is going to have a negative effect on the stream below for trout - it's just basically a heat trap. I've checked quite a few streams with ponds feeding them, and almost always found temps over 70 in summer.
In fact, I look for streams with no ponds or lakes above, when prospecting native streams.

Posted on: 2007/6/25 19:12


Re: Headwaters

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2006/12/13 9:28
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I'm being careful how I answer this because I don't want anyone to think I am saying that ponds on trout streams are good. However, I am not arguing with Ohio and telling him that his observations are false. I believe his observation is valid and explainable.

If one is only considering temperature, the temperature impact of a pond on a trout stream at this latitude is always negative. However, there is more to it than that, and everything is relative. The original question was about headwater streams. In many cases, headwater streams can handle a little increase in temperature. If it is in an area like NWPA, where the streams are almost always cold, but low PH and infertile, a pond absolutely can make a headwater stream more productive by raising the PH, and increasing the fertility. That is what I think you (Ohio) was seeing based on his description of said “ponds.” If a headwater streams can handle the temperature increase it can benefit from the higher PH and higher fertility. This view is based only on the impact to the headwater streams, and does not take into consideration any impact further downstream.

A lot of you guys fish mostly where PH isn't much of an issue (limestone country). In those cases, I absolutely would agree that ponds on trout streams are almost always bad.

Posted on: 2007/6/26 6:52
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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance." -Henry David Thoreau--


Re: Headwaters

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Give us some examples. With specific examples I think we could make some sense out of this.

Posted on: 2007/6/26 6:57


Re: Headwaters

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Troutbert, Chaz already gave you one stream by neme, and I gave you an entire region. Where do you do most of your fishing? What is the geology like?

Here is the deal. The geology in some areas of the state is not capable of buffering acid. That is a fact. The entire ANF is a near perfect example of such geology. And another fact is that rain is acidic, and so is snow runoff. So, if the geology cannot buffer this acid very well, you still will may have cold water, and some trout, but the streams will be acidic and relatively infertile. Darn near every stream in the ANF has trout in it. How many of those are class A? I think you can count them on one hand. Take Forest County for example. Forest county is loaded with trout streams, but Forest county has zero class A the last time i checked. For the most part, this has nothing to do with AMD. It's the geology. If you want an example of what Ohio was seeing, find a small headwaters stream in Forest county with a beaver dam on it and fish below it. It might not be as good as a central or easter PA Class A. but it will be productive. If the PH can be raised without increasing the temperature to levels higher than what trout can handle comfortably, then why wouldn't Ohio's observation be valid? The biomass is all about balance.

Posted on: 2007/6/26 7:40
_________________
There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance." -Henry David Thoreau--


Re: Headwaters

Joined:
2006/9/13 10:18
From LV
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To answer Padraic's question, it doesn't matter unless the spring is huge. Look at the Spring at Yellow Breeches at the lake. Check the outflow sometime. Trust me it will be warm on a summer day. It is 1 of the reason that the Breeches doesn't have a Class A Population below that point.
To answer OH's comment, size doesn't matter as much as temperature coming off the impoundment or natural lake. Still there are plenty of places in the Poconos that have warm headwaters and turn into trout streams downstream, it has more to do with geology then the size of the lake or pond. The wild card is, Is the water shaded? If it is it will often cool down.
A good rule of thumb is: if more than 10% of the stream water is warmed by the impoundment or lake then it will impact the stream adversely. There are very few examples of streams that aren't impacted negatively by lakes or ponds, natural or otherwise.

Posted on: 2007/6/26 11:35


Re: Headwaters

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2006/9/9 16:33
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Hey Chaz if you were a brookie what would you rather eat, a #18 mayfly nymph or a #4 dragon or damsel fly nymph?

Posted on: 2007/6/26 12:33


Re: Headwaters

Joined:
2006/9/18 8:28
From Attitudinally, one mile south of Lake LeBoeuf
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While I believe in general that the effect of upstream stillwaters, whether they be impoundments or naturally occuring is probably detrimental to cold water fisheries, it's all very subjective and situational to the point that even a mild generalization like I make above is tricky to make with much if any assurance.

I think Dave makes a good point when he discusses the increased fertility that a stillwater can produce in a first order stream in NWPA. But unless things have changed pretty drastically since I left, this infertility and low baseline Ph's he speaks of are more localized or spotty and not really ANF or region wide, at least to an extent that they would be anymore the dominant factor in fishery quality, say in the upper Tionesta drainage than they would in the upper Pine or Kettle watersheds. I always blamed the patchwork mineral/logging rights situation and the attendant disturbance from episodic drilling/logging activities as a more significant factor in the more geologically fertile watersheds of the general ANF region. And I think if you look at Commisssion stream surveys in these areas, you'll often see a boom/bust cycle in trout pops. that can be directly tied to these disturbances.
But certaqinly, what Dave says is very true in most of the lower Tionesta watershed and the majoirity of the Clarion basin. I remember Tim Palmer in his book, "Rivers of Pennsylvania" noting that quite a few undisturbed first order streams in the Clarion basin flow off the sandstone cap at a Ph of 5 or little more. That's pretty acidic.

I think Chaz' 10% marker is pretty good and he certainly knows a lot more about the Pocono watersheds, where so many of the streams begin life as stillwaters, than I ever will. Still though, it seems very sitational to me. The size of the stillwater, the source (surface water vs. deeper springs) of the balance of inputs to the flow and of course, their frequency, etc.

Many years ago, I used to pretty regularly fish a dinky creek in the Spring Creek watershed in western Warren County. It was born in a series of beaver dams which were pretty extensive. The dams themselves held bluegill and largemouth bass. The first couple hundred feet below the main dam breast was basivcaly fishless except for some minnows. Then, boom!, two major springs entered simultaneoulsy, one from each bank. And from this point down, the little creek popped with brook trout up to about 8".

Not really illustrative of anything I guess other than that every stream is different and you never know until you know...

Posted on: 2007/6/26 13:29



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