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Conservation  Conservation
New Zealand mudsnails in Spring Creek

Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 12/17/2013 (996 reads)
Pennsylvania has gotten hit with some bad news a few times this year about invasive species having a potential negative impaction on some waterways. Earlier in the year we heard about Didymo turning up in Pine Creek and more recently there was news about New Zealand mudsnails in Spring Creek. Fly fishing is a fun casual sport, but more often than not extra precautions will need to be follow with our gear.

Invasive species generally are plants or animals that are non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem and whose introduction causes harm to the native species. New Zealand mud snails have been detrimental in reducing some western streams productivity. Populations can reach 28,000 snails per square foot. This rapid and expansive growth can compete with native species.

New Zealand mudsnails“Based on studies conducted in western U.S. streams, if the population grows quickly, they could become the dominant organisms in the benthic – or bottom dwelling – community, upon which many others species depend for food,” said Bob Morgan, the PFBC’s ecologist who studies aquatic invasive species. “Because this is the first known occurrence of the New Zealand mudsnail on the Atlantic slope of the eastern U.S, the effects of the snail on higher organisms, such as fish, are not certain at this time.”

Fly fishing anglers will need to take extra precautions in cleaning their gear before leaving Spring Creek and entering another waterway. This is a serious issue without proper measures the situation could get worse in the region.

From the PFBC below and Clean Your Gear:
"New Zealand mudsnails require some specialized disinfection measures. Gear should be visually inspected and any clinging matter should be removed and disposed of in the trash. To kill mudsnails, three methods are effective. Gear can be frozen for a minimum of six hours, or it can be soaked in hot water - 120°F to 140°F - for five minutes. This last method is not recommended for Gortex.

Also, a 2005 study by the California Department of Fish and Game showed that mudsnails can be killed by soaking gear for five minutes in a one-to-one solution of Formula 409® Cleaner Degreaser Disinfectant and water. After soaking gear for five minutes, thoroughly rinse it with plain water. Simply spraying gear with the disinfectant or the mixture does not work. Also, general cleaners have not been shown to be effective against the mudsnail." [see note below]1

These steps in keeping your gear clean are not going to work very well if you are planning to go from Spring Creek and then say Penns Creek in the same day. It has been suggested in the forum that if you spend a lot of time in the Central Pennsylvania area fly fishing and jump from stream to stream frequently, an extra pair of old boots for just Spring Creek may be the way to go for now.

Whatever your plans may be to fish in the region, keep yourself education on these invasive species and take the necessary steps to protect the streams you and many others like to fly fish.

1 Side Note:
There seems to be some conflicting information about the success of using Formula 409® Cleaner Degreaser Disinfectant and water to kill New Zealand mudsnails. Here is the 2005 PDF study by the California Department of Fish and Game and the several sources are reporting that 409 doesn't work. So go figure there is conflict.

So to help I have found another site that offers a few more suggestions on how to deal with eliminating the snails on your gear here. Options look like freezing, completely drying, Copper Sulfate Pentahydrate (which has it's own debate) or my suggestion...buy a set of inexpensive extra gear for Spring Creek.

Sorry about what I thought was serious problem had a simple solution. Wrong again!










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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 10/23/2013 (1046 reads)
This is the second half of the Big Spring Update and PFBC Meeting - here is the beginning Part 1

Stream Improvements in Section 2

I was really taken back by how good the project looked on Section 2 a few weeks ago. Much of this got rolling in the fall of 2012 when the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) outlined the agency’s habitat management plan for Big Spring Creek with Section 2. The project was finished late summer of 2013 as planned and supported by funds from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

Big Spring Creek


The plan was to improve 2000 feet of habitat conditions in Big Spring Creek that would favor wild brook trout. To accomplish this the project focussed on narrowing the stream bed in addition to reducing: the rate at which the creek’s waters warm as they flow downstream, the amount of water surface area exposed to solar radiation and late-afternoon dissolved oxygen. Effort was taken to include specific gravel in the steam bed that would favor the wild brook trout during the spawn.

Upon visiting Section 2 of the creek it appeared much of the last of work had recently been completed in September. Clear evidence of the stream narrowing could be seen along the creek and the stream was noticeably deeper. Some areas it appeared as if over 20 feet of stream bed was reclaimed. Grass seed and tree saplings were planted along all the new habitat areas of the stream banks.

Big Spring Watershed Association


The efforts on the project looked great. It had only been a few weeks, but already the ground netting was keeping in the soil and grass was growing. This is the same effort put in to Section 1 back in 2010 with solid results along the stream.

While I was there I meet up with several members of the Big Spring Watershed Association (BSWA) who had come out to inspect the progress of the project as well. The members of the Big Spring Watershed Association are biologists, naturalist, local citizens and anglers who all are very anxious of the success of Big Spring Creek. The small group there were all in agreement with success of Section 2 up to that point.


Big Spring Creek Public Workgroup Meeting

The last PFBC Big Spring meeting must have been a real doozy because the PFBC was really prepared to deal with this meeting in a very civil and constructive manner. I give them a lot of credit for coming back out to take on the topic and have a good plan to keep the meeting well organized. Probably the only thing crazier than a public meeting on fly fishing is having a Internet forum on the topic. But, who would be stupid enough to do that?

Dave Miko


Dave Miko, Chief of Fisheries Management, lead the workshop for the PFBC. The front end of the workshop was an update by the PFBC that reviewed the progress of Section 1 and Section 2 of the projects.

Chief Miko did a nice job explaining the forum for the workshop, expectations and goals before the 40+ participants broke into four separate groups to battle it out discuss things. Attendance was a mix of anglers, citizens, members of TU and BSWA. Once into the groups, members from the PFBC led walked thru a series of questions about the progress to date, issues and future goals.

Big Spring Creek


A lot of solid information was shared and everyone had an equal opportunity to express their opinions, concerns and suggestions going forward. I noticed the one group was a little more well behaved with the armed WCO sitting nearby...kidding. Certainly a lot of strong and divergent opinions were shared on how the stream should be managed. Some people wanted to completely remove all the rainbow trout and others to just leave things as they are...some a little heated, but nothing that wasn't in line.

No real outcomes was finalized as the workshop was intended to gather feedback from the public and share it with the commissioners. With so many different views the public is going to all have to live with some compromises, which seems a little difficult for a lot of people everywhere lately.

Again, hats off to Dave Miko and team for coming up with a constructive format to handle the topic!






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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 10/07/2013 (962 reads)
Part 1

I met up with Dave Weaver last Monday to check on the progress of the PFBC Phase 2 stream enhancements for Big Spring Creek in Newville, PA and to attend the PFBC meeting that evening. It was a pleasant afternoon and I enjoyed a little stream time as well around the middle fly fishing section where the project was recently completed. These projects on Big Spring have been a significant effort for many for the last several years. A lot of progress has been made in stream enhancements for wild trout within this watershed, but not without some controversy along the way.

Background
Big Spring is a wonderful stretch of limestone fed water located in Cumberland County. There has always been a lot of attention given to the stream due to its productivity as a Class A brook trout stream, beautiful environment and rich history. The PFBC owns a good stretch on both sides of the stream, which gives them unique opportunity to manage Big Spring unlike other waters across the state.

Big Spring CreekThe stream is also tied up in a lot of controversy on how to manage the trout and waterway between anglers, landowners, scientists, guides, the Big Spring Watershed Association, Trout Unlimited, PFBC and others. Much of the issue stems from the fact that Big Spring is a highly productive limestone brook trout stream, something that there isn’t a lot of left in the state. The main bone of contention, currently, surrounds the population of non-native rainbow trout that are thriving in these waters and – in the view of some - threaten the success of the native brook trout fishery. Everyone wants brook trout to have the best opportunity to be successful in these waters. There are a lot of strong opinions on how to do this. Views range from doing nothing, to removing all the rainbow trout.

Since 2006 PFBC has worked with other organizations to take on the Big Spring Creek habitat enhancements with the goal of improving wild trout habitat, particularly for brook trout. In 2010, with funds from both the state and federal Government, Phase 1 was completed covering 2050 feet. Phase 2, which was funded with a grant from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, has now been completed, covering 2,000 feet of improvements. Part of these improvements include riparian plantings in the newly filled areas utilizing native plants. If you visit Big Spring, please watch your step as some of these plants are still small.

In large part, these efforts involve correcting some of the negative effects from the mills and dams that had a dominate role from the mid 1700's through the early 1900's on Big Spring. In both phases, construction work included narrowing the stream channel while slowing the water speed and increasing the depth and cover, through the use of log vane deflectors, enhanced riparian shelves, and improved wetlands.

Phase 2 Project and Meeting Part 2 here






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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 07/23/2013 (2332 reads)
Didymo (Didymosphenia geminata) or rock snot is a non-native invasive microscopic algae that blooms in freshwater rivers and streams, with consistently cold water temperatures. Didymo forms a think brown mat of algae that can take over significant sections of stream.

didymo Didymo can be brown, tan or whitish in color covering vast stretches with it's wet cotton or steel wool feeling algae. It is not green or slimy.

Rock snot can take it's toll when it begins it's heavy blooms and smothers the bottom stream bed. It can choke out much of the aquatic life and can greatly impact the food supplies for trout in the ecosystem.

All states in the region have been impacted by this invasion species on some of the better known waterways including the East and West branches of the Delaware River, the Batten Kill and recently Pine Creek in Pennsylvania. The Pine Creek waterway does not show signs of these blooms as of yet. In Maryland, biologists first confirmed didymo in Gunpowder Falls in Baltimore County in early 2008. In 2009, it turned up in the lower Savage River, Allegany County and in Big Hunting Creek in 2012.

Jason du Pont produced and excellent video Didymo: A Video Diary on the transformation of the Gunpowder once a didymo bloom begins and takes over a stream.

Didymo: A Video Diary from Jason du Pont on Vimeo.



The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commision offers these ideas to help control the spread of didymo:
"The PFBC recommends that anglers allow exposed equipment to completely dry before entering new waters. After equipment is dry to the touch, allow it to dry another 48 hours, the commission suggests. Thick and dense material, such as life jackets and felt-soled wading gear, will hold moisture longer, take longer to dry, and can be more difficult to clean.

Soaking equipment in hot water containing dishwashing detergent (two cups of detergent for every two and a half gallons of water) for 20 minutes or more also will kill didymo and some other aquatic invasive species.

Cleaning boats and equipment with hot water (maintained at 140 degrees Fahrenheit) by pressure washing or soaking is another effective method. If hot water is not available, a commercial hot water car wash also makes a good location to wash boats, motors and trailers. At the other end of the temperature range, freezing items solid for at least 24 hours is effective. If cleaning, drying or freezing is not practical, please restrict the equipment’s use to a single waterway."


For more details on how to stop the spread of didymo visit the PFBC page here.

While Didymosphenia geminata does not pose a health risks to humans, but it certainly causes significant issues for the aquatic life in our streams. Our attentiveness to this issue is the one way we can help stop the spread of this growing problem.

top photo - Tim Daley, PA DEP
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 03/06/2013 (1735 reads)
Paflyfish

Last week while fishing at Big Spring Creek, David Weaver pointed out a section of the stream that had some bank stabilization completed with logs supporting and narrowing the stream. He commented that the project was completed by the students participating in the Rivers Conservation and Fly Fishing Youth Camp several years ago. I was impressed to see what a good job had been done to help the stream out and it was in great condition after several years.

For those not familiar with Rivers Conservation and Fly Fishing Youth Camp it is a week long summer camp held every year in June for young men and women to become more educated on the importance of coldwater conservation.

A good portion of the time during camp students spend time in a classroom setting. Classes include studies of entomology, wetlands, ecology, hydrogeology, aquatic invertebrates, hydrology, watersheds, the biology of pollution, trout behavior and stream restoration. There are many sessions that take place on the stream or outside during the week.

Montana Angler Fly FishingThe instructors in the program often include leading experts including many from state agencies like the PFBC, DEP and DCNR. Also many expert volunteers from the fly fishing community help out during the week. The Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited sponsors the program with help from the local chapters.

Every morning and evening the participants are given the opportunity to fly fish the catch and release section of Yellow Breeches where they stay for the week. June on the Yellow Breeches is an excellent time to be fishing. Lessons in casting, knot tying, fly tying and more are also part of the curriculum.

The cost of the program for youths between the ages of 14-17 is $350. There are different ways that finanical support is provided and there are several openings still available. The deadline for the early acceptance period is March 31, 2013.

Truly an exciting opportunity to learn more about conservation and enjoy fly fishing as well. To find out more please go to the website here where they also provide applications.

The members of Paflyfish at last years May Jamboree collected money and made a donation in support of the students attending Rivers Conservation and Fly Fishing Youth Camp.
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Published by David Weaver [Fishidiot] on 10/25/2011 (6145 reads)
It is with great pride and pleasure that I have the privilege of announcing here on Paflyfish that Cumberland Valley Trout Unlimited is the 2011 recipient of the Gold Trout Award. The Gold Trout Award is a national recognition to only one of about 400 national TU chapters annually.

CVTU’s efforts across the Cumberland Valley are well known and include the Rivers Conservation and Youth Camp, restoration of Big Spring Creek, land preservation and sinkhole remediation along Letort, stream improvement work on The Run, removal of old dams on Yellow Breeches, and many more outstanding endeavors many of which you’ve probably heard about.

If you’re a member of CVTU (or any TU chapter) – kudos to you for fighting the good fight. If you’re not a member, your local chapter could use your help. If you, like me, love the unique streams of the Cumberland Valley, please consider joining or supporting CVTU. We have many hands-on work projects every year and conduct a first rate fundraising banquet and appreciate donations.

I’m also proud to announce that my friend and fellow forum member Justin Pittman (JPittman) is the new President of CVTU. We’ll be in good hands.

Further down, please take a look at the press release provided courtesy of CVTU Vice President John Leonard for more information. By all means, visit the chapter website for additional information. If you have questions, you’re also welcome to PM me as well.

Detailed information and photos of the Chapter’s activities leading to the Gold Trout Award can be found on our web site - http://cvtu.homestead.com

Dave Weaver (“Fishidiot”)







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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 09/13/2011 (3600 reads)
This past weeks flooding from Tropical Storm Lee left much of region devastated. The rains produced floods that rivaled the 1972 storm of storms Hurricane Agnes. Sadly, there are countless tales of significant property loss as result of flooded waterways from the Susquehanna in the Wyoming Valley to the Swatara in Lancaster County. Hoping everyone has a speedy recovery.

Clarks Creek FloodA lot of questions have been asked on the site as too what happens to the trout under such conditions?

The short answer is it depends, but for the most part fish and the aquatic life recovery reasonably well in these situations. That is not to say there won't be some short term issues. Trout and other fish instinctually know how to respond to these types of floods.

During high water fish will get into the safest flow of a a stream or river, which would typically be at the very bottom of a stream. This is where the velocity of the flow is the slowest. Rocks and other structure can provide some needed protection.

“The fish tend to hunker down,” said David Lemon, fisheries manager at the NY Department of Conservation’s Cortland office. “They get behind current breaks, in deep pools ... sit on the bottom.”

Certainly severe conditions can leave fish in some bad situations. Floods can deliver pollution and heavily silted water that can cause additional challenges. More problematic for trout is they can find themselves outside the banks of streams when the water retreats.

"Generally speaking the populations do quite well, bouncing back quickly, or never seeing a reduction. Occasionally seen, populations decline substantially and remain down for a number of years. This has usually been true only when the storm or flood has ravaged the habitat and for the long term left it much worse than before. In those cases, primarily brook trout streams, many to most of the pools were lost. The populations in those cases found a new and lower equilibrium," shares Mike Kaufmann, Fisheries Manager with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

Probably the greatest threat to fish is the loss of habit during a significant flood event and not just for the fish, but the food chain as well.

While not as devastating in Pennsylvania, Hurricane Irene did pay a visit to New Jersey just before Tropical Storm Lee. Our friends over at TightLine Productions just produced a video showing how the fishing has bounced back after the hurricane and offering some hope for all us at Paflyfish. Thanks!



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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 08/26/2011 (3064 reads)
Hurricane Irene


It has been a pretty crazy week already with a once in a century 5.9 magnitude earthquake jolting the east coast on Tuesday. Our new threat is with Hurricane Irene which is bearing down on us and expected to strike North Carolina within hours. Already a Cat 3, Irene is forecasted to grind away at the coastlines from North Carolina to Maine. Unfortunately, many of the most Eastern streams in the Northeastern states are already above average for this time of year. More rain and strong winds will make for some pretty challenging conditions over the weekend.

I hope everyone takes appropriate precautions and prepares for what will be a wet and windy weekend for many. Maybe this storm will take out the swarm of locusts stink bugs that is due to onset us next week.

Have a good weekend. I am off to get some gas for my generator!
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Published by David Weaver [Fishidiot] on 08/22/2011 (2851 reads)
Resized Image

There is a common view among old Letort regulars that the stream is considerably more thick with weeds than in the past. In recent years, it's not uncommon to see the entire stream channel choked to within a few inches of the surface with elodea and chara. With weeds this thick, holding habitat for trout is diminished and some folks feel that it's negatively impacting mayfly populations. Worse still, these heavy weed sections are displacing the water flow up out of the creek's banks and into nearby meadows. With a chronic sinkhole problem in the upper Letort, water pushing up into the meadows is worsening the situation. Obviously, weeds in a spring creek are a natural characteristic and beneficial. Too much of a good thing becomes problematic.

This week, CVTU members went to work on a continuing process of cutting back some of these weeds. Using a cutter called a "weedrazor," channels were cut into the weeds and the cuttings were pulled out with rakes. An 80 yard section of the middle heritage section now has a much better channel. Since this process started, water levels appear to have dropped as much as a few inches. This meadow is still weedy (as it should be) but much improved. Just upstream of where we were working, an 18" wild brown could be seen in a clear section between weedbeds.

If you're interested in supporting, joining, or learning more about Cumberland Valley TU, please visit: http://cvtu.homestead.com/

Thanks,
Dave W

Photos courtesy G Giza
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 02/20/2011 (2985 reads)
It is hard to imagine that back in my early days of fly-fishing how easily I jumped into my truck armed with just a Delorme Atlas and didn't hesitate to run across the state to find some new untested waters. This was great fun to explore many parts of the state that I heard about and fortunately had plenty of time to make these treks. The good old days had a downside to taking off for a five hour drive on some Lewis and Clarke expedition into some uncharted lands for myself. I soon learned weather and water conditions in one area of the state can be drastically different 200 miles away.

In the early days of the Internet, one of the early website sites I found incredibly useful was the USGS implementation of the Real-time Water Data and Streamflow Conditions. This website provides detailed reporting of the most recent and historical water levels for hundreds of streams and rivers across the country.

USGS StreamgageIn 1888 the US Geological Survey started the first of National Streamgaging Program with a gage on the Rio Grande River in New Mexico and have been rolling them out across the country to the delight of all those that enjoy those waterways and streams.

I utilize the USGS site time and time again before heading out on my excursions now. I have cancelled or changed my plans on many a trip due to the timely data found from these gaging stations. I huge time saver in at least knowing there is some decent waters levels to my soon be fantastic fishing trip.

With recent funding reductions many of the real-time streamgages in New York and Pennsylvania may be discontinued. In total for both states it seems there may be about 70 sreamgages effected. Gages at streams like Spring Creek, Pine Creek, the Little Juniata River in Pennsylvania and the Salmon River, the Ausable River in New York.

It appears that there are no changes are planned for New Jersey, Ohio and West Virginia. Maryland has only one stream being effected by these funding issues.

Currently both the New York and Pennsylvania USGS Real-Time Water Data sites are requesting users who are willing to help with funding to potentially keep these gages up and running. At the time of this post I had contacted and USGS for more details and had no response.

So my suggestion is for the USGS is let us anglers, boaters and conservationists, "Adopt a Streamgage". Let us know what it would take for us to put our name in support of our favorite threaten metal shed next to the stream. If we can support some asphalt, why not a section of pristine fly fishing waters?

Reach out to your local USGS contact ask how you can "Adopt a Streamgage."

New York - 27 Streamsgages listed
Contact Rob Breault or Ward Freeman of the USGS New York Water Science Center at 518-285-5658 or dc_ny@usgs.gov

Pennsylvania - 44 streams listed
Contact Bob Hainly, Assistant Director of the USGS Pennsylvania Water Science Center, at 717-730-6971 or rahainly@usgs.gov

Maryland - One stream
Contact Jon Dillow of the USGS Maryland, Delaware, DC Water Science Center at 443-498-5524 or jjdillow@usgs.gov
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