Posts Tagged ‘Trout’

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Adirondack Brook Trout

After a long, cold, snowy winter, it is time to search out the majestic Adirondack Brook Trout. Many of the best trout fishing and viewing locations are still experiencing high flow conditions, making accessing them difficult. Due to these conditions, stocking of bodies of water within the Adirondacks will not take place until later in the month. It is anticipated that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will stock 147,000 Brook Trout into Adirondack waters.

Brook Trout, Salvelinus fontinalis, our state fish, is one of the easiest species to recognize. The white leading edges on the fins, wormlike vermiculation and the red spots on their sides haloed with blue, make this fish unique. The Brook Trout, like the Lake Trout is actually a char. They can serve as an indicator of the health of an aquatic ecosystem.

Brook Trout live in lakes and streams throughout the Adirondacks. Being a cold-water species, they prefer, small streams with cool temperatures, as well as lakes and ponds that are cold and well oxygenated. During the fall, Brook Trout will migrate to the spawning redds, generally in streams or in the shallow bays within lakes on gravel beds. The majority of spawning takes place midday. During courtship both sexes defend the spawning redd by chasing away intruders. Females will lay between 40 to 79 eggs per pit. The female will spend up to 2 days digging the pit. While she is digging the male will approach her, touching her sides. When the female is ready, she will move into the center of the pit, the male will curl himself around her to hold her in position. The pair will then vibrate together, releasing eggs and milt. Both sexes will spawn multiple times.

Brook Trout are voracious eaters and will feed on aquatic insects, invertebrates, salamanders, tadpoles, small mammals and other fish. Within the Adirondacks, there are native strains of Brook Trout that are unique to the body of water in which they are found. These strains are termed Heritage strain Brook Trout. The most commonly known are the Horn Lake, Little Tupper Lake and the Windfall Pond strain. The average size of a Heritage Brook Trout is 9 to 16 inches. They reach maturity between 2 to 3 years of age and can live for up to an average of 6 years.

The New York statewide fishing regulations for Brook Trout are: Open season starts April 1 and runs till October 15; however their may be regulations for specific bodies of water. The minimum length that may be kept is, any, with a daily limit of 5. The state record Brook Trout is a 5 pound 4.5 ounce fish caught in Raquette Lake in 2009.

Brook Trout populations within the Adirondacks have declined from historical numbers; this is due in part to non-native fish species, degradation of water quality and acid deposition.

Photos: Brook Trout, Courtesy Blueline Photography, Jeremy Parnapy.

Corrina Parnapy is a Lake George native and a naturalist who writes regularly about the environment and Adirondack natural history for the Adirondack Almanack.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Trout and Salmon Fishing Opens April 1st

Trout, lake trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon seasons all begin on April 1st, but unlike last year when opening day trout anglers were greeted with relatively tranquil conditions, this winter’s heavy snows and resultant high, cold stream conditions will not be friendly to early season trout anglers. Early season anglers should use caution, as ice melt can create swift flow in high waters, unstable ice layers and unstable hiking terrain – particularly in higher elevations where winter snow is returning Friday.

“After a long, cold and snowy winter, we know that anglers are anxious to hit the water,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. “Unfortunately, a good portion of the state remains covered with snow, which may restrict access to streams and cause very high stream flows making early season angling difficult.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Taking Stock of Adirondack Trout

As the snow melts and the ice recedes from local water bodies around the Adirondacks, the thoughts of some turn to trout. There are a variety of trout species found in the Adirondacks: Rainbow, Brown, and Lake Trout and the king of all fish – in my eyes at least – the Brook Trout. While April 1st marks the opening day of trout season across New York State, many bodies of water in the Adirondacks are open to trout fishing all year long. For specific fishing regulations, check out the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website.

Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis, is actually a char and our state fish. They are easy to identify, having wormlike markings or vermiculation on their backs and brilliant red spots on their sides that are surrounded by blue halos. The most distinguishing feature is the brilliant white edges on their pectoral, pelvic and anal fins. Brook Trout live in lakes and streams in cold well-oxygenated waters and spawn in the fall. The state record for Brook Trout is 5 pounds 4.5 ounces.

Rainbow Trout Salmo gairdneri, are an introduced species originally coming from the Western side of the continent. They are dark olive, almost blue green in color above, lighter on their sides, with a pale yellow to white belly. Adults will have a pink or red band along their sides. Rainbow Trout occur in large streams and lakes where they have been stocked, and spawn in the spring. The state record for Rainbow Trout is 31 pounds 3 ounces.

Brown Trout Salmo trutta, are an introduced species originally from Europe. They are olive green, shading to tan or white on the belly. They have small irregular spots, which are surrounded by pale halos. Brown Trout are primarily a stream fish but can live in lakes. They tolerate higher water temeratures than Brook Trout and spawn in the fall. The state record for Brown Trout is 33 pounds 2 ounces.

Lake Trout Salvelinus namaycush, are a native species of trout. They are silvery gray on their sides and have white on their bellies. Their backs have darker areas with white to creamy spots and vermiculation. Sometimes their fins will have an orange cast to them. Lake Trout are found in deep, cold, well-oxygenated lakes and spawn in the fall. The state record for Lake Trout is 41 pounds 8 ounces.

All species of trout feed on smaller fish species and insects, which is why it is important to conduct a bottom up management approach for fisheries management. Trout are very sensitive to changes in their environment, to maintain a healthy, viable trout population, which is why shoreline and streamside riparian buffers are important.

Photo: Above, Adirondack fisherman shows off a string of trout; Below, Brook Trout courtesy Wikipidia.

Corrina Parnapy is a Lake George native and a naturalist who writes regularly about the environment and Adirondack natural history for the Adirondack Almanack.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Changes Planned for Baitfish Transport Regulations

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will propose revisions to the current rule restricting overland transport of uncertified baitfish. DEC is currently developing a proposed revision to the regulations that would allow baitfish to be transported overland within defined “transportation corridors” for use within the same waterbody from which they are collected. DEC anticipates issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in March to be followed by a 45-day public comment period. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fish Habitat Projects Slated for Ausable River

The Ausable River Association (AsRA) has received two awards that will fund trout and salmon habitat improvement projects. The project will identify and replace structures that act as barriers to the passage of fish and other aquatic organisms. AsRA will receive $46,910 from the Lake Champlain Basin Program and will work with The Adirondack Nature Conservancy and SUNY-Plattsburgh to complete a fish passage study. AsRA will also receive $52,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to replace culverts and deconstruct dams that act as barriers to fish migration.

The project will use field assessments and GIS mapping tools to identify and rank barriers to aquatic organisms, assess the overall connectivity of stream habitat in the Ausable Watershed, and prioritize structures for replacement. The collaborating groups will conduct a training workshop to present the results to Town and County
highway superintendents, and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

Maintaining connections between rivers and small tributaries is important for protecting trout, salmon, and other aquatic organisms. Trout rely upon small upland tributaries for spawning and refuge from warm summer temperatures. Dams, culverts, and bridges can altered flow and block upstream movement to important refuge streams.
Connectivity to upland tributaries is becoming even more critical as temperatures in valley bottom streams rise due to climate warming.

The Ausable and River Association is a nonprofit watershed group that works cooperatively with landowners, municipalities, and government agencies to preserve the natural, scenic, and recreation resources of the Ausable Watershed. For more information call 873-3752 or write info@ausableriver.org.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Adirondack Fish: Rainbow Smelt

The first reported introduction of Rainbow Smelt (Osmerus mordax) to Lake George was in 1918. Approximately 2.5 million smelt were released to enhance the lake trout fishery. Five Million more smelt were released in 1921. Smelt have historically been stocked into bodies of water throughout the Adirondacks as prey for larger game species such as lake trout and land locked salmon. Within Lake George, smelt are replacing ciscoe as the primary prey species. Many organizations around the lake have taken an interest in the smelt population.

In 1988 The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation banned the collection or possession of smelt within the Lake George Watershed, in response to concern over the stability of the population. This ban remains in effect today. In 2002 the Lake George Fishing Alliance collected 1 Million eggs from Indian Lake and stocked them into Smith Brook and Jenkins Brook on Lake George. In 2009 the Lake George Waterkeeper, in cooperation with the Lake George Fishing Alliance and the direction of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, initiated a scientific survey of the smelt population and factors that may be inhibiting the spawning migration. This study was continued in 2010 and will be conducted again this spring.

Rainbow smelt are a small, dark torpedo shaped fish, that have fang-like teeth and have an adipose fin. Smelt reach sexual maturity between 2 and 3 years of age. They can live up to 9 years and can grow as long as 9 inches.

Smelt will begin their annual spawning migration within the next 4 to 6 weeks. Hundreds to Thousands of fish will be seen swimming within streams tributary to Lake George and other bodies of water within the Adirondacks, once the water temperature reaches 42 degrees. The spawning migration will generally last two weeks depending on the weather. During this time, smelt will return to their birth streams to spawn. Spawning takes place at night, however fish can still be seen within the streams during the day. The eggs will hatch in early to mid May depending on the water temperature. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae smelt will drift out to the lake.

Many factors could be affecting the annual spawning migration of the smelt, these include; structural impedance, siltation, foraging pressure, habitat alteration, lack of riparian cover, and excessive nutrients.

For more information on the Rainbow Smelt, visit:
http://fundforlakegeorge.org/assets/pdf_files/Fact%20Sheet%206%20Smelt.pdf

For more information on the status of the Rainbow Smelt in Lake George, visit:
http://fundforlakegeorge.org/assets/pdf_files/2010%20Smelt%20Report%20small%20file.pdf

To watch an interesting video from the 2010 smelt survey, visit:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vanMjnXcqqA

This year the Lake George Waterkeeper and the Lake George Fishing Alliance are asking for volunteers to help monitor the annual spawning migration of the Rainbow Smelt in Lake George streams. If you are interested in assisting, please contact Corrina at: ofearthspirit@yahoo.com or Chris Navitsky at: cnavitsky@lakegeorgewaterkeeper.org

Photo’s: Smelt within streams tributary to Lake George, NY. Courtesy: Blueline Photography, Jeremy Parnapy.

Corrina Parnapy is a Lake George native and a naturalist who writes regularly about the environment and Adirondack natural history for the Adirondack Almanack.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Corrina Parnapy: The Importance of Snow

During this winter, it seems to have been snowing almost every week. Snow is piling up making driving hard and causing roofs to collapse. While the snow may be causing problems for people, it is just what the environment needs. Winters with thick snow packs mean a productive, drought free summer.

Snow falls to the ground, insulating the soil and roots of plants. When the snow melts it sinks into the ground between cracks and crevices of the bedrock replenishing the groundwater supply. The snow-melt will seep into the pore spaces between the soil particles or flow over the ground, filtering out into the streams, springs and lakes, thereby recharging the surface water. Snow is the major form of precipitation in the Adirondacks. Mild winters threaten soil productivity, plant growth and freshwater resources. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Adirondack Whitefish

Hidden in a very limited number of Adirondack lakes is a jewel of a fish, the Frost Fish. The Frost Fish or Round Whitefish is an endangered species that is only known to exist naturally in approximately seven lakes within the Blue Line. This indicator of clean water is actually a relative of salmon, trout and char. Being of the family Salmonidae, they live in cold, deep lakes with adequate dissolved oxygen.

What makes the Round Whitefish so unique, is that they will spawn in late November, early December over gravel. They have even been known to spawn under the ice. The eggs will drift down into the cracks between the rocks to wait for the warmth of spring to hatch. Unfortunately it seems, that the deck is stacked against this important forage species. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Officials: Sea Lamprey Control Seeing Success

The Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative is reporting unprecedented success resulting from the on-going sea lamprey control program. The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working together to improve and manage the fisheries of Lake Champlain. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

DEC Names New Wildlife Biology, Fisheries Chiefs

It’s been a good year for DEC wildlife biologist Gordon Batcheller. In October, weeks after he received a top honor from the National Trappers Association, Batcheller was appointed DEC’s chief wildlife biologist. Batcheller succeeds John Major, who retired earlier this year. Batcheller had been serving as acting wildlife chief since Major’s departure.

Batcheller, an avid deer and turkey hunter, said one of his priorities will be getting more people, particularly young people, outdoors hunting, trapping and bird-watching. “We want to eliminate barriers, and that could be complicated by regulations or an inability to find places to go hunting or (finding) parking areas,” Batcheller said. “We need to try to work to unify our stakeholders so that we’re all pulling together for the same purpose.”

He said he would like to see the age for big-game and small-game hunting lowered to 12. He said he also wants to take advantage of the “citizen scientists” who are outdoors and can help the DEC in this time of limited resources, getting them working together for common goals.

Batcheller has been with the DEC since 1981, starting as a wildlife biologist in Region 9 and working his way up the ladder. He’s led a number of major studies in recent years and been an active participant on several DEC teams responsible for managing furbearers, big game, and game birds.

DEC spokeswoman Maureen Wren said Batcheller has helped develop policies to reform DEC’s response to nuisance wildlife problems, including coyote, deer and bear conflicts. And as a regional biologist, he led a study to assess the status and management needs of threatened common terns; monitored contaminants in waterfowl and mink; and mapped and regulated freshwater wetlands, she said.

DEC has also announced the appointment of a new Bureau Chief of Fisheries, Phil Hulbert. Hulbert received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Maine at Orono in 1971 and 1973, respectively. His initial professional employment was as a Research Associate with the Migratory Fish Research Institute in the Maine Cooperative Fisheries Research Unit.

Hulbert started with DEC in 1977, working with the Coldwater Special Studies Unit in the Stamford sub-office. In 1986, he was appointed Coldwater Fisheries Unit Leader at DEC’s Central Office. Since 1996, he has served as Superintendent of Fish Culture, overseeing DEC’s 12 fish hatcheries and the Rome Fish Disease Control Unit (Rome Lab). He has worked on projects including evaluations of stream improvement structures, statewide creel and minimum length limits in trout streams, sea lamprey control, the statewide trout stream stocking system and manual, and the development and use of ultra-low phosphorus fish feed in DEC’s fish hatchery system.

A white paper Hulbert prepared on hatchery infrastructure needs in 2003 was instrumental in efforts to obtain Capital Budget appropriations for projects such as the reconstruction of broodstock ponds at Rome Lab and the construction of a new office/early rearing/visitor center building at Rome Hatchery.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Let’s Eat: Advice on Eating in Camp

Enjoying a meal around a campfire is an important part of an outdoor experience. Many a camper insists that food just tastes better when eaten outside.

An anonymous sportsman wrote about his trip to the Adirondacks in 1867, with particular mention of meals: “Trout ‘Flapjacks’ & corn cakes were soon cooked…and then we hurried into the Tent to eat, for the Mosquitos were very troublesome out side, & threatened to devour us, waving [sic] all objections as regarded our not being Cooked. Next morning we were up early & had such a Breakfast. Venison nicely cooked in a variety of ways great blooming Potatoes, splendid Pan cakes with maple sugar syrup, Eggs, & actual cream to drink…We could scarcely leave the Table…” » Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Local Rivers: Pesticide Will Kill Lamprey Larvae

The Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative (Cooperative) will be applying lampricide to portions of five tributaries to Lake Champlain during the month of September. Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be treating the Salmon River, Little Ausable River, Ausable River, and Putnam Creek in New York, and Lewis Creek in Vermont.

Treatments are scheduled to begin in New York on September 14th and finish in Vermont by the end of the month. These treatments are part of the Cooperative’s long-term sea lamprey control program for Lake Champlain. The trout and salmon populations of the lake are the primary beneficiaries of these efforts, yet lake sturgeon, walleye, and many other species are affected too. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 31, 2010

Celebrating the Life of Clarence Petty

On Sunday morning, the Wild Center hosted a memorial celebration of the life of Clarence Petty, the ardent conservationist who died last fall at 104.

The Wild Center showed two films about Clarence. After a brunch, several longtime friends and colleagues spoke about Clarence’s passion for protecting Adirondack wilderness.

As serious as Clarence was about preservation, anyone who met him was struck by his sense of humor and friendly manner.

Clarence had lots of stories from his long, rich life. He spent the first years of his life in a squatter’s cabin on the Forest Preserve. He grew up in the tiny hamlet of Coreys on the edge of the woods, a virtual frontier in those days, and went on to become a manager in the Civilian Conservation Corps, a forest ranger, a state pilot, and an indefatigable defender of the Adirondacks.

Most of the speakers at the memorial celebration, such as Michael Carr, Barbara Glaser, David Gibson, and Peter O’Shea, had known Clarence for decades and regaled the audience with one humorous anecdote after another. I particularly enjoyed Carr’s story about the time Clarence mistakenly air-dropped a load of trout over a fisherman. Thinking he may have killed or injured the fellow, Clarence flew back over the pond and saw him raising his hands in thanks.

I didn’t know Clarence as well as those folks, but as the editor of the Adirondack Explorer, I had the chance to speak with him many times in the last decade of his life. Every two months, I interviewed him for a feature called “Questions for Clarence,” which the Explorer published from 2004 until Clarence’s death.

The questions covered just about every topic under the sun, but often I would try to get Clarence to reveal what bit wisdom he would like to pass on to posterity. He kept on returning to his faith in democracy. He believed that if the people were allowed to vote on the important issues facing the Adirondack Park, they would opt to protect it.

By “the people,” he meant the people of the whole state, since the Forest Preserve is owned by all of them. The difficulty is that many of the Park’s residents don’t like outsiders making decisions that affect their lives. Hence, the continuing animosity toward the Adirondack Park Agency.

To this, Clarence had an answer. He described the Park’s wild lands, especially the Forest Preserve, as “the magnet” that draws tourists to the Adirondacks. The more wildness that is preserved, the greater the appeal to tourists. And tourists are money.

In short, protecting the Park is good for the economy–and hence good for the people who live here.

Despite his best efforts, Clarence failed to convince everyone of that point of view. But the argument will be carried forth by those he did reach.

You can find out more about Clarence Petty’s life in this remembrance by Dick Beamish, the founder of the Adirondack Explorer.

Photo by Phil Brown: Clarence Petty memorabilia at the Wild Center.

 


Monday, February 22, 2010

Adirondack Brook Trout: Our Vanishing Heritage

Nobody knows how many varieties of brook trout once lived in the Adirondacks. Probably dozens. Trout colonized the Adirondacks after the last ice age, when melting glaciers created watery pathways into the highlands. After water levels receded, trout populations were isolated from each other, and so they evolved separately, developing slightly different traits.

Sadly, only seven strains of heritage trout remain in the Adirondacks. The rest were done in by habitat destruction (often from logging), overfishing, acid rain, and/or shortsighted stocking policies.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is taking steps to protect only three of the seven heritage strains—by breeding and releasing fingerlings. The other four populations are so small that the department won’t risk removing fish from the wild for breeding. One DEC scientist says three of these populations are on the verge of extinction.

Think of it: a trout that has been around these parts for thousands of years—and is found nowhere else in the world—may soon be gone forever.

Perhaps you’re betting this won’t happen in your lifetime. Wrong. It already has. The Stink Lake strain in the West Canada Lake Wilderness apparently vanished just a few years ago, thanks to acid rain. And the Tamarack Pond strain in the Five Ponds Wilderness was lost in the 1990s. That pond became so acidified the trout couldn’t spawn. Because of the lack of competition, however, the adult trout grew fat. After word got out about the big brookies, anglers fished out the pond before DEC could act.

And then there’s the yahoo who released bass into Little Tupper Lake after the state bought it in 1998, thereby jeopardizing the heritage trout it had harbored for centuries. Fortunately, Little Tupper trout breed elsewhere, and so the population is not at risk, at least not now.

All of the above comes from an article by George Earl in the latest issue of the Adirondack Explorer, titled “Tragedy of the Trout.” Click here to read the full story.

Photo by George Earl: Angler with a Little Tupper trout.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Museum Seeks to Acquire Boreal Paintings

A series of paintings of Adirondack animals and trees affected by airborne pollutants may find a home at the Adirondack Museum, in Blue Mountain Lake.

The collection, entitled “Boreal Relationships,” comprises seven watercolors by Rebecca Richman. Richman made the paintings between 2003 and 2006, and wrote narratives on how acid rain and mercury deposition affect each subject: brook trout, red-backed salamander, red spruce, Bicknell’s thrush, common loon, sugar maple and mayfly.

The artist says she hopes the paintings will encourage people to think about connections between places and species—and lead to action to stop Midwestern pollutants from destroying habitats downwind in the Northeast. She has always hoped the originals could  “remain together as an educational force, helping to abate the threat of acid rain to the Adirondacks, a land I truly love.” Richman lived in the Adirondacks from 2000 to 2006, much of that time working for the Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter. She now lives in Colorado, where she works as a seasonal park ranger and continues to paint. » Continue Reading.



Wait! Before you go:

Catch up on all your Adirondack
news, delivered weekly to your inbox