Tuesday, August 17, 2010

About that other trout stream...

If you recall, last week I gave a little teaser about sampling a trout stream along the St. Croix. We made it there on Thursday, and it was NOTHING like that meadow-meandering stream I wrote about last week. This stream was nothing short of mystical.

If you're looking for it from the river, all I can tell you is good luck. We could hardly find the mouth; it was a narrow flowage barely visible in the grass. But once you get out of the river plain and start walking into the woods, this stream takes on a life of its own. It rushes over rocks and sand, twisting and turning through floodplain forest. As soon as we took the first turn into the woods, armed with backpack electrofisher, my coworker and I found our first brook trout.

A bit about electrofishing...it is the accepted way to sample small streams. The fish are stunned by an electrical current, but not enough to kill them. They are netted, usually put into a bucket, and when there are a good number of fish we stop sampling to measure them, take scale samples (to determine ages), and release them. Of course, it is more effective than rod and reel fishing, which is probably why I hardly fish any more. The action is just too slow. :)

Back to this small stream...as it wound its way up the St. Croix bluffs, we shocked up brook trout after brook trout, and hardly anything else. There were hardly any pools more than a foot deep, but still they were there in the cool spring water. Most of them were small, averaging about 4 inches, but we did get a couple 8 inchers. We ended up with over a hundred brook trout, from the mouth of the stream to where the water got too shallow to find any more.

Brook trout amaze me. They survive in the smallest of streams, as long as water temperatures are right. They are beautiful fish.


greg said...

I am thoroughly intrigued. It sounds like an amazing little stream. I'm with you about my amazement at brook trout. Wonderful fish. Is there any public access to this magical waterbody?

Floridacracker said...

The smallest stream can hold the biggest wonders.
Too hot for trout here, but fish in general are pretty amazing, no matter the habitat.

That picture looks deliciously cool by the way.

Deb said...

Greg- You can access it by the river; I'll email you directions. About 60% of the length of the stream is on Park Service land, then the private landowner I guess felt s/he had to make it very clear where the boundary was by stretching barbed wire across the stream. That kind of irritated me; I mean how many people are going to come up this stream anyway? And if you stay in the stream bed, I think you're legal.

FC- It was hot that day (well, for Minnesota) so it was nice to be in the shade with 50 degree water flowing by.

RuthieJ said...

What a beautiful place! I bet you really enjoyed your time spent at this stream.

webb said...

They use a much larger version of your shock-fishing here on the James River to study the shad as they work their way up stream to spawn. there is a project to take out dams up stream to allow them to go farther inland. Apparently the spawn in fresh water, then travel downstream and live in salty or brackish water. It's all quite interesting, but not nearly as lovely as your stream.

Deb said...

RuthieJ- I would enjoy it even more if I was there on my own time (and hadn't forgotten my socks under the waders...the chafing wounds are just now healing!)

Webb- Sounds like a job for an electrofishing boat, which I have also worked on. Too bad humans made dams before thinking about the bigger picture.