Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A New, Old Ecosystems Re-birth

There is a small stream near by, that trout unlimited and a few local communities have recently done amazing work on.

In the image below, you see the newly created mud flat and a stream channel searching for it's new path.  Had I shot a wider image, you would still see the excavators and bulldozers off to the right working at making a new, and user friendly slope and picnic area.


When I stopped a few weeks back, I spoke to a local conservation commission member who was very happy to give me lots of info on the project.  The nuts and bolts are that the land about .5 miles upstream has been protected and the whole stream can be fished at this point... if you can get to it.  The stream has had wild brookies for ever, and some where along the way, browns were introduced, probably via stockings of the pond that used to cover the mud flat pictured above.  According to the man I spoke with, the dam had been there for 140-150 years, but that the construction of an interstate about .25 miles away 30-35 years ago resulted in the ponds then owner draining the pond, and letting the state dredge it and use the material for parts of the road... Thus the silt was only about 1-3 feet deep at this draining of the pond and breach of the dam.

The plan is to give the stream 2 years to find it's own route through the old pond's bed, letting the natural seed bank take hold and root.  Then they will do some additional work, potentially including a board walk to help improve access.

What I can say, is that you have to REALLY want to go upstream.

Just to the right of dead center in the pic, the stream goes into a funky area where it twists and turns and meanders via massive undercuts and even subterranean tunnels below unbelievable honey suckle, multi-flora rose and other super thick vegetation.  When the leaves are out, it's almost unfishable... It's absolutely best from ice out to leaf out... and then again just as the leaves fall.  I've never seen another human, and only a few human tracks over the years in this section of the stream.  You have to WANT to fish it, because it's brutal - just a wall of  brush and challenging undercuts.

But, the sandy terrain the brook works through, is full of springs, so even when water is low, in the middle of August, it's rare for this stream to go over 65.  Normally it's 60-62 that time of year.

And thanks to the hard work of TU and local volunteers, the stream now has direct access to a major river about .25miles below the breached dam.  That means trout can go down for additional cover... and that fish can work up from the river - something that folks already have seen taking place.  

It will be exciting to see how this ecosystem finds a new balance over the coming years!  

Today was the first time I've fished this section in quite a while, and though it was rewarding... the reward was solitude and the sound of flowing water... as no fish inspected the minimuddler I fished.  That's ok... I know they are there, tucked under the banks and root balls...

This spot is just above the old pond.  Barely.  You can see it if you stand on that bank to the left.  The woods straight ahead are deceiving, the brook does a U here and your looking back where you came from there... not into the jungle the brook runs through.  Where I'm standing in this shot is often a good spot, but not today...  Interestingly, when the brook hits the jungle it blows into two main stems.  one about 150 yds long and the bigger one about 200.  The pic above is the smaller one about 50 yds from the junction with the other stem.

This spot often results in dry fly hook ups.  Nothing today though.  it's a really nice glide, and is just above where the river splits into the jungle.  Still very thick in this section though.  The .5-.75 miles above this spot, past where the stream goes below the interstate is the "biggest" section.  So what you see, is as "big" as this stream gets...

Nice to have some quiet in the woods, and a few minutes of solitude to work through things... And even nicer to know that this eco system has been opened to run it's full course for the first time in almost 150 years!


  1. Nice report. It's good to see people taking an interest in helping our wild native. Hats off to those responsible for doing this work.
    When we help the brook trout we help ourselves in many ways.

    1. I completely agree Brk Trt. Part of what is awesome about this... is that folks see significant hard work going into this project since this portion where the dam was located is right on a busy commuter route with a nice picnic area. Hopefully, for years to come, it will be a well used and enjoyed outdoors space. I wish I had learned of the work sooner. It would have been fun to help on some - like invasive plant removal about 2.5 miles up stream from the dam that occurred a year and a few months ago. When I first saw the pond going down, I assumed it was simply a matter of the dam being old and leaky... I had no idea that a lot of additional work was happening.

  2. Nice looking stream, from the pictures it looks like there is tannin in the water. All that brush will makes sure the stream has wild trout for a long time to come since most people won't plow through it. Looking forward to some more reports