Huron River Clean Up Day.

17 05 2015

Spent the morning of Saturday May 16th cleaning up a section of the Huron river below Peninsular Dam with some other volunteers.  We filled close to two dozen bags with garbage.  Afterwards I got a vote of approval from a very unlikely individual.

It made my day.

Galactic Empire Approval

 

 





Stonefly Search Results

11 02 2015

Here are the results from the stonefly search I did last month on the Huron River.  I had collection sites 26 and 51.  As expected pickings were slim.

Go to the link to see the results and the history for each location.

http://www.hrwc.org/2015/02/stoneflies-cute-and-educational/





October Bug Hunt with the HRWC

20 10 2014

Ever wonder what it looks like when crayfish get freaky?

8623752404_0064c157c5_b

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is what I saw last Saturday while I was helping out the HRWC with their Fall River Round Up.  I was a collector that day on Letz creek in downtown Chelsea Michigan.  It was a rainy miserable day but I stuck it out and went about my duties.  The creek itself is pretty shallow and narrow.  I could pretty much see anything and everything that was going on.  While I was running my sampling net along the rocks and logs hoping to scoop up a few Aquatic Benthic Macroinvertebrates I stumbled across two crayfish getting busy much like the two in this picture.  At first I thought the bigger one had the smaller one pinned down and was eating eat.  I then realized what was going on so being the wonderful individual I am I scooped them up with the net and tossed them into the sampling tray so that the young pickers could marvel at them.  I’m sure the crayfish didn’t appreciate it but If I have to be out of my natural element for the greater good so should they.  Eventually they were released but I don’t know if they managed to hook up again.  Probably not.  I’m sure that was more than the female bargained for.

We did end up catching quite a few mayfly nymphs at our two sampling sites.  That tells me the river is rather clean but this feeder of Mill Creek is to shallow and warm to support any fish that I would want to catch.  At least it is producing the insects that the stocked brown trout and smallmouth like to eat not to far away.

This marked the last of my volunteer work with the Huron River Water Shed Council for this year.  I helped out at both the Spring and Fall River Round Up’s and assisted with water quality monitoring along Ecorse Creek.  Bug ID day is this coming weekend but I already have other plans.  All the results will be posted sometime next month and once I receive it I will pass it on.





July 4th Weekend Report

7 07 2014

Decided to give it a shot Saturday morning (7/5) figuring no one would be on the water after all the celebrating from the day before.  Problem was I didn’t take into account that I would be getting home so late myself.  I ended up getting a later start than I wanted and what made it worse was Gibraltar road was closed so I had to take a detour.  Add in the fact that I was heading over to Amherstburg and the ensuing call in (which was remarkably easy) I didn’t even start fishing until 8:30 am.  I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal since the water is deeper here and there was a nice stain to the water.  What I didn’t count on was the millions and millions of mayfly casings floating on the water.  They were all bunched up in groups and they were everywhere.  I’m betting the people that live up on lake St. Clair are having a fit right now.  Floating weeds were mixed in with the casings and I ended up spending most of my morning clearing lines.  I could have ran back over to the US side but I had already wasted enough time and it was getting to late in the morning for it to do any good.  I fought through it for a couple of hours, tried different areas but I only managed one small walleye.  I didn’t even catch any non target species.  Either the fish gorged themselves on mayfly nymphs or they were still in hiding from all the rockets red glare the night before.  At least I’m on the Ontario database now so calling in should be a breeze. 

Originally my plan was to sleep in on Sunday (7/6) but after my abysmal trip the day before I had to try and salvage something for the weekend.  This time I was up at 5:30 am and on the water with lines down at 6:00 pm back in US water.  It was still cloudy out and the water much cleaner and the surface was casing and weed free.  Things were looking good.  Just wish the walleye felt the same way.  I didn’t get my first fish until almost 7:30 am. and it turned out to be a 36 inch Musky.  I picked up a few smallmouth and around 8:00 am I finally had a walleye in the box.  By now the sun was well above the tree line but the clouds were still keeping it in check.  I worked over my usual areas pretty hard trying different speeds, spoons, body baits, anything I could think of to trigger a strike.  I only had a short window of opportunity since I had to do some river work for the HRWC at 11:30 up near South Lyon.  I decided to give the deeper water below the free bridge a shot for the last 30 minutes.  I Marked a number of fish but all I was able to get was another smallmouth.  As I was nearing the end of the coal dock I noticed how the current formed and eddy at the very head of it and sped up as it went around.  I thought to myself that that looked like a good ambush spot and moved in to try and work the seam.  It didn’t take long when my second walleye hit and shortly thereafter he was in the box.  I made another loop through the area but didn’t catch anything else.  I would have worked the area harder but I had to get going.  I marked the waypoint for future reference.  I’ll have to run over the entire length of the dock and mark the depth change a little more closely. 

So that was it for the weekend, 3 fish for almost 6 hours of fishing.  A couple of things to note.  Both walleye caught in US waters had a size #9 Goby in their stomach.  I tried #9 Rapala’s in several colors but with no luck.  I did catch both of them on a #7 Clown Rapala.  So much for matching the hatch.  The water on the US side is still ridiculously clear and the weed growth is showing it.  Shallow areas around the islands have weeds all the way to the surface.  Once these west winds stop I have a feeling the floating weeds mats are really going to be a problem very soon. 

I hope July starts to turn around, so far it is really starting to suck.





Wood Creek, The Results.

23 11 2013

Earlier this week I went to a presentation by the HRWC of all the work the volunteers did this summer.  The data I gathered along with the data from over 100 volunteers was compiled into a 90 minute power point presentation.  This presentation took all the pictures, water samples, temp readings, bug collections and water flow measurements and put it into something I could understand.  The main thing I took form this is that the whole watershed is given a score from 1 to 100.  A score of 1 is basically the bottom of a port a john where as 100 is perfectly pristine.  The watershed as a whole had an average score of 67, with one section up by White Lake scoring a 93.

As for Wood Creek the overall score was a 66 which is extremely close to the river average.  Not bad but their were a few bright points and some areas for concern.  Phosphorus levels were above the accepted number but not by much.  Anyone who fishes in my world knows what high phosphorus levels leads too…Algal blooms.  Granted they won’t be as bad as the blooms in western Lake Erie but any bloom is a bad one.

One other item of concern that bothered me was in relation to the fish, specifically Steelhead.  Years ago  adult Steelhead were seen trying to spawn in Wood Creek.  A DNR electroshocking survey failed to locate any young of the year fish.  That still doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a hatch but it is highly unlikely.  One thing I did find out was that there is a dam .6 miles upstream from the mouth.  This dam is blocking the steelhead from being able to swim farther upstream to more suitable habitat.  Maybe someday the Dam will be removed.   This data will be used to help make the case for removing the dam along with other improvements throughout the whole watershed.  Hopefully the improvements will happen.

Overall it was an interesting experience that I will do again.  I’m sure they will contact me again to help out and hopefully a different stream.

 

 

 

 

 





River Scout, The Final Visit.

24 09 2013

 

It all comes down to this, the final visit.  Three months of trying to coordinate five people to meet and gather data along a 300 foot section of stream in southeast Michigan.  Seemed simple enough at first but it proved to be more problematic than I thought.  I figured the final visit would just be Erin and I again and I was right.  Only problem this time was faulty equipment.

On our final visit I arrived early so I could set some crayfish and minnow traps.  I had seen fish on earlier visits but could never get a good look at any of them.  The deepest part of the stream was where I placed the thermometer so I figured that would be a good site for a trap.  I also placed a crayfish trap further upstream in a rocky area hoping to catch some more crayfish and get a good positive ID.  Everything was set, now all I had to do was wait for Erin to show up.

AS I walked back to my Jeep Erin was heading down the trail.  After are Hello’s we headed back to the parking lot to get the rest of the gear.  We picked up the paperwork, meter, measuring stick and my camera and headed back to the stream.  Our starting point was where I placed my crayfish trap and we had 6 crayfish already in the trap.  As I started to pull them out for pictures I found out that 3 of them were the invasive Rusty.  The other 3 were northern crayfish.  They were a lot bigger than the Rusty’s so I’m hoping they are holding their own against them.  We took a few pictures and then started to take our initial readings.  This was when I found out the meter didn’t work.  I should have known better to check it when I picked it up but I didn’t.  Can’t take any readings without a meter so we started to pack everything up.  We took some pictures of some of the plants and that was when I found out the memory card on my camera was full.  This came as a bit of a surprise to me but then I remembered that I let my daughter borrow my camera for a day at the beach with friends.  She must have used up all my memory taking pictures.  Teenagers…….

Well so much for this day.  I pulled the traps and we packed everything up until later on when I can get a new meter and a blank memory card for the camera.  Oh well…..

Round 2   

Well after picking up a new meter, clearing some space on my camera disc and installing a fresh set of batteries we were ready to go again.  I didn’t bother with the traps this time, I caught what I wanted so there was no need.  This was going to be a quick gather some reading trip.  I started off taking the initial readings but when we reached the halfway point I handed the GPS and water conductivity meter over to Erin.  She wanted to see how the meter worked and I needed to get some pictures of her as well.  She took about 4 more readings and then next thing we knew we were at the end of our sample area.  All that was left now was for Erin to compile all the data and for me to turn it in with all the equipment.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

I have to say this was a lot more fun than I thought it would be.  Walking up and down Wood Creek brought back a lot of fond memories of myself as a kid exploring all the creeks and streams of my youth.

Good Times.

DSCN0598 DSCN0596 DSCN0565 Last Wood Creek Visit (6')





River Scout Part One

5 08 2013

 

Several months back I received an email from the Huron River Watership Council.  They were looking for volunteers for a new program they were starting up, River Scouts.  The council members are trying to collect data on the hundreds of miles of creeks and tributaries that feed into the Huron River.  Since funds are tight for this kind of field work they need volunteers.  I volunteered.

I had to attend a training meeting to find out what this was all about.  I was going to be part of a 5 person team (I have to say person because I was the only male, sometimes it’s good to be me) that was assigned to Wood Creek.  This little stream is located in Lower Huron Metro Park.  My team and I would be making 3 visits throughout the summer to take readings, pictures, clean up garbage and record any observations concerning wildlife or any aquatic critters.  Seems simple right?  Oh was I in for a surprise.

Since we are all volunteers we are doing this out of the kindness of our hearts.  If other things come up then our volunteer work will have to wait.  Such is the case with this.  Trying to schedule a time when all five of us would be available was next to impossible.  Throw in the fact that the June of 2013 received almost twice as much rain as we normally do and you can see what I was up against.  Eventually I just said to heck with everyone’s schedule and just picked a date.  July 4th.

I sent out the email stating the date and only one person showed up, Erin.  That’s okay, for what we needed to do I figured one person would be enough.  I was more worried about the water levels anyway.  The prior weekend the levels were about 4 feet above normal and made wading the stream hazardous.  I had stopped by on July 2nd to see what the level was like and it had dropped some.  My fingers were crossed that a few more days and no rain would finally allow me to do the initial testing.  Erin arrived shortly after I did and we packed up the gear and headed to the stream.  The water level was back down to normal so we waded in.  After one step I remembered that I never fixed the leak in my hip boots.  Erin just waded in with what she was wearing.  She soon found out that all natural insect repellant doesn’t work worth a damn.  They attacked her in swarms.  For some strange reason they left me alone, not that I was complaining.

Part of our work is to take temperature and water conductivity readings.  The meter they gave me takes both temperatures and measures the ions in the stream.  Anything under a reading of 2 means the water is clean and healthy.  We had to take a reading every 30 feet and mark it with GPS coordinates as well.  All of our reading were around 20 degrees Celsius (or 68 Degrees Fahrenheit) and a conductivity reading of .80.  All seems good.  The stream itself had a gravel bottom the whole length we checked.  A good sign for all those Steelheaders.  A member of the HRWC told me that they have had reports of steelhead fingerlings this far up the Huron so this may be a viable spawning area for them.

Another part of our job was to take pictures of the surrounding vegetation and make notes of any aquatic or land based wildlife.  Didn’t see any critters but I did see lots of baitfish in the stream.  As far as insects go there were a lot of damsel flies and of course about a gazillion mosquitoes. Because of this and the total failure of Erin’s all natural repellant we hurried through our sampling and got off the stream in a hurry.  She was a little annoyed that I never got bit.  Like I said before, sometimes it’s good to be me.  She was a good sport about it thought and offered to enter all our data in to the spreadsheet we were given.  I told her I would go through the pictures and add them alter when she was done.

Mission Accomplished, now all I had to do was try and schedule future visits with the rest of the team.

I’m not too optimistic about this.

Up Next, Creek Walk #2 and my Advanced Warning System.

Wood Creek (1) Wood Creek (2)





Stonefly search follow up

11 02 2013

I just received an e-mail from the HRWC detailing the results of the Stonefly search I took part in a few weeks back.  The HRWC has been taking samples from the Flat Rock section of the Huron River since 2001 and the newbies must have been good luck because we collected a family group that had never been there before.  Perlodids were the new species collected along with 2 others that are normally there.  I couldn’t tell one bug from the other but apparently this increased diversity means greater stream health.

The 3 types we found circled in red

The 3 types we found circled in red

 

They also took the water samples we collected at each site for analysis.  I really don’t understand the scientific meaning of it all but the one thing I did understand was the effect of the low water levels.  A lot of the smaller streams had little or no flow during the summer months.  I’m sure this had some bearing on different chemical levels.  No rain, no fertilizer draining off the fields into the streams.  I know the lack of rain was the main cause for the algae blooms not being as drastic in Lake Erie as in years past.

 

If anyone wants to read all the data and see the results from all the sample sites just click on the link below.  If you are really interested, volunteer to help out at the next critter search.

http://www.hrwc.org/