Stonefly Search 2013

27 01 2013

A while back I attended the Quiet Water Symposium at the Michigan State Pavilion.  While I was walking around I cam across the Huron River Watershed Council booth.  I took some of their literature along with a map and when I got home I checked out their Facebook page and Website.  One day I received an email stating that they needed help collecting Stone Fly nymphs along the Huron River.  Next thing I know I am sitting at the New Center in Ann Arbor waiting for instructions.  While I waited I read over some of the paperwork involved.  Most important of which was a little guide as to what a Stonefly looks like and where I would be going.


My Cheat Sheet

While I was going through the paperwork I got to meet Rachel who would be tagging along with me today.  Since we were heading down to Flat Rock we were meeting a group of fly fishermen down there to assist with the collections.  Rachel and I were going to be the “Pickers” today, the group we were meeting were going to be the collectors.  After a brief description of what we were expected to do and a poem of what we could encounter we were on our way.

Our first stop was Port Creek near the Huron River.  With the recent cold snap and low water levels I wondered if we would even have any water.  After busting through the ice we found about 6 inches of water.  We took a sample and a couple of scoops but all we found was muck, a few midge larvae and a small darter.  We punched another hole about 100 feet away and got the same results.

Our crew sifting through the sample.

Our crew sifting through the sample.

Our next stop proved to be more productive.  We stopped at the DNR launch along the Huron River just east of Telegraph in Flat Rock.  There was no ice, the water was very clear and there was a lot of gravel.  I handed the net to Ed our collector while Rachel and I got the sample trays ready.  One of the helpers brought over a rock and Rachel went to work trying to locate a nymph.  It didn’t take long when she spotted one and she dropped it in the sample bottle.

Rachel picking.

Rachel picking.

We took a few more samples and eventually filled 2 specimen bottles with about 20 to 30 nymphs in each one.  After we were done we took the samples back to the organizers at the New Center where they will do their studies.  These nymphs are very sensitive to changes in water quality.  If there is an abundant supply that means the river is healthy.  If the bugs are gone, they tend to get a little concerned.  This is one of the reasons why I volunteered to do this.  I like to know what is going on with the rivers I fish.  The Detroit River has cleaned up nicely from when my Dad used to fish it as a kid.  Seeing the Huron healthy is a great comfort for me and a lot of other fishermen.  The Flat Rock area is a great access point for people to possibly catch a steelhead without having to drive to the west side of the state to do it.  The results of what we did today will be used to further influence water use laws and fish stockings by the DNR.  If the river can’t support a forage base for the steelhead, no more plantings.

Our first one of the day.  Tiny little bugger isn't he?

Our first one of the day. Tiny little bugger isn’t he?