Driftless Trout Anglers

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#1 Posted : Friday, October 06, 2017 2:43:34 PM
Rank: May Fly

Joined: 11/8/2016
Posts: 439
Location: Madison
Went to an old favorite stream recently and checked out a section that the DNR (I assume) was working on a month or so ago – happened to be there with my wife the day they started.

This is a stretch that I'd fished enough that I could have drawn a map of bends, holes, riffles and good lies based on memory alone.

Yeesh… totally gone.

The photos below don't match up exactly, but I wasn't planning a before and after when I shot them. Anyway…

First off a couple things.

I'm not one who reflexively criticizes the DNR (or TU) at every turn and in general, I support their efforts. The positives far outweigh the negatives and I appreciate what those folks do.

In the case of this section of stream, I understand why they have done what they did and I understand that they believe it to be in the best interest of not only the particular section, but the entire stream.

And it's likely that they are correct.

This is a grazed section that has a good 5 to 10 feet (at least) of deposited top soil that no doubt is the result of farming practices from 100 years ago. Fishing this, I would stand in the water on some of the bends and actually watch erosion happening as dirt would fall from the outer high banks in a (somewhat) steady crumble.

Those high banks are completely gone now and along with them the runs and holes (and fish) that were at their base(s).

Here's what a corner looked like earlier this year…

Here's what it looks like now (although this is a different corner than the above, but they were essentially the same then and are now and only 50 yards from each other)…

Here's another spot from two years ago…

And now, but looking more upstream…

Which leads me to these…

Have never seen them and seems like an innovative use of old trees for structure. The trunks are buried deep into the bank so that a flood will have a hard time dislodging them. Root balls are left in the water to provide cover and maybe gouge holes?

I don't know though. Many in this stretch were placed in the slow part of the current, which leads me to believe that the will just get silted in instead of creating a hole. If that happens, maybe the channel will become deeper on the other side though – we'll see. Maybe that's the point.

Here's a fish that I got at the end of May in another good spot…

Here's one from the same spot (looking more upstream) after the stream work…

You can see the obvious difference in the bank and this was the only spot in the entire stretch that resembled its old self under water.

To sum up… I guess I just needed a therapy post as a longtime favorite (and productive) spot is forever altered.

I'm sure the goal of this project was to stop stream bank erosion and improve the water quality and I've no doubt that it will accomplish those goals.

I won't be able to properly judge the (selfish) personal impact for a year or two and I understand that.

For now though, it was jarring to see this.

My buddy who owns land and a cabin on the ridge above this section was just as jarred as he's fished it far longer than me.
Your mother had a tongue like a trout!
#2 Posted : Saturday, October 07, 2017 1:28:47 AM
Rank: Midge

Joined: 10/7/2017
Posts: 1
Location: Central wi
Change is always hard. That old stream was going to die a slow death with silt and bank erosion. Give the work a few years to grow in and it will be a dream.
#3 Posted : Saturday, October 07, 2017 10:40:40 AM
Rank: May Fly

Joined: 11/8/2016
Posts: 439
Location: Madison
Oh, I know it's all done for the right reasons and will make things much better. I wrote that right after I had seen it for the first time (couldn't post it coz of the site's ongoing issues) and was just shocked by how radically different things were.

Several other sections of this stream have had similar work done over the years and the fishing is now exceptional in those spots.

Your mother had a tongue like a trout!
#4 Posted : Saturday, October 07, 2017 3:34:46 PM
Rank: Caddis Fly

Joined: 4/16/2014
Posts: 172
Location: Lincolnshire, Illinois
Hmm, looks more like a park now.

I hope it's like a garden, that looks a little strange until the plants fill in. Otherwise, it's more like "restoration theater," where they just do it to have something to do, to show they do some work, to justify their budget On one hand, slowing down erosion and slowing down the corresponding deposit of silt into the stream bed is good, but on the other hand, the result looks a bit sterile.
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