Driftless Trout Anglers

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William Schlafer  
#1 Posted : Sunday, April 24, 2016 1:26:42 PM(UTC)
William Schlafer
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Last week I went on a fishing trip to the Driftless Area and stopped at a two streams I haven't visited in a couple years: Richland Creek in Crawford County, and Reads Creek in Vernon County.

Upon arrival I discovered they've been overrun by Beavers. The little bastards have built a series of dams, one after another up and down the best sections of both streams. Some of the dams were massive, with 3-4 feet of silt built up behind them.
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The Beavers at Richland Creek had mowed down many trees along the stream bank, and also well up on the sides of the hill. Tree and brush debris was everywhere. Where there used to be great riffles and runs, is now a mess of tree branches and muck.
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The damage on the hillside doesn't show up well on the photo above, but they've knocked down a number of trees over a large area which will eventually cause more soil runoff into the stream. A bunch of trees were girdled (bark completely removed around the base) which will kill them even if the Beavers don't chop them down.

Reads Creek is the worst hit, with seven or eight dams along a 3/4 mile section near the nursery. Several are massive structures that have wiped out some terrific stream beds and trapping Trout between them. There used to be several excellent runs here, but it's now buried.
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Both of these two streams flood hard with the spring snow melt, and following heavy rain events. Mother Nature may rearrange the Beavers work, but they will quickly rebuild it if they're not removed. Hopefully there will be efforts by local authorities, the DNR or other agencies to remove these dams before they wipe out a seasons Trout spawn on these terrific streams.


-Bill

Edited by user Sunday, April 24, 2016 1:29:25 PM(UTC)  | Reason: damned typos!

“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
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madguy30  
#2 Posted : Sunday, April 24, 2016 2:20:54 PM(UTC)
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Best times I've had on Reads Creek were when there were beaver dams. Used to be one of my favorite streams to venture around despite Highway 14 being there.

That creek was ruined last year when I went there by lots of weed growth...looked chemically fed.

Also not the same after it was reshaped human-style a couple summers back in spots that really didn't need work, and there were plenty of trout to begin with.

I understand there's a lot of time and work put in, but sometimes I don't know if I should have brought my fly rod, swimming trunks, or a white water kayak for the facelifts.

Saw quite a few dams last week...the beaver population must be doing well.
ozzyky  
#3 Posted : Sunday, April 24, 2016 6:19:53 PM(UTC)
ozzyky
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No trout in the deeper water they created above the dam?
William Schlafer  
#4 Posted : Sunday, April 24, 2016 6:59:56 PM(UTC)
William Schlafer
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ozzyky wrote:
No trout in the deeper water they created above the dam?


There were on Reads Creek, but most of the Trout caught on that stream were below the dams. The pools above the dams on Richland Creek were filled with silt. They were wide, shallow and pretty lifeless looking.


-Bill
“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
s.t.fanatic  
#5 Posted : Monday, April 25, 2016 6:51:54 AM(UTC)
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The suppression of fire in the country over the past 100 years is to blame for problems mentioned here. Periodic prescribed fire will keep the trees in check. No willows = no beavers. That is one thing that confuses me about these habitat projects. They finish the projects and seed with native grasses but do not manage them. Without periodic fire the non desirable grasses will out compete the native stuff and the saplings will start to take over and eventually shade out the grasses and your back to square one.
Pete  
#6 Posted : Monday, April 25, 2016 9:00:57 AM(UTC)
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During the Winter, one of the weekly DNR reports mentioned that beaver pelt prices were pretty low and the only beavers being trapped were those making nuisances of themselves. Looks as if quite a few of those being nuisances weren't trapped either.
banff bow  
#7 Posted : Monday, April 25, 2016 10:57:45 AM(UTC)
banff bow
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I fished another driftless stream yesterday and ran into the same problem. Easy 20-25 beaver dams built where historically there would be 3-4. Really ruined a lot of the fishery
NBrevitz  
#8 Posted : Monday, April 25, 2016 11:23:35 AM(UTC)
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Even though Browns are far more heat tolerant, I think Brookies adjust to dams much better than Browns do. At least when beaver activity reaches infestation levels...
"I fish because I love to: Because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness."
s.t.fanatic  
#9 Posted : Monday, April 25, 2016 2:04:56 PM(UTC)
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We have a bit of a beaver infestation on our property. The main dam has been there for three or four years. The bottom is all silt and the pool above is absolutely packed with brook trout. I've been a bit more proactive this past year about getting rid of them but there is still a few around. The trout population took a big hit though in some of the better holes in the stream. The problem with beavers is that it is only a matter of time before otters move in. They were fun to watch but ate a lot of fish. They weren't around for more than a month or so and took off so the trout can rest easy for a while. I'm going to assume that they will be back about the same time next fall. Time will tell.
William Schlafer  
#10 Posted : Monday, May 2, 2016 12:59:33 PM(UTC)
William Schlafer
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I received an email reply today from Jordan Weeks - the DNR Fisheries Biologist for Crawford, La Crosse, Monroe, Vernon counties. He mentions that they are swamped this year with requests to remove Beaver dams. Time and money are the limiting factors. Although he said that he'll put Reads and Richland Creeks on the list.

Sure would be nice if Bald Eagles would develop a taste for Beavers. (no jokes please) RollEyes


-Bill
“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
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