April 26, 2016
April 26, 2016.
This will be your Stream Keeper’s first blog entry of 2016. I’ve been enjoying Picabo since my arrival on April 1st. During the past 2 weeks the hills and fields have burst into their familiar spring green. A number of birds have returned to our valley including Sand Hill Cranes, American Bittern, Cinnamon Teal, and Yellow Headed Blackbirds. There are at least three pairs of geese family with goslings on The Pond. Antelope have come down from the hills and are feeding in the alfalfa fields along Gannett Road. Local ranchers have started irrigating and the weather has been unseasonably warm. We continue to get a few sparse showers but not the “soakers” that would benefit the creek. This season we are blessed with an above average snow pack for the first time in at least 4 years, so we are optimistic that creek levels and stream temperatures will favor our trout this season. The Pond is filled to it brim and the creek lately has been running above 100 cfs.
Today, the contractor removed the dredge boat from the Double R Ranch. The dredging project is now complete. We removed accumulated silt a couple of dredge boats wide along both banks of the creek from the head of Beat #7 down that entire straight stretch. Then the dredging proceeded around the back of the island which is at the head of Beat #6, and continued below the island down to the cosmetic wooden rail fence along the east bank. The dredge then worked its way upstream on the road-side of the island, passing the entrance to Beat #6. There now is little, if any, residual silt near the island or back channel, and the main channel has been deepened as well. I have heard that when one floats behind the island one can see gravel on the bottom and that the back channel itself is now 5 feet deep. I will take a “confirmation float” next week when the air temperatures get back up into the 70s.
Fish have already moved into the dredged portion of the Double R. The trout have been feeding on what has been a daily hatch of gray midges and black midges of varying sizes. I have occasionally observed a sparse Baetis hatch and have seen a couple of rather large Callibaetis on warm, sunny days.
It is difficult to accurately predict how good the fishing will be this season in Beat # 7 and the dredged portion of Beat #6 because it should take the whole season to re-establish the aquatic vegetation that is the basis for the “swimming” category of mayflies (e.g. Baetis, PMDs). However, there are several grounds for optimism. First, trout have already moved into the dredged portion of the creek and should frequent this water because its depth will make trout feel secure from predatory birds. Anglers should be able to tempt holding trout with large soft hackled flies, small streamers and oversized nymphs. Second, the twice-a-day phenomena of “behavioral drift” should “re-seed” the dredged stretch, just as what happened in The Pond. Third, while the mayfly hatches may not be as dense during this first season, my sense is that the trout will key on members of these sparser hatches.
Nick and I are counting on receiving feedback from Members regarding how the dredged site fishes as the season progresses, as well as whether Members feel we should continue the dredging downstream after the 2016 season.
Doug Andres, Stream Keeper, Double R Ranch