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Author Topic: Just Wondering  (Read 527 times)

bogtrotter

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Just Wondering
« on: Oct 13, 2020, 06:52 PM »
Sorry if this post "wanders" a bit, and I realize my question (below)  is probably better directed to the MA DFW, but I'm curious what you all think - - so here goes:

My local stream (i.e., the Hoosic) is a "borderline" warm/coldwater fishery: i.e., it is on the warm side for a trout stream, but nevertheless does hold a self-sustaining wild/holdover brookies, browns and rainbows,

Oddly, though, unlike some other similar streams that I can think of, the Hoosic does NOT hold any "other" game fish - - such as bass, catfish, crappie, perch, pickerel, pike, etc. 

In fact, over the past 25+ years, the only species (other than trout) that I have caught in appreciable numbers on the Hoosic have been dace (a/k/a chubs or fall fish) - - although I have also landed a handful of sunfish, bullhead and rock bass in a couple spots.

What particularly surprises me is the absence of any perch. 

I have NEVER caught a perch on any of the branches of the Hoosic.

This is particularly odd because Cheshire Lake (which is the headwaters of the South Branch of the Hoosic) contains loads of (stunted) perch.

If anything, I would have thought an environment that is clearly adequate to maintain a "specialist" species like trout would also be able to maintain some of the more "generalist" species like perch.

So here is my question:

GIVEN THAT THE HOOSIC IS BY ALL ACCOUNTS A "BORDERLINE" STREAM, WHY DOESN'T IT HOLD ANY PERCH?

(The same goes for some of the other game fish that I mentioned above - - but for the moment, I'm just focusing on the perch).

Or, to put it in broader terms:

DOES ANYONE OUT THERE HAVE ANY EXPLANATION (EVEN A SPECULATIVE ONE) FOR WHY THE HOOSIC HAS SUCH A "MONOCULTURE"?


The Jigger

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Re: Just Wondering
« Reply #1 on: Oct 13, 2020, 07:38 PM »
Is the Hoosic all fast running? Yellow perch need slow running or backwaters to sustain existence in the river.

stripernut

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Re: Just Wondering
« Reply #2 on: Oct 13, 2020, 07:39 PM »
Quote
self-sustaining wild/holdover brookies, browns and rainbows,

If it is self sustaining and trout are repodusing generations of fish, then those waters are not really borderline... And is too cold to hold a perch population (in moving water).

bogtrotter

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Re: Just Wondering
« Reply #3 on: Oct 13, 2020, 08:08 PM »
Although there are parts of the Hoosic that are relatively cold/rocky bottomed/fast - - and that's generally where you find the trout, there are others that are warmer/sandier/slower.

Based on my experience with some other streams (like the West Housatonic), I would expect to  see (and catch) perch in the warmer/sandier/slpwer stretches, with some "overlap" between trout and perch on the margins - - but I don't.

Is there really that firm a "boundary line" (in terms of water temperature or speed) between perch-streams and non-perch streams?

Is the overlap between perch and trout waters really that unusual?

i know of a fair number of ponds that hold both, so I don't see in principle why the same should not hold true for streams as well.

Again, I would have expected perch to be less "picky" than trout in terms of habitat - - or, to put it another way, while I understand trout are relatively intolerant to warm/slow/dirtier waters, I thought perch were comparatively tolerant of a wider range of temperature/speed/clarity conditions.

zwiggles

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Re: Just Wondering
« Reply #4 on: Oct 13, 2020, 08:29 PM »
If it is self sustaining and trout are repodusing generations of fish, then those waters are not really borderline... And is too cold to hold a perch population (in moving water).

That’s my thought too.

stripernut

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Re: Just Wondering
« Reply #5 on: Oct 13, 2020, 08:32 PM »
In my exsperience it is about the faster water with the colder temp with perch...

bogtrotter

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Re: Just Wondering
« Reply #6 on: Oct 13, 2020, 08:45 PM »
OK, so is the consensus that trout streams are generally monocultures because the conditions (mainly relatively fast and cool moving waters) that tend to favor trout simultaneously disfavor other game fish, such as perch?

Let me ask a slightly different variant of my original question.

I fished the Farmington in CT this past summer.  It holds both trout and small mouth bass.  If anything, it is faster and cooler than the Hoosic. 

Yet, the Hoosic only contains trout, not bass (neither large or small mouth) - - even though Cheshire Lake (its headwaters) does hold LM bass.

Why the overlap between small mouths and trout in one stream but not the other?


stripernut

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Re: Just Wondering
« Reply #7 on: Oct 13, 2020, 10:21 PM »
I am no ichthyologists and they would be best to get these answers. That said the Farmington (if I remember right) is larger and has bigger/deeper pools that the smallmouth seem to need.

Ryan51993

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Re: Just Wondering
« Reply #8 on: Oct 14, 2020, 07:36 AM »
I can't explain why, but I know of an identical situation on a river near me. It comes out of a small pond which contains lmb/pickerel/perch/catfish/dace/trout/etc. But I have never seen nor caught anything except trout and dace in the river. And the river is not exceptionally cold or fast moving but has tons of native brookies. Even the slow deep areas don't contain any warm water species whatsoever. All I can guess is that they don't find whatever it is they're looking for when they enter the river and quickly decide to turn back around.

zwiggles

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Re: Just Wondering
« Reply #9 on: Oct 14, 2020, 08:31 AM »
Are there any dams in play? I feel like when dams are not around the high flows in spring/fall push out a lot of rough fish out of the system?

westernmas

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Re: Just Wondering
« Reply #10 on: Oct 14, 2020, 08:46 AM »
I've also been curious why the westfield branches don't hold any bigger smallmouth.  Once the water gets lower and warmer its all there seems to be yet the biggest one i've ever caught was like 10-11 inches.

Like this one I got on Monday.




Also picked up a freshly stocked bow that was 16 inches but fought like a log and a 10 inch broookie. Nice to be able to fish locally again.
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lowaccord66

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Re: Just Wondering
« Reply #11 on: Oct 14, 2020, 12:15 PM »
Farmington river has perch in it too in the lower stretches...

bogtrotter

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Re: Just Wondering
« Reply #12 on: Oct 15, 2020, 02:10 PM »
To quote (or at least paraphrase) Rod Serling from the Twilight Zone, I "submit for your consideration" the following response that I received from a MA Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist to an email which I recently submitted along with the post at the top of this thread:


Dear Jim,


I received your email inquiry on fish species the Hoosic River.


The Hoosic River is, in fact, a Coldwater Fisheries Resource, meaning it has the appropriate elements that coldwater species need to survive such as temperature, flow & available habitat for various life stages.

The Hoosic does have reproducing populations of Brook Trout & Brown Trout, while any Rainbow Trout found are the result of stocking efforts by the Division. We do stock all 3 trout species in the river each spring, the majority of which are Brook & Brown Trout.

In addition to trout, the Hoosic does hold a variety of other species as found during fisheries surveys. In addition to the 3 trout species, the species found include: Banded Killifish, Blacknose Dace, Bluegill, Bluntnose Minnow, Brown Bullhead, Common Shiner, Creek Chub, Fathead Minnow, Golden Shiner, Largemouth Bass, Longnose Dace, Pumpkinseed, Rock Bass, Slimy Sculpin, & White Sucker. The Hoosic does have a diverse fish population, with a mix of fluvial (species that require flow) & generalist species present.

The presence of generalist species in rivers typically happens when fish move downstream from larger bodies of water (example: Cheshire Reservoir). Once in the rivers, they can reside there for a period of time, usually in the warmer, slower moving areas of the river. They typically do not live in rivers for long & are not found there in large populations, as conditions are not adequate for reproduction & rearing.

Generalist species, such as bass, sunfish, escocids (pickerel & pike) & perch, are more often found in warmer, slower water (such as ponds & lakes), as their reproductive biology requires that type of environment. They are not readily equipped to deal with life in a constant flowing environment; most coldwater species are. They are generalist in the sense that they can live in many different habitat types & temperature regimes, but still do need slower & deeper waters to reproduce, feed & thrive. 

This is also true for perch. They spawn in the late winter, need deeper waters & vegetated areas as “nurseries” for young fish & for feeding. The type of habitat they need to complete their life cycles is not found in flowing rivers.

 

Your best bet for catching perch, bass & sunfish would be in larger waterbodies such as Cheshire Reservoir or Pontoosuc Lake, where populations of them are present.

 
I hope I was able to answer your questions. Please feel free to reach out if you have any further questions. Thank you for your inquiry.

 
Best regards,

Leanda Fontaine

Aquatic Biologist, Western District
Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife
88 Old Windsor Rd, Dalton, MA 01226
p: (413) 684-1646 | f: (413) 684-1705
mass.gov/masswildlife | facebook.com/masswildlife

 

westernmas

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Re: Just Wondering
« Reply #13 on: Oct 15, 2020, 02:58 PM »
Very informative answer.  Thanks for sharing!
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bogtrotter

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Re: Just Wondering
« Reply #14 on: Oct 15, 2020, 03:41 PM »
I agree that Ms. Fontaine's response to my query was both thoughtful and well-written.

The one statement in her email that I might take issue with (or at least insert a caveat with regard to) is when she refers to fishery surveys revealing there to be largemouth bass in the Hoosic.

In my 25+ years of fishing the three branches of that river, I have neither caught a single largemouth bass myself nor even heard of (much less actually seen) anyone else do so.

Consequently, although I am willing to grant the truth of Ms. Fontaine's statement that DFW surveys (which I assume means "shocking") turned up a few largemouths, I am inclined to treat those results as "flukes," and certainly not representative of the typical fish population in the Hoosic.

As for Ms. Fontaine's basic explanation as to why perch are not found in the Hoosic (i.e., it is too cold/fast/shallow to support them), on balance, I am inclined to "buy" it, at least in general terms.

Again, however, I can think of a few caveats and/or counterexamples.

For example, the SW Housatonic is roughly similar to the Hoosic, and it has both trout and perch.

Moreover, there are some relatively warm/slow/deep sections of the Hoosic that I would expect to hold perch but don't.

 



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