I was looking for some images for a proposal and came across some interesting footage and photo of Diego and I out on a walk on Little Canadaway on brisky sunny winter day back in 2008. We found a piece of ice caught perfectly in the current so that it spun continually and a few minutes later, the young man landed a steelhead.
This past weekend, Sunday, October 30th, S.A.R.E.P. Youth Fly Fishing Program had their first outing in search of steelhead. The group included the young students, their parents, a few community members and a group of dedicated mentors. The group had spent the last few weeks tying flies in preparation for this trip.
After the group was outfitted with waders, boots, rods and reels, individual casting lessons began on the lawn.
A few minutes later, the students were on the water using their new skills.
Jimbo, one of our mentors for the past decade, moved on to work with another young student as sun started to move closer to the horizon.
On another beat of the stream, Mike, another mentor, worked with a couple new students as the looked at steelhead moving upstream.
He looked on as he gave casting instructions from the bank.
Sue, one of our newest mentors and mother of one of the students, jumped at the opportunity to help with the casting instructions.
She got a lot of practice untangling lines from trees and rods as her daughter looked on with amusement.
I gave a couple lessons on tying an improved clinch knot as we attached on one of their newly tied flies.
Along the way we saw one of the hundreds of willow trees we have planted over the past 14 years. It was nice to see them do well and adhered tightly to the banks.
Overall, we had a wonderful fall day on our local stream as we cast to beautiful steelhead as they moved through the pools. I know many will be haunted by the long shadows and dream about these chrome beauties as I have been for many years.
Next Monday we return to the Fredonia Central Middle School to our weekly fly tying sessions where we will tie up some streamers in preparation for our next trip.
We are ready for our next trip!
This past Saturday, the kids, community members and mentors that make up the S.A.R.E.P. Youth Fly Fishing Program met with our good friend, Mr. Steve Welk from Whispering Pines Hatchery, to introduce brook trout spawners into Canadaway Creek. We have heard reports passed down through the generations of family members catching brook trout in the stream but brook trout have not been found in the stream for close to a century due high water temperature, agriculture, riparian condition, one or more non-native fish species, urbanization and acidic deposition. Brook trout populations have been eliminated or greatly reduced throughout almost half of their historical habitat in the eastern United States according released assessments by Trout Unlimited and a coalition of state and federal agencies. The report says brook trout populations remain strong in only 5 percent of their historical habitat in the eastern United States.
In 2006, S.A.R.E.P. Youth Fly Fishing program made a large investment to try to rectify the situation by purchasing 265 gallon tank, stand, chiller, pump and filter and place it in the Mr. Dan Lawrence’s science room. We got eggs donated from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) hatchery in Randolph and we began to raise brook trout in the classroom. The following year Canadaway creek had brook trout in its waters for the first time in around 100 years. Over the years we learned a great deal about the fragility of this trout species and difficulty in raising them in a classroom. As the program continued, it became clear that we needed professional help and that we need to supplement the brook trout we were raising if we wanted to try to create a strain of brook trout that could survive in Canadaway Creek. Ever since then we have worked closely with Mr. Steve Welk.
Over the years we have tried to introduce around 400 six to nine inch brook trout in the spring and an additional 100-125 larger brookies in the fall that are ready to spawn. We have also worked closely with the DEC and have electro-shocked the stream during the warmest months in the summer to find where the brook have survived. Thanks to their efforts, we have been able to find the coolest spring waters with a thick canopy in fairly inaccessible locations that is best suited to support the introduction of the these trout. With the support of the Orvis, Patagonia World Trout Fund, Dreamcatcher Foundation and private donors, we have been able to continue our educational and conservation programming.
These are some of the images and short video (one minute) from our recent trip to introduce some new spawners into the stream.
Thank you all for your work in making the Sixth Annual Canadaway Creek Conservation Project a big success!
This year had record number of participants (109!) which were all very important in planting 225 dogwoods and willow trees and almost filling a 30 yard dumpster! We also expanded the activities this year to incorporate the removal of invasive plant species in specific sections of the stream! What a great group of volunteers!
Schedule of this year’s events:
After everyone signed in, got their t-shirts, hats, gloves and maps,
Lunch was provided for all the workers.
This year’s event was highlighted by a presention by Dr. Ted Lee, a professor from State University of New York at Fredonia, who spoke about the invasive plant species in the area and about the healthy native alternatives.
The presentation was very stimulating and gave the group a great deal to think about. Many of the the children were excited that they could identify the invasive species as they walked along the creek collecting garbage. Everyone listened attentively to Ted’s words.
After the presentation, the group broke up into teams and began planting trees,
cleaning the stream,
and removing the invasive plant species.
It was a wonderful day and we look forward to seeing everyone and their friends next year!
This past May, we had a little outing with our youth group and a few community members. Along the way, we noticed some mayflies on the road.
The mentors worked with the kids on their casting before we hit the water.
We also discussed approaching the water, entomology and how to read the water before fishing.
Finn lands his first fish on a fly he tied!
On the lower pond, the brook trout were more selective but we were able to find some other beauties.
At the end of this beautiful day, we all realized that the trip wasn’t entirely about catching fish.