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Muddy fishing in the big ditch

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  • Muddy fishing in the big ditch

    Just returned topside from a very interesting fishing trip in the canyon. I do endangered fish monitoring in the Little Colorado River (LCR). We survey the last 15 KM of the LCR from its confluence with the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The LCR drains an area about 1/2 the size of the state of Maine. Prior to us going in, there was considerable rain in that watershed.

    When Powell first explored the Grand Canyon, he described the water as "too thick to drink and too thin to plow." That is what we encountered. A 5 gal bucket of water when settled out would have about 6" of thick mud in the bottom.

    The first 2 pictures are of the same rock in the river. The first is at base flow and the second was taken this trip. With the water flowing fast, our hoop nets filled up with twigs, silt and other debris. My crew is working to get a net unstuck. In the second pic, you can see that they are getting the net out of the water. The fifth pic shows the river raging where we normally walk between the boulders and the river. Since it is almost waist deep there with calf deep mud on the bottom, we chose to climb instead of swimming. The next pic is the raging river. Here is a hydro-graph from the USGS gauging station just above the confluence. Normal (base) flow is 230CFS (cubic feet per second). As you can see, we had peak flows of 3000 CFS. Parts of our trail go through vegetation. It grew with the summer rains to make hiking more challenging even when the trail wasn't covered with water. The last pic is dessert one evening -- strawberries on pound cake with a little whipped cream. A well fed crew is a happy crew.
    Attached Files
    Mtnman Jim

    taking life as it comes and trying to make the best of it

  • #2
    How do any fish live in water like that ?

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    • #3
      Tom -- They seem to do quite well. It seems that all the grit would sand their gills, but most fish can contend with muddy conditions. Our catch rates were down, but they always are low in turbid water.
      Mtnman Jim

      taking life as it comes and trying to make the best of it

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      • #4
        nice pictures, I wouldn't mind having a job like that!

        Trout
        Hawk G-4 Jetcraft
        Fish are food, not friends!

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        • #5
          That's a cool job, literally

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          • #6
            No snake encounters this trip. That is good. Did you ever get any cake with that whipped cream?
            "Still Montana Mike"

            "Don't worry about old age--it doesn't last that long."
            Mike's Wood-n-Things LLC

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            • #7
              How are the fish doing?
              Keith

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              • #8
                Trout & nayo -- We do take volunteers in to help us out -- so if you are interested in going on a trip, let me know and I can get you added to the list of folks who receive the call for volunteers announcement. I started as a volunteer.

                Mike -- we did see a rattler and a couple of king snakes. Always keeps you alert as you hike around. I do my share of eating, so seldom miss out -- especially on dessert.

                Martzy -- The fish seem to be doing well. Many of the fish we caught were from the spawn this spring. All age/size groups were represented in the catch (even though the catch was lower than normal due to the turbid water).
                Mtnman Jim

                taking life as it comes and trying to make the best of it

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                • #9
                  that's pretty cool to know someone who could get me on that volunteer list...
                  it would be a one of a kind vacation that's for sure...

                  thanks Jim for the report and picrtures, I always enjoy seeing them...

                  Trout
                  Hawk G-4 Jetcraft
                  Fish are food, not friends!

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                  • #10
                    Thanks for the offer, if only i can go there for sure i will.
                    i do like nature, and photography is, or used to be my main business, now is scrolling. anyway, i like to take photos of fish as well, sadly here in my country the use of pesticides as a way of fishing(dont even ask me) is killing most of the fish, or at least the ones that we used to fish for food(Agonostomus monticola)

                    Here is one "Gobio"(Sicydium punctatum)i caught with my camera, sometime ago. this is the only species left there, and this has no commercial value here, so far, that's why you can still see some of them.



                    And thanks for the offer, i wish i could go there.

                    Nayo
                    Last edited by nayo; 09-26-2011, 06:06 PM.

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                    • #11
                      What's causing them to be endangered? I'm sure it's human impact is it damming, overfishing, polluting, etc?
                      Keith

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                      • #12
                        Nayo -- Sorry to hear about the fish in Honduras. That is a nice fish pic you have. You and your camera would love it in the big ditch. Sure would like to take you there.

                        Martzy -- Most of the native fish in AZ are endangered -- and all of the big river fish are. The dams have totally changed the nature of the Colorado River. It now runs clear & cold, as the dams settle out all the sediment. Before dams, it ran big, cold, & muddy in the spring as the snow melt fed it. And by the end of summer, it was a trickle and was quite warm.

                        One endangered species (The Colorado River Pikeminnow) moved freely from the Gulf of California to Colorado & Wyoming. Now that route is blocked by at least 8 dams.

                        Also, the introduction of a vast number of species compete for the limited food (depleted in the clear water) and many eat the natives. This list includes catfish, rainbow trout, brown trout, black bullhead, carp, large mouth & small mouth bass, & stripers.

                        Overall, Arizona has lost over 90% of its riparian habitat.
                        Mtnman Jim

                        taking life as it comes and trying to make the best of it

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                        • #13
                          Wow. I was just talking about endangered species and the like today in class. For that forty minutes I have their attention and seem to get through. By the next day, it's all been lost. We are such an instant gratification society that we don't take the time to see the consequences of our actions.
                          Keith

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                          • #14
                            WOW, Jim, your reports are great. I think your job is very interesting. I love the outdoors. When you finally get out of that murky water, who scrapes the mud off you? HA. Thanks for the interesting reading & pic's. Enjoy your expeditions & keep them coming.
                            PERK

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                            • #15
                              Preciate the photos.Some interesting work you do and a service to the environment.
                              Tony

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