The Trout census was completed by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department along the upper section of the VT Cemetery Run project last week. This is a section that had been used for counts in past years, and they did a census there last year just before the project work so that there would be a baseline of comparison. The project work involved the installation of structures of wood and stone for cover and shelter and bank stabilization.
In 2016 there were three adult fish and a handful of the young of the year found.
Based on informal reporting from a participant, in 2017 there were 76 adult fish and 60 young of the year found. This is yet more confirmation that additional cover and shelter is the key habitat component for the trout fishery in the Batten Kill. Among the adult trout about five age classes were represented, and about 20 of the fish were over 10 inches.
This is an amazing return on the investment. Thank you to everyone who has supported this work. And remember, this is just the upstream section of the 2016 project -- there is the improved habitat downstream as well.
Clearly the adult trout are attracted to the improved habitat and now have a better chance to feed, to grow, and to survive with the cover and shelter. Since we have installed cover and shelter along about nine sections of the river in Arlington, this means the likelihood of a substantial improvement in the productivity of the fishery.
Lee Simard, the fisheries biologist of the VFWD, will have a full report on this fish census later -- this is just preliminary counts.
The process is that a crew goes along the river shocking it with electric wands. This temporarily stuns fish, which are gathered in nets and put in bins set into the water. (Sometimes trout over 20 inches just swim away -- they are not affected by the shock and don't get counted!) They are gathered in buckets and anesthetized, then measured and weighed. They are put in recovery buckets and then back into the boxes in the river. Then they are returned to the river.
Photos show the crew at work measuring and weighing and waiting to take trout back and forth. I got there too late to take pictures of the shocking itself, but you can see that in the previous article about Twin Rivers. Then there are pictures of trout being taken for their close up, a medium brown, the recovery bucket and box, and the return to the river.
Cynthia B. BKWA