Calling all Kiap-TU-Wish Members! We need Silent Auction items for our chapter’s Annual Online Fundraiser, which will be ending February 18th. This is our biggest fundraiser of the year and raises over half of the funds needed for our chapter’s Trout-in-the-Classroom, Stream Monitoring and Habitat Restoration Projects.
*** No Books or Bulky Items. Please! *** (they are hard to ship)
Ideas of items that are easier to ship would be:
Tickets to Sporting or Cultural Events (Yes, some trout fishers are interested in cultural events.)
Gift Cards (Think of the possibilities!)
Smaller items, like jewelry, craft items, maps to secret fishing spots …
Lightly used fly rods, reels and other fishing gear.
Guided trips and experiences (Fishing, Hunting, Mushrooming or other Foraging) …
Dinner parties, Panfishing on a Pontoon for a family, Sunset boat rides for a couple, Be creative …
*** Drop off donated Silent Auction items at Mend Provisions Fly Shop, Lund’s Fly Shop, or at a chapter meeting preferably by January, 2024! If dropping off at Mend or Lund’s, please include a name and contact info – we want to thank you!***
An assessment of Elevated Riparian Optimization (ERO) structures on the South Fork of the Kinni, Hay Creek, and Cady Creek, 5-years post installation
By Loren Haas
Hungry water is copious amounts of water not heavily laden with silt which provides extra energy and carrying capacity for sand and silt. Typically occurring in the spring, frozen soil helps minimize runoff erosion. Heavy snow accumulation and a late thaw made for one of the best spring scouring events in recent years.
Flooding on the South Fork of the Kinni this spring has flushed out the sand below each of the EROs. Last year’s partial deposition is gone and the deep holes are looking much deeper and longer than ever. All of the EROs except one produced fish. One ERO that has a flat rock wedged in between the anchor rocks provides narrowing high velocity and redirected water and has accidentally produced my favorite spot on the creek to catch fish.
Additionally, 3 more lunker structures have been partially exposed for the first time in many years. One is below an ERO, the others are upstream of the other 9 EROs. I expect this condition to be temporary as summer rains bring more sediment from upstream and rebury them. We will see. Pocket water sixteen inches deep or more has reappeared upstream of the EROs. It is still impossible to cast due to all the willows, but If you were to drop a fly into the pockets there are fish holding in the deeper areas.
There are large sections of prairie that are apparently free of any willows! Some areas contain willows on one side of the creek while the other sections are totally infested with willows. Unfortunately, the areas closest to the creek still have a major willow problem.
Hay creek has 4 of the 5 Eros still producing deep enough water to hold trout. Only the #1 structure closest to the bridge is deep enough to hold nice sized fish. Two of the previous deep corners that held fish have filled in with sand and are devoid of fish. Pocket water does exist between the EROs but it lacks adequate depth or cover and seems to lack fish. Perhaps additional efforts such as adding a rocky substrate and additional structures could lead to more bank stabilization and subsequent undercuts that may attract trout.
Cady creek, what a gem. While some areas still remain dominated by sand, many areas have flushed clean and provide pocket water up to 45 inches deep. From the snowmobile bridge upstream, the #1 ERO is still plagued by rock washed into the downstream side of the ERO. It won’t provide deep water until the rock is removed. We did remove the rock upstream last fall which allowed scouring to occur and the ERO went from 85% full to 50% full under normal water levels. With that said, there is deep water and trout in the bend due to natural snags and rock causing the water to rise over and cut deep water below the snags. The #2 ERO provided stable 4 feet deep water 55 feet downstream. That number has increased by 5 to 10 feet, but this might be temporary. The #3 ERO deep hole is HUGE! Over my waders and maybe over my head with an additional 10 feet of length of 3-foot-deep water added. In a previous report I stated, this is the strongest and best ERO ever built, but wow I was shocked. Too many spooked trout to count.
I visited Halverson horse ranch to check on the scouring. It’s amazing and far better than after it was just finished. Enough said.
From my perspective the ERO’s constructed over the last 5 years have done a good job of creating deep runs. These deep runs provide habitat and cover for mature fish and are an important component of a healthy fishery.
ERO Structures Number and Location:
Hay Creek, 5
Plum Creek, 2, uninspected this year
South Fork Kinni, 9
Cady Creek, 3
Trimbelle Halverson easement, 2, uninspected this year
Trimbelle Thom easement, 1 or maybe 2, uninspected this year
Gilbert Creek in Dunn County, 10 or more and still being built
Loren Notes that the construction of ERO structures by the Wisconsin DNR is a “very good sign of things to come.”
Greenwood Elementary Service Day 2023: Randy Arnold
What started back in October of last year with six workdays of volunteers cutting buckthorn, honeysuckle, and box elders at a site on Quarry Rd, wrapped up last Friday when 75 students, 15 parent volunteers and the teaching staff of those 3rd graders at Greenwood Elementary School in River Falls showed up at 9:30 in the morning. Their aim was to drag all of the slash from those workdays and place it on three bonfires that had been started about 30 minutes before their arrival.
The volunteers present helping to start the fires and watch over the kids to maintain safety were Jim Tatzel, Dave Gregg, Tom Anderson, David Brockway, Tom Schnadt, Pat Sexton, Dave Kozlovsky and myself. Soon two busloads of students arrived. I gave a brief talk to the Greenwood entourage about safety precautions we asked them to follow.
Half of the students returned to the bus and headed further upstream for a nature walk led by one of their teachers while the other half put on safety glasses and began hauling brush to the two bonfires. I had a gas driven water pump ready as a safety precaution and, on several occasions, I did fire up the pump and pour a little water on one of the bonfires to keep the flames from getting too high. The weather on the days leading up to the event could not have been better, with several days of rain and below average temperatures keeping the fire danger relatively low. This event had been originally scheduled for back in December and then again in early January but was postponed due to bitterly cold temps and a following blizzard. After an hour of moving brush to the bonfires, kids who had been on the nature walk returned and switched places with their classmates. A third bonfire was started just prior to the changeover and, the second wave of kids made short work of the brush which remained.
This is the third time that this event has been held. Chapter member and Greenwood 3rd grade teacher Steve Papp was the driving force behind the creation of this event and the 3rd graders at his school are also participants in the TIC program. This event provides a wonderful opportunity for the kids to connect with and realize how a healthy stream corridor is so important to the survival of trout. In past years Kasey Yallaly and Marty Engel have assisted by leading the kids on the nature walk portion. Both were unavailable this year so the teaching staff took it upon themselves to fill that void. Thank you to all who participated and I look forward to many more years of this very successful program.
The Kiap-TU-Wish “work season” aligns with our fiscal year which spans April 1st to March 31st. Our work consisted of tree planting, seeding/mulching, stream shocking, and tree and brush removal. Additional tasks for which I recorded volunteer hours included installation of bluebird nest boxes, opening and cleaning them in the fall, and closing them up again in the spring. Time spent watering trees and shrubs that were planted on the new Cady Creek restoration was also logged. A total of 31 volunteer workdays this past year consisted of, 25 brush/tree removal days, 3 seeding/mulching days, 2 stream shocking days, and 1 day dedicated to tree planting. As you might imagine, the bulk of our time was spent removing trees and brush from stream corridors and accounted for just over 1,400 of the total 1,573 habitat volunteer hours.
Total habitat volunteer hours are down from several years ago when totals reached or exceeded 3,000 hours. My biggest disappointment as our volunteer coordinator is the low turnout for brush and tree removal workdays. Of the 283 individuals who are currently on the MailChimp list for receiving workday notices, only 56 turned out at any one time over the season to help with our work.
Our clearing operations began in October at the close of the inland fishing season. We cleared box elders, buckthorn, and honeysuckle from the Quarry Road site just upstream of the Hwy 35 bridge and had plans to involve the Greenwood Elementary 3rd graders as a part of their service learning project by providing an opportunity to help burn all of the slash. A blizzard on the scheduled burn day resulted in deep snow cover which lasted throughout the winter and forced us to postpone the event until April 21st of this year.
Starting in early December, we moved our workdays to Cady Creek and at the direction of Kasey Yallaly (WDNR) began clearing box elders and other invasives from the stream corridor between the upper two parking lots on 50th Street. This will help facilitate periodic mowing and allow for easier stream access. Between December 2022 and March 2023, we spent 17 days at this site logging in over 1,100 hours during that period. This particular stretch of Cady had undergone streambank restoration back in the late 1990s and some of the box elder trees along that stretch had trunks over 20” in diameter plus we cleared and removed a number of trees that had fallen into the creek.
I would like to recognize the efforts of a number of volunteers who turned out time and time again to help with the workdays, these include: John Skelton 21 workdays, Dave Gregg 18 workdays, Jim Tatzel 17 workdays, Loren Haas and Trish Hannah 13 workdays, Jeff Dahl 11 workdays, Jim Sackrison 8 workdays, James Patterson and Steve Cox 7 workdays, Matt Janquart and Greg Olson 6 workdays, and John Kaplan, Ted Higman, Don Fritz, Dave Kozlovsky and Jeff Himes 5 workdays. I dare say that most of those listed above have more than a few grey hairs on their heads and I hope that in looking to future projects an influx of youth would certainly enhance our habitat efforts.
Box elders, buckthorn and honeysuckle are growing on our easements faster than we can cut them down. The WDNR no longer has the funds or manpower to handle any of this work and it depends on our chapter to step up to the plate each year to do what we can to keep the easements and restorations within our chapter area from becoming overgrown and unfishable.
I took on the job of volunteer coordinator some 12-15 years ago when I was still in my 50’s and my body was easily up to the task. Despite turning 70 in January, I still hope to continue leading workdays for another 10 years. I would, however, appreciate some more participation from more of the individuals who are listed in our pool of volunteers.
This fall we will continue to hold workdays throughout the brushing season from Oct. 15th when the fishing season closes, until such time in the spring when we can no longer burn the slash from the removed trees and brush. It’s my hope that we can return to earlier times when 25 or more volunteers turned out on a regular basis with occasional workdays consisting of 30 or more.
I intend to start a new volunteer list before the beginning of the next brushing season. The list will be called “Brushing Volunteers” and it is my hope that if you request to be on the list you will do so with the intent of participating in our workdays on a regular basis. Knowing that we have a committed list of volunteers is important when assessing the time and effort necessary for each project as I continue to work with Kasey and the Kiap-TU-Wish board to determine what future habitat projects.
Our first project of the field season was on Gilbert Creek in Dunn County. The project is located within Gilbert Creek Fisheries Area and on Gene Holte’s easement and is 1,300 feet in length. This project is in cooperation with the Clear Waters Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Dunn County Fish and Game Assn, and Dunn County. This project was a continuation of past 3 years of trout habitat projects along this section of Gilbert Creek. Gilbert creek is a Brook trout reserve stream that has had numerous habitat projects completed on it and this newly acquired easement will allow us to tie in many years of habitat work together. It is a highly visible section, just off HWY 29 which will allow the public to safely park off the busy Hwy in a 75×50 parking lot. Work started on 5/9/22 and project was complete on 5/24/22. We created 1 rock island, 3 spawning riffles, 98 root wads and used 3,025 tons of rock which comes out to 2.3 tons per stream foot.
Our second project of the year was on Sand Creek in northeast Dunn County. This is a highly visible project that enhanced habitat and access to the stream in the park of the town of Sand Creek. It is now a great spot for senior citizens and the youth to fish due to the location and access from a parking area with the potential of catching a trophy brown trout. We partnered with ClearWaters TU, and the Town of Sand Creek. Work started on 5/25/22 and project was complete on 6/15/22. Total distance is 650 feet. We installed 8 LUNKERS, 1 plunge pool, 5 riffles and 1 rock v weir and hauled in 440 tons of black dirt, used 1,325 tons of shot rock and 125 bales of straw. We removed all old, unstable and unsafe trees within the park and will plant more trees in the near future.
Our next project was on the Trimbelle River-Halvorson easement. This project was partnered with KiapTUwish Trout Unlimited. We completed 3,200 feet with potential for more stream footage downstream on the same landowner’s property/easement. Native species such as Ash, Oak and Maple will be left standing to provide some shade, but this site is a horse pasture with very short turf grass. The project started on 6/20/22 and we finished on 8/16/22. We installed 22 riffles, 41 root wads, created 5 islands, 5 back water refuges, 2 ERO’s, 5 rock v weirs and 1 cross log while also adding too many to count mid-stream boulders and boulder clusters. We used 7,500 tons of shot rock @ $7.98/ton which comes out to 2.34 tons per stream foot and 400 bales of straw @ $8.00/bale and 900 pounds of Orchard grass.
The final project of the field season took place on the headwaters of Gilbert creek, which is owned by the State. We completed 1,550 feet with 1,550 more feet to be finished next field season. We started 8/17/22 and we finished up for the year on 9/15/22. Thirty-six root wads, 3 ERO’s, 16 riffles and 3 backwater refuges were installed. This project site will make for great spawning areas for Brook trout once we are able to flush out the fine sediment and create more spawning riffles.
Volunteers Needed to Staff Youth Game Fair on Sept.10
For the past 6-7 years, our chapter has been participating in the Peasants Forever Youth Game Fair. Boys and girls ages 12-16 have the opportunity to tie a fly, get a lesson in fly casting and, they have the opportunity to catch a sunfish or bass in the lake at the club. The event goes from 9:00-3:00 pm. You don’t need to spend the entire day there but, if you can spend a few hours to help out mentoring kids down at the lake, helping to teach fly casting, helping a youth tie a foam panfish fly, or even man our booth to talk about the importance of the work our chapter does, your help would be appreciated. Currently we have 5 volunteers and could use another 4-5. Refreshments including coffee, soda and water are provided as well as a meal for all participants in the event. Please email Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help out at this event.