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Old 05-14-2021, 11:50 AM   #1
salar4me
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Return to Tug Hill Streams of my youth...

Have been fishing the streams visited 50 years ago as a lad with my dad and brothers. Moved to Camden two years ago and bicycled around Redfield, Florence, etc. but wasn’t fishing local too much since the streams are now close and for some particular reason... have an odd tendency to want to fish far from home.

There must have been an extreme high water event in the somewhat recent past (Halloween storm last year?) since there is a huge amount of debris 150 yards from the streams - pictures don’t do it justice.


There are more camps and many more posted signs than I remember but the water still looks great. Can’t say I have been catching much and the fish have been small... but wild brookies, even if 3” long - will always make me smile
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Old 05-14-2021, 12:34 PM   #2
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I also grew up fishing at my dad's old homestead in Montague at the headwaters of the Deer River. Many new camps and posted land signs in that area too. My uncle now owns the land, although I have a small adjacent plot that was once part of my mother's family land where I separately try to maintain my dad's small hunting camp. Mostly I just shovel several feet of snow off the roof 2-3 times every winter by skiing in to it.

Too many ATVs in the summer and too many snowmobiles in the winter for me to enjoy being there much.

I keep saying to myself that I am going fishing again on my uncle's land where my dad and I used to fish and hunt quite often. Somehow though, other life factors keep getting in my way.
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Old 05-14-2021, 08:25 PM   #3
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I agree, for me and many others, atv’s and snowmobiles on Tug Hill have become more of a scourge than black flies and Lake Effect Snow.

As for the native Brook trout fishing, it is very much degraded from what it was like in the 1960’s. There are still brookies to be caught but the streams that used to be teeming with them only hold small populations today. I blame it on the beaver, building dam after dam, all the way to their headwaters, destroying the streams shade integrity and spawning areas, stagnating the water, resulting in higher water temps. In the 50’s and 60’s there were few beaver on the Plateau and you could drink the water from the streams.
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Old 05-15-2021, 06:52 AM   #4
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When my father grew up on Tug Hill, he said there were no or very few beavers. Take a look at the USGS topo maps (the latest is dated 1943) of the areea and you will see many free flowing streams with practically no impounndments. Hike there now and you will encounter so many beaver ponds that the topo map is practically useless. During a SAR incident of just a very few years ago, this became extremely evident to search teams and made for a very difficult time planning of efficient complete land coverage.
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Old 05-15-2021, 10:07 AM   #5
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I understand about the beavers - evidence of them even in the middle of town. The Mad River above Redfield was braided in about a hundred different ways due to their busy work. We once would catch 40 or so brook trout in the 6 - 12” range - keep just a few ... this was repeated about twice a year for a decade or so. This week, largest I caught was about 4”
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Old 05-16-2021, 05:42 PM   #6
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Beaver trapping usually means a lot of work from start to finish. Raw beaver pelts don't pay much now. Many of those beaver ponds are in remote areas and difficult to access. Unfortunately, it's not worth the effort for the reward
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Old 05-16-2021, 05:55 PM   #7
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You'd think the coyotes would keep them in check.
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Old 05-16-2021, 05:57 PM   #8
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Evidently beaver pelts were worth a lot more (relatively speaking) from Tug Hill prior to the early 1900's and were all trapped out before the USGS made their 1943 topo maps. As I said, my father growing up in that period told me there no beavers at the time. But the stream fishing was good as I remember up until the late 1960's.
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Old 05-16-2021, 07:58 PM   #9
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Don't get me wrong but I don't understand this beaver population thing being a detriment to the proliferation of the Brook Trout. School me if you are so inclined.
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Old 05-16-2021, 08:39 PM   #10
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It’s pretty simple, Brook Trout like most Salmonoids need cold, free flowing, streams with gravel bottoms to prosper. Beaver dam small tributaries, flooding the timberland killing the trees thus destroying the shade integrity. Also Forest soils tend to be acidic, so flooding the Forest leaches more acid into the water. Then as the colony grows, offspring move upstream or downstream or overland to another stream and continue the same process, until they have the whole watershed damed up to the headwaters. These impounded ponds become silted in so Brook Trout have nowhere to spawn. The Brook Trout May flourish in these ponds for a few years. But eventually the water becomes too warm and nowhere to spawn, the Brook Trout die off. When I was young in the 60’s I drank from most of these Brook Trout creeks, brooks and streams, not now.

As far as beaver population in NY, in 1903 there were only 2 known beaver colonies in the entire state of NY. And they were in the Town of Webb, Herkimer County. Beaver were reintroduced in many places around the state, Tug Hill Plateau is one area. I think they were turned loose somewhere around Swancotts Mills in the East Branch of Fish Creek watershed.
That was a big mistake as far as the native Brook Trout fishery is concerned.

With Beaver Castor glands prices at a all time high, coupled with the pelt value, trappers are targeting beaver again. Beaver are a rodent and breed like rodents. But there are few trappers and many view trapping as not being PC. Trappers provide a valuable free service to the public. Controlling the beaver population is just one example.

Bears, bobcats, coyotes do prey on beaver, but a beaver is not a push over if cornered on land. I’ve caught beaver over 60lbs., a 20 lb bobcat and a 35 lb coyote will have there work cut out for them tackling a healthy beaver on land.

It’s funny many know humans building dams destroyed much of the native Atlantic Salmon fisheries. But many of the same people think beaver dams do no harm, not true.
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Old 05-16-2021, 09:06 PM   #11
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When I was young in the 60’s I drank from most of these Brook Trout creeks, brooks and streams, not now.
I well remember going fishing and hunting with my father in the 60's where he would have several favored places in the woods where he would stop to grab a glass where it was stashed turned updside down on a branch and we'd have a nice cold drink of water.
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Old 05-16-2021, 09:41 PM   #12
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That's awesome Salar!!!
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Old 05-20-2021, 07:31 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tug Hill View Post
It’s pretty simple, Brook Trout like most Salmonoids need cold, free flowing, streams with gravel bottoms to prosper. Beaver dam small tributaries, flooding the timberland killing the trees thus destroying the shade integrity. Also Forest soils tend to be acidic, so flooding the Forest leaches more acid into the water. Then as the colony grows, offspring move upstream or downstream or overland to another stream and continue the same process, until they have the whole watershed damed up to the headwaters. These impounded ponds become silted in so Brook Trout have nowhere to spawn. The Brook Trout May flourish in these ponds for a few years. But eventually the water becomes too warm and nowhere to spawn, the Brook Trout die off. When I was young in the 60’s I drank from most of these Brook Trout creeks, brooks and streams, not now.

As far as beaver population in NY, in 1903 there were only 2 known beaver colonies in the entire state of NY. And they were in the Town of Webb, Herkimer County. Beaver were reintroduced in many places around the state, Tug Hill Plateau is one area. I think they were turned loose somewhere around Swancotts Mills in the East Branch of Fish Creek watershed.
That was a big mistake as far as the native Brook Trout fishery is concerned.

With Beaver Castor glands prices at a all time high, coupled with the pelt value, trappers are targeting beaver again. Beaver are a rodent and breed like rodents. But there are few trappers and many view trapping as not being PC. Trappers provide a valuable free service to the public. Controlling the beaver population is just one example.

Bears, bobcats, coyotes do prey on beaver, but a beaver is not a push over if cornered on land. I’ve caught beaver over 60lbs., a 20 lb bobcat and a 35 lb coyote will have there work cut out for them tackling a healthy beaver on land.

It’s funny many know humans building dams destroyed much of the native Atlantic Salmon fisheries. But many of the same people think beaver dams do no harm, not true.
Thanks for the explanation. Can you surmise the situation pre-European contact? More apex predators perhaps?
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Old 05-20-2021, 07:39 PM   #14
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Thanks for the explanation. Can you surmise the situation pre-European contact? More apex predators perhaps?

Yep.
Wolves easily maintained the beaver population, helping to balance the whole system right down to the fish and more.
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Old 05-22-2021, 09:34 PM   #15
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Yep.
Wolves easily maintained the beaver population, helping to balance the whole system right down to the fish and more.
Exploitation of the beaver for their pelts was part of the reason France and Great Britain fought for control of the NA continent.
So if the wolves easily maintained the beaver population, why was there so many beaver here when the Europeans arrived ?

Wolves also could not control the American bison population.
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Old 05-22-2021, 10:21 PM   #16
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Exploitation of the beaver for their pelts was part of the reason France and Great Britain fought for control of the NA continent.
So if the wolves easily maintained the beaver population, why was there so many beaver here when the Europeans arrived ?

Wolves also could not control the American bison population.
Very little land was developed though, so a large population of beaver could have been spread over a large area. Due to lack of predation and habitat loss, they will be forced to certain areas.

The question is... what is the ideal beaver density? Who knows? If your only concern is fish populations, then perhaps it's zero... but we know that wasn't the case as we know streams and lakes in the Adirondacks had brook trout pre-European settlement.

When you ask these questions you have to take away your concern for the fish. Perhaps it just happened by eradicating beaver i.e. overtrapping that something you view as a positive occurred but that doesn't really tell us what a proper functioning ecosystem looks like. And I'd have to guess there's a wide range of what we could define as a healthy function.

It's quite possible what you are experiencing, and somehow basing quality on, is a reversal of that system back to a previous, pre-Euro state. Without predation, the population could have negative impacts other places, or it could just grow and be limited by food supply and disease. If another species cannot adapt to those changes it will be phased out. We know brook trout were not phased out pre-Euro so either there's a big piece we are missing or the system will stabilize if beaver population is predated to pre-Euro levels... whatever that is... but you seem to assume it's high. But probably it's more related to the density of beavers, and thus our available habitat right now and how and if we think we should intervene. I'd guess the interaction of the coyotes will help to limit them even if adult beavers are hard to kill. When we talk about pack dogs we rarely see them taking on healthy adults of whatever they predate.

I don't think we actually have great data on Bison. Native American tribes were "herding" them long before we really had any good history on what was going on without human interaction. The archeological data exists of Bison drives and corralling. Regardless of that, Bison are also much, much larger than a wolf. Much more disproportionate than beaver. Although Bison are predated by wolves, I'm not sure I would think they'd be as successful hunting compared to elk, deer or other small prey where available.
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Old 05-23-2021, 04:50 PM   #17
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Heritage Brook Trout on Tug Hill:

https://www.nny360.com/artsandlife/l...959496d6c.html
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Old 05-23-2021, 06:44 PM   #18
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I guess if beaver destroying the water quality is part of a proper functioning ecosystem, then I stand corrected ?
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Old 05-23-2021, 07:36 PM   #19
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I guess if beaver destroying the water quality is part of a proper functioning ecosystem, then I stand corrected ?
Not to get in a big thing TH, but the beaver were here before us, were they not?

I know a lot of people consider them a pest these days in various ways i.e. ruining water quality, flooding arable land, apparently hurting fisheries (this one is new to me), blah, blah... but you stated yourself the beaver were a significant part of the systems before Europeans, so should they not be now?
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Old 05-23-2021, 10:50 PM   #20
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I could see how one would think that beaver dams reduce water quality and negativly impact trout and they might.

Without a lot of study one could not make a conclusion about beavers impact on water quality. Beaver dams store up a lot of water that would otherwise drain out of the environment. This stored water could have a great impact on the water table. Multiply this impact by 20,000 and the water table of the whole Adirondacks could be changed. I would imagine that the dams moderate the spring flooding. Spring flooding includes snow melt which contains a lot of those acid rain chemicals. The ponds also release the accumulated water throughout the summer.

I am just talking out of my butt really. But adding in a whole lot of beavers could have a great impact in ways one could not easily appreciate.
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