Monthly Archives: April 2014

Famous Brook Trout Rivers on Long Island

I came across a nice article by John Field that appeared recently in Fly Fisherman magazine, “Long Island Fly Fishing Triangle”, on the three most “trout-fishable” rivers on Long Island: Carmans, Nissequogue, and Connetquot. All three of these rivers host wild Brookies as well as stocked Brookies, Browns, and Rainbows.

I particularly liked the article’s emphasis on the environmental and management issues specific to each of the three rivers including dams, disease, pollutant run-off. Despite these insults, wild brook trout populations still soldier thanks in part to the diligent efforts of Long Island Trout Unlimited, Art Flick Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Long Island Fly Rodders, and the Sea-Run Brook Trout Coalition.

Want to Survey a Stream?

Long Island Trout Unlimited will be surveying Beaver Brook in Shu Swamp Nature Preserve on May 4 from 9 – 12. The survey involves a certified procedure called a Stream Visual Assessment Protocol. Briefly, sections of a stream are rated for water quality, invertebrate quality, attractiveness to fish, and hydrological characteristics. A higher rating is indicative of a stream attractive to trout and other fish species.


If you want to join in you can contact me and I will give directions and answer your questions:

Newsday Article on Trout in the Classroom in Longwood School District

An article about TITC in Longwood School District was published yesterday in Newsday:

Trout Release a Rite of Spring in Longwood Schools

I have just started corresponding with the teachers involved in TITC in this district. As the article mentions, they hope to get involved in radiotagging brook trout for release in Peconic River if they can get some funds for tags.  I have offered to help with surgery, equipment, and training.

You know it’s Spring at Shu Swamp when…


the skunk cabbage is stinking,


the trout lilies are emerging,


the marsh marigolds are blooming,


and the Canada geese are nesting in trees. Huh?

That’s an osprey nest about 20-30 feet up a tree on an island in the middle of Upper Francis Pond. The arrow is pointing to a Canada Goose. Sorry for the image quality but I took this with my camera phone quite a distance away. The same thing happened last spring! There have been ospreys interested in this nest but then this goose shows up and the ospreys seem to disappear. How does a goose even manage to land in tree nest?

Bay Shore High School TITC Trout Release

Last Friday Bay Shore High School students in Denise Kaplar’s and Kami Horsley’s classes released into Beaver Brook the brook trout they had raised from eggs to fingerlings. They started with 300 eggs from the Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery. The 4 fingerlings ranged in size from 36 to 54 mm and .3 to 1.2 grams. This video is an underwater view of the release.

I think the students had a great time. For one thing they got out of the classroom on a beautiful early spring day. And of course they got to see what brook trout habitat is actually like. John Fischer of LITU had the students take some kick net samples. There were plenty of scuds but also quite a few caddisfly larvae too.

Caddisfly larvae on left (partially hidden by debris)  and two scuds on right.

Caddisfly larvae on left (partially hidden by debris) and two scuds on right.

I also saw an adult brook lamprey about 8″ swimming upstream. Presumably this is the time of year they spawn. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture but here is a picture of a juvenile (called an ammocoete we caught electrofishing last year.


Lamprey are jawless fish – the Bay Shore students actually knew this as well as their phylum (Agnatha). The juvenile is a filter feeder while the adult brook lamprey is nonfeeding unlike the more more well known parasitic sea lamprey (USGS fact sheet). The adult just exists to reproduce.

A Dysfunctional Chain of Being: Swans, Canada Geese, Snapping Turtles and Raccoons

Since I have been coming to Shu Swamp on a regular basis, there has been a pair of swans that has nested at the pond just south of the entrance into Beaver Lake. As far as I know they have probably nested here for many seasons before. Swans are not native to North America and are noted for their aggressive behavior towards other birds and destruction of vegetation beds in water bodies. You may know about the controversy concerning efforts by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to remove swans from New York. Other states have taken this step but New York hasn’t thus far. Just this spring the most recent proposal to extirpate swans was shot down due to public outcry and subsequent pressure on politicians.

The video gives you an idea of the aggression of swans during their nesting season. Here the male swan is attempting to drive away a pair of Canada geese who are also attempting to nest. While Canada geese are native they don’t normally nest this far south, at least not until the last few decades. Now it’s commonplace.

Since I have been watching these swans they seem to manage to hatch 6 or 7 cygnets. Many times I have seen the mom and dad proudly parade their cygnets from pond to lake and back. But what I have also noticed is that as the summer wears on there are fewer and fewer cygnets until, inevitably it seems, mom and dad are all alone. And its not because the cygnets have fledged. No, they have been eaten by the gigantic snapping turtles lurking beneath the surface. So the snapping turtles seem to be doing the same job NYSDEC would like to do; without a permit of course. As an added bonus snapping turtles are truely native!

However, the last laugh doesn’t belong to the turtle. Instead it belongs to the raccoon whose numbers in recent years have taken off. They just love people, well actually people garbage, and they have no predators. They also love reptile eggs. The banks of Shu Swamp are littered with the egg shell remains of plundered turtle nests. I doubt those snapping turtles are any better off as parents then the swans.

So what we have here is one heck of dysfunctional food chain. All of these animals are interacting in bizarre and unanticipated ways with the one common denominator being us and our various influences on the environment, whether it be introduction of animals we deem attractive (swan) or providing lots of food (raccoons and geese).