Category Archives: Young of the Year

Day 1 of Operation Wild Brook Trout

Over the next three days, we are catching, radio-tagging and releasing wild brook trout living in Shu Swamp. The plan is to compare their movements and habitat preferences to the hatchery-reared brook trout. The tags we are using can last 5 – 6 months so we may even see evidence of spawning if we are really lucky. Over the summer we hope to tag and release 10 wild trout. We just received our first batch of 5 tags and today we set out to catch 5 wild trout to take back to the Hofstra Animal Lab for a short stay: swim performance tests, tagging and then release, all within the next 48 hours. Sounds like a fun weekend at the health spa doesn’t it?

Maryanne, Brian, and I met up with Steve DeSimone, CSHFH director and operator of the backpack electrofisher you see here.

We immediately startied catching fish. The problem was they were the hatchery fish we released last month. We knew because we checked them with our portable PIT-tag reader which allowed us to identify each individual. All in all we caught and released six of the 28 we had released. Three of these had been detected before at the PIT-tag antenna downstream at the railroad bridge entering Beaver Lake, and one had been detected at the spillway antenna a mile away just 5 days ago!

Fortunately things started to pick up. All in all we managed to catch 4 wild trout, one short of our goal, before we ran out of stream to fish (we reached Frost Mill Road Dam). Three  of the trout had PIT-tags attached at the previous electrofishing event back in early March and one was newbie.

Along the way we also caught some other critters including some spiny-cheeked crayfish:

And a few YOY brook trout including this beauty (be sure to compare its size to the one shown at the March survey link.

YOYAs usual there were some beautiful wildflowers in bloom. Anybody know what this is?

We lso had a surprise visit from about 30 students from Pasadena Elementary School in Plainview who were there to release the fingerlings they had raised through the TITC program. They got to see the brook trout we had caught as well as the crayfish featured above. The adults we had caught might very well have had their origin a few years ago in a Long Island TITC classroom maybe even their own! I think they were really excited to think that maybe their “babies” might one day reach adulthood in its native habitat.  As part of the TITC experience, participating classrooms visit CSHFH in November to learn about brook trout and see the egg fertilization process. Their visit was featured on Long Island News .

The four “keepers” were transported in coolers and now reside in the animal facility at Hofstra. Here is one that is about 10″ and a 1/2 pound:

Wild trout back at lab

Tomorrow they all go for a swim and a quick surgical procedure. Stay tuned!

Swimming with the Fishes: Video of Brook Trout Fingerlings in Beaver Brook Tributary

I was finishing up taking photos of three reaches that LITU surveyed last Sunday and at one of them I came across a small group of 4 or so fingerlings hanging out under an undercut bank in a reach we sampled: SW Branch #1 (You can see its location and characteristics at this link). Most of the reach is very shallow (maybe a couple of inches) except for this one spot scouring into the bank which is about 6-8 inches. I had my GoPro camera with me so I took some video.


Location of GoPro camera. Black rod in middle of impage is 2.5 foot handle attached to camera.

This section of the reach is no more than 6 foot wide. The undercut is at the apex of a bend. To the right you can see a sand bar. There is a step drop off after that as the water scours out the bank. Look for these features in this three minute video.

I don’t know whether this is offspring of resident trout or Trout-in-the-Classroom releases. The site of TITC releases is just downstream from this spot and the last release was only about two weeks ago. Either way these guys are looking good!

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.

Latest Electrofishing Survey at Shu Swamp

Steve operating the electrofishing equipment

Steve operating the electrofishing equipment

On Tuesday, March 11, we conducted an electrofishing survey of Beaver Brook. Steve DeSimone of CSHFH operated the backpacker, Heidi O’Riordan and Bob O’Connell of NYSDEC collected data, Maryanne Grey, Brian Bartlett (my Hofstra U grad students), and John Fischer (LITU) took on the netting responsibilities, while I helped with PIT-tagging captured brook trout.

Our biggest find was the collection of two YOY brook trout, each about 2 cm length. These guys were probably about 3 weeks old. Last year we didn’t detect brook trout during the electrofishing survey which occurred the first week of March. Our first observation of YOY last year was 3/11/2013 so that’s pretty close to the same time as this year. At any rate YOY have become a pretty regular happening at Shu Swamp.

Our first Young of the Year!

Our first Young of the Year!

We also caught 18 one year or older trout (last year we caught 19). For the first time we PIT-tagged wild trout before release. Now we will be able to see if there are any differences in their movements downstream. We also mapped the position of all captures. The online map will be updated to include these positions.

A yearling brook trout captured in our survey.

A yearling brook trout captured in our survey.

None of these fish had PIT-tagged. This was the same result we got last year. The 230+ hatchery fish we have PIT-tagged and released thus far have simply vanished!

Heat of swamp cabbage melted the snow in its vicinity.

Heat of swamp cabbage melted the snow in its vicinity.

Find the Brookie in the Picture

Yesderday I uploaded data from our seven temperature data loggers. Two of the loggers are located under undercut banks in the small tributaries leading into the brook. In both places I saw lots of fingerlings. There is a 3 or 4 inch fingerling peaking out from under a tree branch in the first photo. Water depth is only 3 inches. Can you spot it? The second photo shows the undercut bank where I saw about five fingerlings.  The water temperature was 13 C (55 F) while the main brook temperature was 2 degrees warmer.

Young of the Year are everywhere at Shu Swamp

Between the old concrete bridge and the upstream pedestrian footbridge, a distance of about a 500 meters, I saw 15 young of the year. They were pretty much anywhere I looked along the banks in shallow slow-moving water, especially if there were sticks and debris available to hide in. Here is a video (look toward the top third in middle and you will see what looks at first like a leaf waving back and forth in the stream).

Water depths in these spots is about an inch or so.

More fingerling brook trout

We went to Beaver Brook to collect some water critters for a presentation I will be doing on Adopt-A-Trout for Debra Waage’s 2nd grade class at J.V. Forrestal Elementary School in Beacon, NY. We managed to collect a bunch of scuds, a diving beetle, and a water strider. We also saw four YOY Here are two that we managed to netfingerlings_3_17_13As you can they are about 1 inch. We found them right next to the foot bridge over the NW branch feeding into Beaver Brook (this is upstream from the concrete bridge). They were in about 1 inch of water, mostly resting on the bottom but occasionally swimming in place. What was really interesting was what we found on the sandy bank right next to them:

The blue heron is a notorious predator of trout so this gives you an idea of what our little brook trout face after they hatch and why it so important for them to find good hiding places.

Later we went to the pond and saw another sign of Spring, the return of the carp from Beaver Lake. Here is one of four we saw circling the boardwalk.CarpWe haven’t seen any largemouth bass or yellow perch in this area yet but it won’t be long if the weather warms up.


Young of the Year at Beaver Brook!! (UPDATED)

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Here are some pictures of YOY that Maryanne took while at Beaver Brook today. Just last week we electrofished here and found nothing so I guess they must have just emerged from the gravel in the last few days. YOY have now been documented in Beaver Brook in 2008, 2009, and 2013. There were no surveys from 2010-2012.

UPDATE: Maryanne saw 7 YOY just upstream of the concrete bridge.