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Invasive Species New Zealand Mud Snail

Invasive Species

INVASIVE SPECIES AND THEIR IMPACT UPON AQUATIC HABITATS

Invasive Species

Invasive Species the New Zealand Mud Snail

There are numerous threats to our aquatic ecosystems that will have lasting impacts upon our Great Lakes fisheries.  Water pollution/sedimentation, habitat loss/degradation, connectivity, and the list of examples goes on and on.  Invasive Species introductions is a topic that usually doesn’t get immediate attention until it’s too late.  The intentional or accidental introduction of Invasive Species can have irreversible consequences upon our ecosystems.  These invaders are often responsible for lost species diversity and altering food web dynamics within new habitats.

If left unchecked, the consequences are often disastrous to ecosystem functionality.  The ensuing affects often result in dire consequences that can’t be fully understood until its too late.  This demonstrates the importance of early detection and forward thinking approaches to minimize future introductions and spread.  Most Invasive Species tend to be undetectable in low population densities, by the time the are discovered its usually too late.

Human Travel

In today’s world, people have the ability to travel to just about every corner of the globe.  Sometimes a hitchhiker can find its way into new habitats.  Albeit most of these introductions have been unintentional into our aquatic communities.  However, there are some serious repercussions associated with these introductions.  The aquatic invaders usually remain unchecked by natural control mechanisms and proliferate quickly as a result.  The lack of natural predators usually favors the Invasive Species with a competitive advantage over time.

Predicting the outcomes of Invasive Species introductions is very difficult.  In most cases there are cascading effects that ripple through affected ecosystems.  As invasive populations grow, ecosystem sustainability is often lost or greatly impaired leading to reduced Native Species diversity.  For the Great Lakes region this will ultimately result in reduced numbers of highly desirable game species.

Great Lakes

The Great Lakes region has a growing number of Invasive Species concerns. Some notable examples would be the Sea Lamprey, Alewife, Spiny Water Flea, Zebra Mussels, Quaga Mussels, New Zealand Mud Snail, and now Didymo.  All of these examples have consequences that go well beyond the physical parameters of water quality.  The end result could have severe impacts upon the Trophic structure of our aquatic communities.

The Sea Lamprey almost wiped out the Lake Trout Populations thru uncontrolled predation. Alewife and Spiny Water Fleas had direct and indirect impacts upon Native Zooplankton populations and Juvenile Fish Survival.  Zebra and Quaga mussels have changed the Trophic cascades in the Great Lakes from the bottom up through decreased nutrient loads, clear/warming waters, increased Algal blooms, and reduced Salmonid populations.  Simply put these ripple effects have directly impacted the Economical value of our Recreational Sport Fishery.

New Zealand Mud Snail

One of the newest Invasive Species that is currently spreading throughout the Great Lakes Region is the New Zealand Mud Snail.  The effects of this new invader are not yet fully understood.  Researchers believe this invader will have adverse effects upon native snail species diversity by outcompeting native snails for food and space.  Concerns have also been raised regarding how the New Zealand Mud Snail may effect primary production stream ecosystems.  This will more than likely have dire consequences for macro-invertebrate communities and ultimately stream fish populations.  In a trout stream this could be detrimental.  As aquatic insect populations decrease, so will trout abundance in the affected streams.  The New Zealand Mud Snail can clone itself! It only takes one female hitchhiker to start a colony.  They are usually transported between aquatic habitats via anglers, recreational boaters, and other water-based recreational activities.

Didymo or Rock Snot

During the Fall of 2021, Didymo (or Rock Snot) is an Invasive Algae discovered blooming in the Upper Manistee River near Kalkaska, MI.  According to an MDNR press release,
this is the first known Didymo case in the Lower Peninsula.  The last Didymo bloom was documented in the St. Marys River near Sault St. Marie, MI in 2015.  Experts were shocked by the discovery as it indicates the spread may be greater than originally thought.  According to researchers, Didymo blooms form in low-nutrient cold-water streams.  Trout streams to be exact!

Similarly to the New Zealand Mud Snail, Didymo blooms can cover expansive stream-bed areas.  The blooms essentially suffocate macro-invertebrate habitat.  Long term impacts could lead to reduced aquatic invertebrate abundance, ultimately impacting trout populations over time.  Currently there are NO KNOWN MANAGEMENT solutions to eradicate Didymo so prevention is the only mitigation strategy available.  Like the New Zealand Mud Snail, Didymo is commonly spread by anglers, recreational boaters, and other water-based recreational activities.

What to do

I encourage everyone to take extra precautions throughout the upcoming season.  Throughly sanitize, wash, and dry your fishing gear and equipment after each use.  This will be very important to help prevent further spread, especially if you plan on fishing multiple watersheds over several days.  I would also encourage boat owners to invest in a separate anchor and rope for each river you fish. YOU CANNOT EFFECTIVELY CLEAN AN ANCHOR ROPE!  Whenever possible, you should avoid using anchors with complex surfaces such as stacked plates. These anchors are more likely to spread aquatic hitchhikers and require disassembly to properly clean.  A simple pyramid anchor is easier to clean without having to take it apart.

No matter what your preferred anchor choice is, I would encourage everyone to have one Anchor and one Rope designated to each watershed you fish.  The same would apply to the wade angler, a separate pair of boots or waders per stream would be the preferred option.  If you would like more information regarding Didymo, New Zealand Mud Snail, check out NZMS Collaborative.  Join the fight, end the spread, and get informed.

Tight Lines,

Ed

Mangled Fly Stickers

Nervous Net Job

Not too often a trout makes me nervous when I’m in charge of the net, but a new PR on a Michigan Brook Trout.

drier dry flies

Drier Dry Flies

Did a video on the Hawkins YouTube channel about a trick I learned a few years ago from angler Larry Webb.  Had to share this simple trick to keep your dry flies floating longer.  Thank you Larry for the helpful tip, has really saved my spinner patterns from an early grave.  Check out the video if you enjoy throwing around the dry fly this time of year.

Patagonia Fly Fish – Pic of the Day

I’m honored to have Patagonia Flyfishing post an image on their Instagram account  , thank you Larry and Paul for letting me take a minute and play as we floated a Michigan trout stream this fall.

Be on your way now, see you again! Photo @mangledfly @patagonia @patagoniaprovisions

A photo posted by Patagonia Fly Fish (@patagonia_flyfish) on

Great Speckled Olive caught in a Web

Siphloplecton basale Spinner other wise known for me as the Great Speckled Olive caught in a spiders web.  When you see this guy you know Sulhur’s are on the menu in a day or two.  Hatches are moving forward and temps are really improving.  Couple prime open dates in the first part of June.  June 6,7,9  shoot me an email or a text message if your interested.

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Pic of the Day – San Juan Worm

Had to get down and dirty on the Upper Manistee, with a slower than normal couple days of trout fishing.  Had to bust out all the tricks.  Have honestly not thrown the worm, the san juan worm, since my Colorado days some 15 years ago.  Used to fish the worm on the Upper Colorado River on my days off.

Bobber Down!

 Getting down and dirty with a worm imitation on the upper manistee.

Picture of the Day – Fall Brown Trout

Kean O. with a great October brown trout from the Upper Manistee.

Kean O. with a great fall brown trout in epic colors.  Great day on the river yesterday, seeing the old trout water one more time before old man winter locks her in.  Streamer fishing was pretty consistent, while not too many would actually put the streamer in there mouth, plenty came out and played with it.  Great job Kean getting the couple when you had the chance.

Picture of the Day- Summer Foam

Chuck Hawkins with a nice brown trout caught on a green hopper pattern.  Have a feeling with the number of hoppers that I’m finding it’s going to get fun here for the day time runners.  Sight casting to rising trout using big piece of foam.

Terrestrial Time – Scott G2 886

Terrestrial fishing starts right after the Hex Hatch, July, August, and September are prime months for hoppers, beetles, crickets, and ants.  One of my favorite rods for big Terristrial patterns is the Scott G2 886
With the end of the Hex Hatch starts the beginning of  Hopper Time.  No more up-wing parachutes or layout spinners.  Yes we will still have BWO’s, Trico’s and the occasional Iyso.  But July, August and September trout fishing for me, during the day light hours is match the Terrestrial.  Time to run the foam and rubber legs.

Matching the Terrestrial, just like Matching the Hatch, can change day to day.  For whatever reason trout can change focus from hoppers, to ants, to damsels, to crickets.  I really thinks it more of matching size and color.  Again just like matching the mayfly hatch, you need to figure out what fish want on a particular day.

With more free time in July than we have in June, have some goals for fly tying and photography work.  Hope to share more patterns and fish technique.  Again these are goals for the next couple months, so check back and we will see what I’ve come up with.

But in the mean time also wanted to share that ran a new rod just recently that is a new favorite for Terrestrial fishing the Scott G2 886.  With rods I truly believe that you need to cast or feel one before you buy.  But if your in your local fly shop pick this rod up, it has true hidden power and can turn over big foam, but in the same sense protect you when you need to drop down a tippet size.  A pleasure to cast and to fish with all day.  Check it out.  For those that enjoy the hopper dropper and need to turn over foam, but fish 5x on the dropper.