If you are following DRWTU here or through local media, you know we are embarking on a two year-long study of thirty radio-tagged brown trout in the Deerfield River. This collaboration already involves scores of volunteers from TU and partner conservation agencies, biologists from the USGS Silvio Conte Anadromous Fish Lab, and MA Fish and Wildlife. What should you do if you catch one of those radio-tagged trout?
Please gently and quickly unhook and release the trout back into the Deerfield. Then when you get within cell phone coverage, please call and report the catch to DRWTU President Mike Vito at 413-320-1521. You are going to want to report the catch to MA Fish and Wildlife using the link on our banner above.
What if you ‘take’ a tagged fish legally or find a dead fish with a radio tag? Well, we would hope you would forego taking a fish out of our study, but if you choose to take the fish we can reuse the transmitter. Please call 413-320-1521 to make arrangements to turn it in.
The North River is one of the major tributaries of the Deerfield River; it is designated as a ‘Major River’ by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
At about 12:30 PM on September 1, I observed hundreds of dead fish at my house near the confluence with the Deerfield. I traced the multiple sizes and species of dead fish upstream to the Route 112 bridge at Call Road which is just downstream from this Barnhardt Manufacturing plant. On September 2, the DEP confirmed to reporters that a leak of sulfuric acid had occurred at this Barnhardt cotton processing facility.
CORRECTION: The dead fish included the long-nosed sucker a ‘listed’ species in Massachusetts. Read about the special status of this fish at the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species web page. The photograph below turns out to be a Longnose Dace. This species is not listed in MA. However, Leanna Fontaine is the biologist from MA F&W who was called in after I reported the spill to the MA Environmental Police. She left me a voice message today (9/3/19) stating she had seen multiple species in her sojourn out here to the North River including “black nosed and longnose dace and white suckers and longnose suckers, tessellated darters, common shiners, creek chubs and the like and a a couple of salamanders and crayfish.” So she did find longnose suckers – the species of special interest per the MA Natural Heritage and Endangered species. Hope this information helps to further clarify the significance of this event.
I reported the fish kill and apparent spill to the MA Environmental Police. They reported it to DEP and a MA F&W biologist was notified and investigated. The media started to report the story on September 2. Here’s a video of fellow DRWTU board member Chris Jackson and I being interviewed by Channel 22 news. Here’s the story as reported by the Greenfield Recorder. Watch this website for updates as this story develops.
Through social media many local residents have expressed outrage about the failure of the plant to get the word out that a dangerous chemical had been leaked into a river that is used for fishing and swimming by their children and families. Many questions are still unanswered. Below are some photos taken by a student at Mohawk Trail Regional High School who lives along this stretch of the river.
Join us in our mission to address this issue and protect and preserve coldwater fisheries including the North River and the entire Deerfield River Watershed. Currently we have several conservation projects planned including a study of trout movement using telemetry and a September 28 river clean-up effort at Bardwells Ferry with our partner organization, the Connecticut River Conservancy. A ‘Rock Roll’ to create a cold water refuge for trout at the mouth of the Pelham Brook will get underway as soon as we get the local permits required. Become a member of our chapter, or make a donation By clicking the button below.
As co-chair of the DRWTU Conservation Committee, Kevin Parsons has submitted a letter along with the interim report from the second year’s spawning study on the Deerfield River to the Federal Energy Resource Commission. Click Here to see Parsons Letter.
Members of Deerfield River Watershed Trout Unlimited and friends spent three days identifying and recording data for redds on the Upper Deerfield in November and early December 2018. Blowout flood conditions during the month of October forced a frustrating cycle of scheduling, cancelling and rescheduling survey dates. Despite weather conditions that were less than favorable, 17 volunteers led by Erin Rodgers and Mike Hayden found 30 redds on November 17 and 18. Another 50 redds were recorded by teams led by Mike Hayden under more favorable conditions on December 1.
Our Chapter has been selected by TU National to receive the 2018 Gold Trout award. This prestigious award is awarded annually to the Chapter which has “taken innovative and thoughtful approaches to build and expand community and advance TU’s conservation mission”. Of the 420 Chapters, DRWTU has been recognized by TU as its top Chapter for 2018.
Inspired by the DRWTU spawning study, MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is commencing a long-term study of the brown trout population on the Deerfield. Here’s a May 9, 2018 statement from Adam Kautza PhD, Coldwater Fisheries Project Leader: “We have completed adipose fin clipping to mark the standard annual allotment of all 1000 hatchery Brown Trout that are stocked into the upper Deerfield River. These marked fish will be going out to the river within the next two weeks. Please be aware that there are other hatchery-origin Brown Trout already in the system from past years’ stockings that have not been marked with an adipose fin clip. Physically marking the Spring 2018 Deerfield River batch of hatchery Brown Trout stands as an initial step in a larger effort to learn more about the Brown Trout population in the upper Deerfield River, both hatchery-origin and wild, stream-born fish. Marking of hatchery fish, together with other elements of the Deerfield River Brown Trout Study, will continue for several years. We would like to note that the impetus for this project has largely been through a collaborative effort including meetings and ongoing discussions among Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and Trout Unlimited (in particular, the Deerfield River Chapter and the Massachusetts-Rhode Island Council), as well as input and assistance from a number of other interested parties and individuals from UMass, USGS, local Deerfield River fishing guides, and local watershed groups.”
Please report all of your encounters with brown trout (both with the adipose fin and without) here.
Our chapter is very fortunate to have Mike Cole as one of its active members. Mike is an expert in the field of acquatic insects and their fascinating life cycles. With funding from Trout Unlimited national and the River’s Calendar Project, Mike carefully researched and wrote “A Field Guide To Common Aquatic Insect Hatches in Massachusetts”, a 45 page compendium of information complete with stunning photos of the nymphs, duns and spinners of the major hatches on Massachusetts waters. Click on the mayfly image below to view this useful reference guide. It is an entomological gem and a great resource for anglers fly fishing The Deerfield River.