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Riparian Repairs

Notes from the North Woods

The non-native fish ‘crappie’ have been discovered in Raquette Lake, and will most likely establish itself throughout the surrounding watershed.

The non-native fish ‘crappie’ have been discovered in Raquette Lake, and will most likely establish itself throughout the surrounding watershed.

While the floods were certainly devastating, nature is restorative by nature. The land and the waters will gradually repair whatever damage has been done to the habitat. Fish and furbearers such as beaver, otter and muskrat, will continue to exist, as birds including eagles, herons, and kingfishers return to their familiar haunts.

Despite the fact that two, 500 year floods ravaged the region in less than six months time, the waterways will quickly recover. Some swimming holes may have filled in, and certain river channels have been scoured, filled or rerouted. But in the end, the majority of our rivers and streams will continue to flow, and only those who knew them well, will be able to recognize any difference.

Toubles far worse than a flood

Unfortunately, trouble far greater than a 500 year flood now loom over regional waters. Although the threat is natural, it was obviously made by man and it has the potential to drastically tip the balance and integrity of historic trout fisheries all across the Adirondacks.

Recently, NYSDEC fisheries biologists have discovered the presence of ‘crappie’ in Raquette Lake. Crappies, a non- native species, are now in the lake, and will eventually spread to the surrounding watershed. However, it is likely the damage will not be confined to a single lake, as the non-native species will be able to migrate upstream and downstream throughout the entire Raquette watershed. It’s only a matter of time before they become established in the Fulton Chain, Forked Lake, Long Lake, Tupper Lake and beyond.

DEC personnel believe the crappie were likely introduced by what has often been described as an amateur, ‘bait bucket biologist’. I prefer a more descriptive term, but it can’t be printed in a family newspaper. Whoever’s responsible for introducing crappie into Raquette Lake should recognize that they may have unleashed the Adirondack’s most troublesome fish into the entire Raquette River watershed. It will be impossible to eradicate them.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net.

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