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  • Wednesday, March 14, 2018

    Year 'Round Fish

    A NURSERY FISHERY
    Spawning Creeks
    resident lunkers
    VERY WORTHWHILE DESTINATION
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    .. When we have access to a sled this is the place we head to at this time of the year.
    .. At the point that the Madison River debauches into Quake Lake is it's confluence with Beaver Creek.
    .. My, my, my such diversity in the riverine and lacustrian waters. And again, diversity in geography, geology, and vegetation, and relief.
    .. And more: ecotone upon ecotone upon ecotone. Wonderfully diverse biomes* flood the senses.
    MORNING ELK, UPPER QUAKE LAKE
    .. The micro biomes, (micro ecosystems*,) in this little bit of the Madison River canyon are diverse and highly productive for providing food for trout, (and other critters too.)
    .. And, that's not counting the rivers' beds and shorelines or,  the sands and gravels from distinctly different basal rocks from two different mountain masses.
    .. There are fish to be had here every day of the year: even the water forms are diverse and shelter fish of all sizes and ages. Such a place indeed!
    .. As the Madison River makes it's last bend, coming out of the narrows canyon it burbles through a series of ever-changing riffles.
    .. These riffles are modified by both varying discharges from Hebgen Dam and from boulder gravels coming down the steep north facing slope of the mountains to the south.
    .. Below the riffles is a short run through nicely sorted sands and gravels. This short run is controlled by the headlands to the south and varies annually depending on the build up or erosion of the alluvial and colluvial deposits from the incipient runoff channels.
    2008 MASTER DISCHARGE CHANNEL
    .. The snowpack and ensuing runoff controls the downslope  displacement of sediments and causes the minor early meanders of the run that can form small bars and an occasional deep hole.
    .. As the water of the short run approaches Quake Lake it runs down grade and picks up speed.
    .. The flow is interrupted by the Beaver Creek Delta.
    .. During a heavy runoff event about 10 years ago the delta expanded and a new master discharge discharge channel was created, [LINK-1].
    .. By march of 2010 the delta had stabilized and a couple of exceptional water features became clogged with huge pods of fish, [LINK-2].
    2010 STABILIZED DELTA
    .. Upstream of the stabilized delta a very deep hole has been scoured out. This holds large resident fish all year, (except when they move upstream for their sexual shenanigans.) The neighbors call this the "DELTA HOLE."
    .. The new delta master channel debauches into the Madison River and diverts the flow around the delta and forms a large gyre downstream of the delta. This gyre is called "THE MERRY-GO-ROUND" by the neighbors.
    2013 STABILIZED DELTA
    .. The 'Merry-Go-Round' is a large liquid 'Lazy Susan' for the fish.
    .. It covers both a shallow bit of the river channel and a bit of the deep outflow from the 'Delta Hole.'
    .. In the winter and, (to a lessor degree,) the springtime, fish run up both Beaver Creek and the Madison River for spawning.
    .. With not too much imagination it is possible to envision the fish movements through the year and through the water.
    .. Spawing gravels are in the Madison River all the way to Hebgen Dam and, in Beaver Creek for quite a ways above the Beaver Creek Campground.
    FISH EATING FRENZY
    .. Scattered along the reaches of both creeks are some protected slack water areas for nursery fish, (and midges.)
    .. The diverse river bottom matrix and vegetation variety on land provide all the necessary elements for a veritable, year 'round,  Garden Of Eden for the trout and, the elk and, the grasshoppers and, the beetles and, the ants and, the caddis and, stoneflies and, crawdads and, the . . . - well you get it.
    .. In the early spring, (like the last three weeks,) the Madison River slowly eats at the ice of Quake Lake and the debris rain attracts hungry trout. They eat sticks and other stuff. Some of it is nutritious.
    THE PARACHUTE MIDGE
    .. Yes indeedie, when there is a sled available during this time of year we get down to this playground and gather up several.
    .. There are spawners coming back down, there are fry for the snacking. There are residents gobbling stuff deep in the water column and at the surface. There are brown ones and, spotted ones and, colorful ones for the taking.
    .. Could be worth the price of a snowmobile.
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    .. The melt down continues and the brave kids in town are splashing through the wet. Rooster tails from bicycles erupt from each intersection as the kids try to escape the errant spray.
    .. Unbelievably we were young once. We have not forgotten that skin is shrink-proof.
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    WALLPAPER:   FISH LIVE HERE

    * The definitions of 'ecosystem' and 'biome' are difficult to apply to the seasonal changes and, the annual changes in both the biota and gromorphology of these dynamic areas.