Rebuilt trout streams offer boost in size and quantity of fish.
States like Minnesota and Wisconsin have seen great success in recent years improving trout fishing streams for both fish and anglers. Crews come in to improve the stream bed as well as habitat areas for the fish. Upon completion of the stream revival project, old trout streams flourish with deeper holes, stable banks, and plunge pools, all of which help to nurture the population of trout in the stream.
Jeff Hastings, a project manager for the Driftless Area Restoration Project, leads the regional efforts of stream restoration for Trout Unlimited. In a recent interview captured here, Hastings describes the transition the streams take from start to finish. “If you walk a stream before habitat improvement, in a mile you might find some places with a deep pool and overhead cover where you are going to find some fish. After we do a project, almost every bend is going to have overhead cover. Instead of six or seven places to fish on that mile, you are going to have 20 to 27.”
John Sours, a habitat biologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, has been restoring trout streams for over 30 years. According to Sours, it’s not uncommon for many streams to have two to three feet of silt on the bottom of the stream, making the area almost inaccessible to anglers.
In one recent project, erosion and soil coverage was so bad the restoration crew found remnants of a barbed wire fence eight feet underground. The restoration projects include everything from excavation of soot and silt to removal and replacement of vegetation near the stream. Proper vegetation improves both the quality and quantity of bugs and aquatic insects that the trout require as food.
Minnesota has received $13 million since 2009 towards the efforts of trout stream restoration courtesy of the Outdoor Heritage fund. The group has funded at least $1 million worth of projects per year over the time period. Similarly, Wisconsin funds it’s restoration projects to the tune of $1.5 million per year courtesy of the state’s trout stamp program.
With the improvements of habitat via these restoration projects, volunteers and team members suggest that the population of trout can grow tenfold. As a result, larger healthier fish are commonly found in the newly rehabilitated waters.