“New Growth Springs Eternal”

The saying “Hope Springs Eternal”, the proverb means that “it is human nature to always find cause for optimism”. So the title above can mean this also applies to the new growth on plants that at first looked like they were goners. That is just a passing thought, when you look at the photograph below:

If you take a close look at the dead top of the cutting above, you will see that the cutting once had a healthy limb growing, during its first season, after planting. It had stood out as one of the plants that didn’t make it, for the following year and then the big surprise! Three years later, a small shoot of new growth appeared on the dead stick, at its base. This new limb had sprung out of the ground from a suckering sprout on the base of the cutting.

This new growth that appeared a few years later, on the plant shown above, was something that I have seen before on numerous occasions. It is very uplifting to witness a tough little plant that is hanging onto life. After all, the planting site has not seen a healthy riparian zone of willow growth, in many decades. Now there is hope for new generations of willow plants. It is all about resilience!

As long as there is enough moisture and roots to sustain a plant, they may struggle, but eventually they may show signs of survival. It is kind of like life in general, for many of us humans on this planet. This is why it is an important lesson to teach young people how to plant willows and trees. They can see for themselves that our environments are fragile, just like human beings. If we end up with in-fertile soil along our streams, the recovery will be long and difficult for our native plants, like willows and trees.

Unstable Stream Banks Are Now Showing Recovery

I enjoy planting native willows and trees along unstable stream banks, the rewards are so evident after only a few years of growth. When you plant cuttings into exposed soil, there is no immediate competition from other types of plants, for a while anyway! This lack of competition for moisture and nutrient gives the new plantings a great advantage, for that critical first season of growth. Once the plants are established they can flourish with the good start, growing thick over time.

The thick willow in this photo, is actually a few of them, planted close together. More plantings were carried out this past season, so the bank is one of many, that are doing what they were intended to.
Recent plantings, four years ago, are now starting to grow along the stream channel on Bighill Creek.

The Winter Emergence Has Begun

I didn’t have time to get down to the creek and check for January emergence, but I did find newly emerged trout later on. Yesterday as a matter of fact! This is fantastic news, once again, and this makes the 10th year that trout eggs have successfully incubated and hatched in the Millennium Creek Spawning Channel. A project that has proven itself over and over. This is uplifting to me every time. Seeing a new generation of tiny trout appear in the harshest weather, mid-winter, is a sight to behold.

I took this photo just the other day. It was the first time this winter that I could confirm a trout hatch on Millennium Creek. This small brook trout is only approximately 2.5 cm in length. The young trout are very vulnerable at this age of only weeks since emergence from the spawning beds.
It may take a few seconds for you to figure out what this photo is. I am taking a photo of a small trout, hidden under a log. The trout’s shadow gives it away. You can eventually see that you are looking straight into the face of a small brook trout, casting a large shadow.
There are plenty of good places to hide, for the young trout. Only a quick dart away, is the cover of branches and cobble sized stones. There is plenty of debris floating on the shallow surface. It is here that the young trout will find tiny midges that hatch all winter long.

The recently hatched brook trout in the photos are living in a microscopic world. That is why they have such large eyes in relationship to their body size. Over time, this will change and they end up like the more familiar looking trout. During their first year, the trout fry live on a diet of Diptera, like the smaller Mosquitoes, Gnats and Midges, along with other small food items. Tiny shrimp are common, and the earlier stages of hatched Mayfly and Caddis fly larva.

The tiny trout do like to catch a little sun when they can, safely. It helps warm up their metabolism and assist in their feeding. But for the observer, you need to be patient and very observant, to find them in their world of cover or hiding places.

After a brook trout egg hatches in the early winter, the trout larva will spent weeks in their gravel beds, so they are quite comfortable at hiding in the gravel and cobble of a stream bed. There are predators about, including large water beetles, dragonfly nymphs and other aquatic predators. Birds like Dippers, Grebes and Mergansers feed on young trout, so there are threats from above as well.

The struggle of a wild trout fry is monumental. If they survive their first year of life, many of their siblings will have perished. It is such a unique stage of a young trout’s life and it is worth protecting. Taking care of our local streams is so important to a trout populations survival. Recognizing what we have to protect, has always been an important part of my message.
This trout fry searches the surface for any spent midge flies.

Classic Wet Flies

One of my wet fly displays caught my eye a few days ago, so I decided to share the vision with this photo. A few of these well known wet fly classics may be a familiar sight, but if not, enjoy their beauty.

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