Angler Science: How our angler members contribute to the science behind TU conservation
Check out the following opportunities for anglers to contribute to the scientific understanding of trout and salmon conservation.
TroutBlitz is a project aimed at cataloging the rich diversity of North America’s native salmonids, including trout, steelhead, charr, whitefish, and salmon. Through photography and angling, TU members are building an easily accessible, geo-referenced photo library of native salmonids across their geographic range, as well as documenting the distribution of nonnatives. Check out TroutBlitz on iNaturalist!
Stream Temperature Monitoring
Trout prefer cold water, often less than 65°F, and stream temperature has a strong influence on their well-being. TU restoration projects often target improving stream temperatures, and keeping a record of temperature variability and trends can be an important tool to help confirm the success of these efforts or identify where further work is needed. Waterproof data logging thermometers offer a simple, affordable means to fill this need. Check out our Temperature Monitoring Primer for TU chapters, as well as our Stream Temperature Monitoring Handbook.
Didymo is a small diatom that causes a big problem: large algae mats that smother stream substrates. TU is working with scientists at the University of Idaho to help collect water samples in order to better understand the distribution of this noxious algae.
Eastern Shale Gas Monitoring
Development of shale gas threatens stream systems from Pennsylvania to West Virginia as fracking chemicals and other contaminants enter brook trout streams. Through Trout Unlimited's Pennsylvania Coldwater Conservation Corps, members there have been actively monitoring streams for signs of shale gas development, including changes in basic water quality parameters. Meanwhile, volunteers in West Virginia and Virginia are monitoring areas currently experiencing shale gas development, as well as collecting baseline data in areas which are likely to be developed in the future. Catch up on their activities on the WV-VA Shale Gas Monitoring Project page. Located near some of the best public lands in the East, volunteers from the Tiadaghton Chapter are monitoring trout streams for impacts from shale gas development as part of the PATU Coldwater Conservation Corps. Data collected is used to characterize impacts from shale gas development activities and establish baseline conditions in streams not yet affected.
Stream Water Quality
Trout Unlimited, the University of Massachusetts and partners are developing the River’s Calendar, a community science program in which trout anglers will record the seasonal timing of aquatic insect emergence, fish movements and riparian plant flowering while fishing. This information will be translated into detailed calendars of hatches and other riparian life for each river studied – suitable for use by anglers and other river recreationists. This information will also form the basis for an objective, science-based examination of the phenology of streams – the timing of life cycles and how they are influenced by environmental and climate change. Check out the River's Calendar Starter Kit, which includes field guides for aquatic insects in Massachusetts and Oregon.
Here are some outstanding Angler Science projects from our local chapters
- California: Anglers from our Golden State Flycasters are monitoring water quality and performing macroinvertebrate sampling in California steelhead streams.
- Oregon: Anglers from our McKenzie River Chapter are part of a cooperative project using radio telemetry to track wild rainbow and map their movements. This study will help determine impacts of hatchery rainbows on native trout fisheries of the lower McKenzie River.
- Michigan: Michigan TU and their chapters have developed the River Stewards Program which trains and mobilizes members to monitor in-stream temperature, stream habitat, benthic macroinvertebrates, in-stream flow, and fisheries populations. The data they collect helps prioritize restoration projects, focus protection efforts toward the highest-quality coldwater streams, and drive conservation in Michigan.