SEWTU: Trout Stream Therapists

It’s becoming a tradition for Trout Unlimited Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter #078 to close out their workday schedule for the year at the Scuppernong River.  The Buckthorn Man documented a little of the history of this great organization after their last therapy session on the river back on December 6, 2014.  These guys are passionate about trout fishing and dedicated to improving the health of the local trout streams.

I met the DNR River Doctors back in February 2013.


From the left: Dr. Krall, Dr. Notbohm, Dr. Gospoderak, Dr. Heussner and Trail Boss Don Dane in front

Ok, they aren’t really doctors, they’re “only” Fisheries Biologists and Technicians, but metaphorically speaking, they do heal trout streams and they shared their skills with the willing and able volunteers from Trout Unlimited — transforming them into “Trout Stream Therapists.”

The headwaters of the  Scuppernong River are still recovering from the human interventions that created THE PONDS OF THE SCUPPERNONG.

B097164-R1-06-7_007Submerged for over 120 years, the original river bed was all but lost.  Immediately below the upper pond, shown above, was another embankment that created the lower pond, the site of a sawmill, cheese factory and finally, a hotel.  Downstream from there, where the “big bend” points the river west, they built a goldfish farm.

It’s a long journey back to Class I Trout Stream for the Scuppernong River, and the kind of work that the DNR coordinated with Trout Unlimited last Saturday is slowly but surely going to: “fix the water”, as Tracy Hames, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, would say.  As of now, the headwaters of the Scuppernong River is still a Class II Trout Stream, but we have seen a lot of habitat improvements made over the last couple years and the fish counts improved in 2015.

ScuppernongRiverTroutClassificationFisheries Biologist, Ben Heussner, identified 12 work sites and explained the plan for the day.

IMG_6680IMG_6682ScuppernongRiverWordayOverviewMy right hand is still healing from surgery for Dupuytren’s Contracture (Ben and “Gus” had offered to straighten it out for me), so I enjoyed shadowing Ben as he visited the work sites.  I’ll document them in the order that we encountered them that morning, including video, and before and after pictures for each site.


We did not have enough biologs to accomplish all of the original goals and Ben and Gus made the call that it would take too long get another load from off-site.  Below, Josh and Gus saw an area just upstream from the gaging station bridge, that was not on Ben’s plan, to do a little therapy.


#6 & #7 We did not get to.

Since The Buckthorn Man cut all the brush, it’s pretty slim pick’ins to fill in behind the biologs.  Ben suggested we wait for winter and use a sled to drag brush over from some distant piles.



#4 We did not get to


#3 The Big Bend


#1 The Hotel Springs

#9 Downstream from gaging station bridge

A brush piling brigade!

#11 The Marl Pit Bridge

We celebrated the last workday of the year with another classic Trout Unlimited brat fry.

Thanks again to everyone who participated.  We got a lot done — it was a great day.

See you at The Springs!

6 thoughts on “SEWTU: Trout Stream Therapists

  1. Hi Paul I enjoyed this post and admire the work that you are doing. I think it is great. However I am just wondering, wouldn’t one major rainstorm wipe out all the bio log work? I would guess that the marsh streams overflow on a regular basis. By limiting the overflow that would disperse water into the marsh means someplace downstream is going to flood real bad. John


    • Hi John. Since the Scuppernong River is fed mostly by springs in the area of the headwaters, it is not subject to flood events that would wipe out the biolog work. There is variability in the outflow from the springs and it takes a long time to filter in from rainstorms. I don’t know exactly how long, but it’s not immediate, like you would see in flooding event caused by rainwater entering the river directly. The river does experience slightly higher water levels during rain events, but the area of accumulation in the immediate headwaters area, where the biologs are, is not great enough to deliver a volume of water that would dislodge the biologs. The biolog structures are widely scattered and not water tight, so water will never accumulate within them — it will overflow, or, more likely, flow between them, and not flood areas downstream.


      • Well, I stand corrected. The biologs at the “Big Bend” did “fail” or get washed out in a recent rain event per Ben Heussner. Watch the video at #3 The Big Bend above.


  2. Pingback: Buckthorn Resolution | I Am The Buckthorn Man

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