NANFA-- River Reef Report 8/28

kahley (
Wed, 28 Aug 2002 10:38:28 -0500

Betcha thought i drowned or sumtin', eh <g>?
Well it's been a busy time and it's hard to sit down and
tell memories when it's warm and sunny. Time to make memories!
Ya'll have been talking lots and I can't wait to get caught up!

The last I remember was being declared Doc Kahley. Not
a good idea. As it is, I see waaaay too many sick fish.
It is almost as if the reef is a hospital zone. I should specify
sick bass as they seem to be the ones with the majority of
the problems.

I have three theories as to why they come to the reef. Maybe they
were "raised" there an are somehow drawn back when injured or
dying. Maybe the reef has become the bass's version of the
elephant graveyard and all bass come there to die. Of course
the likely reason is for the shelter. There are TONS of rocks
there to absorb the energy of the boat wakes so it's probably
one of the more restful places to recoup or die.

In any case, it's so sad. I hate watching them starve when
their jaws are broken or they eat a lure. Two big bass, 16-20
inchers with wounds to the head. The bigger, had the more
horrific wound, it was round deep ,,,,almost looked like an abscess
which had opened on the top, behind the eyes. There was a deformity
of it's back that looked like massive edema,,,swollen till his profile
more resembled that of a "drum-type" fish instead of the sleek
profile of a bass. He spent two days and then was gone.

This year, there seems to be a high number of skin infections.
I first thought these fish were damaged when someone ran into the reef.
(Yes...despite an orange and white marker, I think someone ran
into it,,,grrrrrrrrr.......more on that later) but it's only the bass that seem
to be affected.

Maybe it was the heat and the lack of flow. The drought has provided me
with lots of good snorkeling days but the water heated to the point where
is felt unnatural. We don't generally get weeks of 90 ish weather around
here. Yesterday, on the radio, I heard the PA drought described as the
worst in 30 yrs. While the dam is keeping the water level up, the flow
has been at times, almost non-existent. I monitor the flow and levels
at the closest USGS survey point upstream. It reached a low of 931
cu.ft.per sec.last Tues. The median for this time of year is about 2000.
Aug is usually low flow but it has been running in a range of 35 to 45
percent of
median for all of July and Aug. Without the dam, The water would be
at least a foot lower if you extrapolate the water levels as measured
at the USGS site upstream. Basically, when it stopped rainning on
the 18th of June, it stopped rainning. We've had a few T-storms and showers
but nothing sustaining until recently.
I noticed the slight increase in flow because the algae began to move.
Usually, in the heat of late July and earl Aug we get a growth of several
different types of algae. Some look like sections of fish net stockings,
tubular and about six ins, in length. Another looks like Troll hair, if
you remember those dolls that were all the rage in the sixties. That
type has a bit more structure. Both types cover the bottom to varying
degrees. I remember one season, about six years ago of prolific
algae. It grew to a depth of two feet plus, smothering the other
vegetation. I used an eight foot section of branch to push it away from
he reef area as it had formed a blanket, four feet deep!

When the water cools and the current picks up even slightly, this stuff
breaks loose and begins to move, much to the frustration of the nesting
Sunnies. Even a strand of this intrusion must be picked up and out of
the nest so you can imagine how busy they get!

Sometimes, if the conditions are right, meaning few boat wakes to
disrupt things, the algae begins to tumble and roll. Like a snowball,
it gathers more algae as it moves and forms a cylinder. Just
yesterday, I looked up and saw one "incoming" that had to be 14
feet long and headed straight for the reef. Since one of the Sunnies
has actual fry and the other has eggs hatching, I didn't want these tiny, tiny
babies getting wound up in the mass of algae so I ever so slowly nudged
the mass out past the reef.
Yes, we have babies! More on that next time. This is the first year
I have been able to so closely observe the birthin' <g>. Since the algae
started, the picture taking stopped for the most part. Yes...I have pictures!
Not a lot of good ones so far...learning curve is steep. And the best
I think, were lost when I forgot I had stashed it between the deck of the boat
and the pontoon and drove off...aaaarrrgh! But there are some that are
"OK" I guess and in a couple minutes I will pick up another two rolls worth.
I have gone thru six cameras this season. I'm need to get a real camera
with a flash and close-up capabilities if I can find one in my price range
Any advice on that is very very welcome. And I just ordered a snorkeling skin!
So I hope to extend my season by a week or so, but I loose the boat dock
mid Sept so there isn't much time left. It's predicted to be 70 and very
for the next three days so it's time to_try_and get caught up on my job and
the house<yeech>work.
More later, my pictures await me. you know if there are free
hosting spots on the net for personal photos? I guess i'm entitled to
a home page from my ISP, but I'll have to check on the limitations of
size. Later!
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