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Gauging our chances


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Bone Daddy

Well folks, the season is winding down, but we have another window to hunt before the summer rains come. I honestly thought the season was toast after that last big rain event a couple weeks ago. Look at that peak on the graph. It hit 9.25 feet briefly before beginning to retreat. Usually double-digits is the kiss of death around this time of year. But, the previous weeks were very dry and the ground acted like a sponge. The ground is not nearly as thirsty now, so another big rain event like that will probably finish the season off - unless we have another long dry stretch afterwards, which becomes increasingly-unlikely as June approaches.

 

gauge.gif.5d3284deacc2cb46f9ebe8d694daed09.gif

 

For those unfamiliar, that is the USGS river gauge for Zolfo Springs. Some people use the Arcadia gauge or others, but I use Zolfo because I find it's a pretty good gauge for the entire middle-stretch of the Peace. If the Zolfo gauge says 6 feet or less, then the entire stretch from Bartow to Arcadia is huntable. I started using the Zolfo gauge and it just became habit.

 

Personal tastes for water levels vary by person. My comfort zone is five feet or below. I've been out there when the gauge was as high as eight feet, but I really prefer it to be under six feet. Anything below 4 feet is too low - requires too much portaging the kayak and hunting basically becomes a wet hike instead of paddling.

 

I'll be getting out there again in a couple of days. I'd like to scoop up a few more things before the Peace becomes too dangerous for paddling. In the summer, when the Peace is too high, we like to go paddling on the spring-fed rivers like the Chaz. That's a lot of fun also, but there is no fossil-hunting involved, so it's a different kind of adventure.

 

I know some of my fellow river rats have been hitting the Peace lately. Any of you folks having good luck?

 

 

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Meanwhile, the season is just starting up here.  It is supposed to hit 80 on Friday.  We had snow last weekend.  

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7 hours ago, jpc said:

Meanwhile, the season is just starting up here.  It is supposed to hit 80 on Friday.  We had snow last weekend.  

Oh, to just be able to fly around and hit each locality in its peak. :)

 

I managed to hit the Peace once this season and I'm hoping for a second chance before my hopes float away.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Al Dente

This is a little off topic but Bone Daddy’s spelling of “gauge” and the USGS spelling “gage” (seen in the graph above) reminded me of why there is a difference and that the USGS continues to use the unusual spelling. Here is a clip that explains the unusual spelling. 

 

 

BBA68A52-4B88-417E-972B-CA56E7BC16FD.jpeg

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My eyes are always drawn to the graph and I've never even noticed the novel spelling. Cool syntactic artifact. ;)

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Bone Daddy

Made it out to the river yesterday. It was a beautiful day for it, but both of us (my wife and I) were not feeling tip-top physically, so we had a casual day of "hunting" which was as much picnic as it was hunting. Neither of us have been the same since beating Covid last year and I am suspecting that we are what is being called "Long Haulers". The decline in my stamina since last year is striking. I can't paddle nearly as hard or as far any more. We had to stop and take rest breaks much more frequently. I didn't notice it as much on my last trip because the water was so low that we ended up walking half of the distance (which isn't as hard on me as paddling). 

 

Speaking of water levels.... the gauge was a little misleading. The river was higher than I expected based on the gauge data. We had to do more paddling than I thought, and I would have liked to do more walking and pulling the loaded tandem yak behind me. So, we cut the distance short and hunted at one of my backup spots. The stretch we ended up hunting is a popular one that sees a lot of hunting pressure. So I ended up sifting gravel that had been sifted 100x before and I didn't find much - just the usual dugong ribs, turtle scutes, and broken chunkasaurus pieces. Very few teeth, which tells me that gravel has been hunted to death. Tina spent most of the day sitting on the bank in the shade wishing she felt better, so I don't have many photos to share - she usually walks around and takes a ton of photos, but not this time. Bearing all of that in mind, it's not really worth writing up a real report with lots of photos.

 

My meager finds are drying out now and will post a pathetic photo of them later. LOL.

 

Well, the forecast looks mostly dry, so hopefully the river continues to drop and I can make it back out there when the levels are more friendly to my paddling/walking style. I think this year will be my last for concentrating on Gardner. For a few years I hunted Zolfo Springs to death and started getting diminishing returns there. The same thing is happening with Gardner now. Next year we'll probably pick a new stretch to focus on.

 

BTW - is anyone here in the forum good at ID'ing tiny vertebrae? This latest find is one of several I now have - probably from small birds, reptiles, or amphibians. 

 

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Sorry you weren't feeling in top form but at least you got out and did some paddling and some sifting.

 

I've seen a lot of tiny verts while working through Montbrook material. Can't promise I'll recognize anything but looking forward to seeing some images of the little verts.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Bone Daddy
On 4/30/2021 at 4:48 PM, digit said:

Sorry you weren't feeling in top form but at least you got out and did some paddling and some sifting.

 

I've seen a lot of tiny verts while working through Montbrook material. Can't promise I'll recognize anything but looking forward to seeing some images of the little verts.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

 

I'll have to get my stepdaughter to take the photos. My camera and photography skills are very lacking. Capturing clear bright photos of such tiny objects is very difficult for me. She has a lightbox and has done photography work for her university's anthropology collection. I'll try to get that done sooner rather than later.

 

 

 

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Bone Daddy

Some of you who have hunted Gardner may recognize this stretch of river from the photos. This "straight stretch" of the river is a common hunting spot that sees a lot of pressure. Last year, there was a good amount of gravel accessible in this area. Now, there is a ton of sand sitting on top of the gravel. I probed a lot of spots on this stretch and I had a hard time finding the gravel that was there last year. There must be at least a foot of sand sitting on top of it now. I think I am going to give Gardner a break for a while after this season concludes. I need to find greener pastures and this entire stretch of river seems to be increasingly tapped out of quality finds. Or, alternately, I need to get my motor mounted and working so I can venture further from the ramp. It seems like everything within easy reach of the ramp is hunted out here (not unlike Zolfo).

 

gardner-04-29-21.thumb.jpeg.4d13d90a48ea47b6b54225dc22dfe3dc.jpeggardner-04-29-21-1.thumb.jpeg.ad4744d7d279cddd10430b856711a1b6.jpegIn c

 

In case anyone is wondering : No, I am not digging the banks. I am digging in the shallows and redistributing my gravel back into the river channel. I don't dig craters on the banks and I don't leave obvious spoil piles laying around. In fact. there isn't much "digging" going on here in this photo, it would be more accurately described as scooping gravel off the river bed. There were no bomb craters in the shallows when I was done.  :)

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digit
11 hours ago, Bone Daddy said:

 

I'll have to get my stepdaughter to take the photos. My camera and photography skills are very lacking. Capturing clear bright photos of such tiny objects is very difficult for me. She has a lightbox and has done photography work for her university's anthropology collection. I'll try to get that done sooner rather than later.

Spectacular! Looking forward to it. Photographing micros is a challenge to be sure.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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