Fish at Mink Brook

The Mink Brook watershed, Hanover’s largest, harbors healthy populations of wild brook trout, even in some of its smallest tributaries. Fisheries biologists from New Hampshire’s Fish and Game Department, working with volunteers from Trout Unlimited, the Conservancy’s Mink Brook Stewardship Committee, and Hanover students conducted a thorough study of the Mink Brook watershed in July, 2011.

Wild brook trout from Trout Brook

The study is part of the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, a region-wide effort  looking at habitat for wild brook trout.  At Mink Brook, biologists examined details of each section’s habitat characteristics, measured water temperature, and recorded the length, weight, and species of each fish captured. Fish were “borrowed” from the water by electro-fishing – a wand sending a weak electric current through the water temporarily stuns the fish, which can then be scooped up with a net and transferred to a bucket for study.  All fish were returned to the brook after their brief examination.

Mink Brook is among the streams under study by Dartmouth for survival of young Atlantic salmon, and a number of  young salmon turned up.

“Absolutely, this is one of the best wild brook trout streams we’ve seen,” observed Dianne Timmins, New Hampshire’s coldwater fisheries biologist, as she stood on the banks of Trout Brook in the Conservancy’s Mink Brook Nature Preserve. “The water is clear and cold, the stream well shaded, and we’ve caught 41 fish in this 100-meter (330-foot) stretch!”  Elsewhere in the Mink Brook watershed, the fish were not so lucky – where lawns and gardens have eliminated cooling shade, water temperatures were 15 degrees higher. Warmer water holds less oxygen to sustain trout.

Essential members of the study teams were Hanover volunteers, including Brenda and Jim Knight and Jim Barrett of the Mink Brook Stewardship Committee, Hanover 9th grader Ethan Winter, a dozen other Hanover students ranging in age from 2d-9th grade, and a number of parents. Chip Brown of Etna, a member of Trout Unlimited, coordinated the volunteer teams. The volunteers helped net fish, recorded habitat conditions, carried gear, and returned the fish to their homes.

The Hanover Conservancy sponsored video documentation of the field study, with support from our Mink Brook Endowment Fund.  For more:

Findings are posted here: Mink Brook trout summary.

Map of sampled sub-basins in the Mink Brook watershed.