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… and why they’re so important!

June in the Eastern Sierra is “take a kid or friend fishing” month. Our big backyard is the perfect place to teach your youngsters and friends about fishing. Besides the fresh mountain air, wide open spaces, crystal clear streams and deep blue lakes, there are some very good reasons why fishing in the Eastern Sierra is so great.

River health is one very important factor in the life and times of the fish that run these waters. It may seem obvious that healthy rivers provide good conditions for healthy fish. What makes a river healthy may not be so obvious.

Many flyfishers are familiar with the wide variety of aquatic insects in the Sierra Nevada and these unique harbingers of stream health are a major contributor to the health of streams and rivers.

Stream environments can be divided into two major habitat types:

Riffles – which are shallow rocky areas with swift currents, and

Pools – which are deeper areas often at stream bends where currents are slower, particles settle out and deposits of sediment, leaves and wood accumulate.

The Herbst Lab, at the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory (SNARL), has been studying the health of aquatic ecosystems since 1986. In a recent publication of the Friends of the Inyo Magazine, the Jeffrey Pine Journal, the lab published a field guide to aquatic stream insects.

Here with kind permission of The Herbst Lab is a field guide to 6 aquatic invertebrates that are vital to the health of our streams and rivers.

6 Aquatic Stream Insects

The aquatic invertebrates pictured here are all immatures. They go through development, molting their skin or cuticle as they grow. Nymphs are those that become very similar looking adults, just sprouting wings, while those know as larvae go through a complete metamorphosis where the adults look very different (as a butterfly to a caterpillar).

Doroneuria

Doroneuria (photo credit: R.B. Medhurst)

Duroneuria

Known by the common name as the golden stonefly, this is a large active predator (2-3”) that searches like a tiger for prey. The nymphs live only in cold turbulent riffle habitats and live for several years before maturing into winged adults. They are indicators of good habitat quality and an important food source to fish.

 

Pteronarcys

Pteronarcys (photo credit: R.B. Medhurst)

Pteronarcys

The California salmonfly (2-3”) is another large stonefly that develops over multiple years. It is also a good indicator of quality habitat and important in food webs. Frequently found around large submerged rocks where packs of leaves often get stuck on the upstream side of rocks. With an eating style known as a shredder, it eats the decomposing leaves and wood.

 

Tipula

Tipula (photo credit: R.B. Medhurst)

Tipula

The crane fly larvae (1-3”) often live in pools and are also consumers of decaying leaf and wood matter. It develops into large long-legged true flies (order Diptera), sometimes called Mosquito hawks. These fragile insects do not eat mosquitos, feeding little if at all during their short adult life span. The larvae, sometimes known as leather jackets, store enough nutrition after multiple years of growth for the mated adult female to develop eggs.

 

Rhyacophila

Rhyacophila (photo credit: R.B. Medhurst)

Rhyacophila

The primitive mountain caddisflies (0.5-1”) are all predatory and common in cool streams at moderate to high elevation, and are a diverse genus of many species. Unlike most other caddis that build portable cases of sand grains or plant material, these caddis larvae are free-living cruising for prey in unpolluted streams.

 

Arctopsyche

Arctopsyche (photo credit: R.B. Medhurst)

Arctopsyche

Net-spinning caddisflies (0.5-1”), known to fly fishing as the great gray spotted sedge, use silk to build a fixed retreat on rocks where larvae position themselves to collect drifting food particles in a mesh net they spin at an opening in the case they build. As with caterpillars that spin silk, the material is quite strong, resisting the currents where capture of food particles is most productive. Like butterflies, the adults have scales on their wings, looking somewhat like moths. They act as ecosystem engineers in streams, building structures and filtering suspended food particles.

 

Cinygmula

Cinygmula (photo credit: R.B. Medhurst)

Cinygmula

These mayfly nymphs are small (0.2-0.5”), often sprawled on rock surfaces whwere their flattened bodies permit them to move easily in fast water, and where they can graze or scrape off thin films of algae for their food. Known as dark red quills in fly fishing jargon, these nymphs live just a year or less and only very briefly as diaphanous adults. As with the insects above, they are integral to the food web of streams and their presence shows a healthy environment.

 

Earth Day & Education

Kids love bugs! At the recent Earth Day celebrations at the Bishop City Park, the guys from Herbst Lab had a wonderful display of insects and a fun “petting zoo”. Educational information and results from their research is available online at The Herbst Lab.

Kids love bugs!

Kids love bugs! (photo credit: The Herbst Lab)

Fascinating!

Fascinating! (photo credit: The Herbst Lab)

“Science is only powerful when shared.” – The Herbst Lab.

Take a Kid or Friend Fishing

When you head out to the river or up into the mountains take a child, a friend, a family member and share the love of fishing in the Eastern Sierra. Take a look into the streams and pools and see if you can spot these amazing little creatures that make fishing in the Eastern Sierra the rewarding experience that it is.

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15 hours ago

Thank you to the Fairgrounds!!Let's give it up for our local Fairgrounds to step into a summer full of safe outdoor fun; featuring more space for RV and tent camping, plus big events like Mule Days, California High School Rodeo, a Drive-In and Tailgate Concert series - all at the Tri County Fairgrounds, in Bishop! They're planning for a bigger and better year, bigger stage, better sound, bigger acts, and better seats! 🎥🍿--

#inyocounty #tricountyfairgrounds #driveinmovie
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Thank you to the Fairgrounds!!

2 days ago

Look at this sweet foal that was born yesterday!! 😍 Quite a Mother’s Day gift!

Photo by Julie Faber
#visitbishop
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Look at this sweet foal that was born yesterday!! 😍 Quite a Mother’s Day gift! 

Photo by Julie Faber
#visitbishop

Comment on Facebook

Awww. Congratulations momma

Hi sweet baby.❤️

Sweet baby horse.

Aww adorable

Truly beautiful ....well done Mummy ❤

Beautiful!!!

Beautiful horses!

Que belleza 😊 me encanta todo lo que tenga que ver con los caballos, lindo y hermoso día

Sara Kvaas ... not sure if you follow this page, given how we love Aspendell!

Beautiful

💞

Sweetheart.

So pretty.

So cute

Ohhhh cute!

Awww 🥰

❤️🐎❤️❗️

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5 days ago

Wishing you and your littles a happy Friday and a wonderful weekend!! ❤️

#visitbishop
Photo by Betsy Forsyth
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Wishing you and your littles a happy Friday and a wonderful weekend!! ❤️

#visitbishop
Photo by Betsy Forsyth

Comment on Facebook

Always enjoyed fishing the canal.

Love Bishop and the Sierras

So beautiful and amazing pictures thanks for sharing 🙂🙂❤❤

My favorite place 😍🤗

We went a couple of years ago maybe 3 yrs ago what fun times we had there🤗

Beautiful

I think the big Brownies got a few of those

That's so cute.

Love that canal

Beautiful

Thank you 😊

Put any campfire completely out!

Sweet .

Be there soon

❤️😍

So many wonderful memories there!

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6 days ago

Last year... Please #RecreateResponsibly!!!Remember this from last year? The smoke was horrific, and most of the fires weren’t even right here. Please remind ANYONE that is going camping, be it here in Inyo County, or elsewhere, to PLEASE BE CAREFUL WITH FIRE!!

Earlier this week Mammoth Lakes Fire Department responded to TWO different fires that started because campfires were not extinguished properly (one was a dispersed camping fire, and the other was in an area where fires are prohibited)!! It is going to be a tough year with the dry conditions, so we need to act accordingly!! Extreme fire conditions already exist. If you make a fire, please do it in a campground where there are fire pits, and make sure it is COMPLETELY out.

Please #RecreateResponsibly !!!
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Last year... Please #RecreateResponsibly!!!

Comment on Facebook

We need to stop the lightening and get rid of the power lines. No more electricity 🥰

Just everybody use common sense. And don't forget to pick up after yourselves. Leave no trace. <3

It gripes my ass when people just don't care. It doesn't take rocket science to put out a camp fire and to know how dry it is and we have international signs where people around the world know what they mean even when they can't read. They have no heart or respect for life animal's or human. I pray we don't have a repeat of last year.

It was awful, be careful out there. Be mindful of nature.

Its sound like it will be a dry summer across the west.....be careful....barb

Beautiful

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7 days ago

If you are wondering what it's looking like up Big Pine Creek, here is a shot from a couple of days ago. It is the view up the South Fork of Big Pine Creek from the North Fork trail. Thank you to Alan Haight for this stunning shot!!

We welcome you to send your beautiful photos to us in Messenger, or on Facebook or Instagram make sure to tag us #VisitBishop! Thank you!

#visitbishop #RecreateResponsibly #mindfultraveler #bigpinecreek
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If you are wondering what its looking like up Big Pine Creek, here is a shot from a couple of days ago. It is the view up the South Fork of Big Pine Creek from the North Fork trail. Thank you to Alan Haight for this stunning shot!! 

We welcome you to send your beautiful photos to us in Messenger, or on Facebook or Instagram make sure to tag us #VisitBishop! Thank you! 

#visitbishop #RecreateResponsibly #mindfultraveler #bigpinecreek

Comment on Facebook

Gosh this is beautiful!

Some of the most rugged terrain I've ever seen is up that canyon! Truly an amazing part of the Sierras.

Have hiked in this region. So beautiful

I highly recommend visiting Bishop. So much to see and do. 🤠

My old stomping grounds!💕

I LOVE BISHOP! ❤

Love the picture

Went as far as june lake

Gorgeous!

Love it there!

Beautiful

Beautiful

Beautiful!🏔

Beautiful!

Nice

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