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Re: Wild Browns

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Most of the browns I catch in the infertile headwaters are bigger than the brookies there. There are truly a handful of 20 inch monsters around, which I assume feed ON the brookies. But most of the browns are 8-10" range class while the brookies are in the 5-9" class. We aren't talking little fingerlings here, we're talking permanent residents.

Brown trout fishing is vastly underrated in many of the freestoners. The one year, during the jam, I took some guys to a small brookie stream, all we got was brookies though we saw a monster brown. I can say that just 2-3 months earlier, I was there and got in the double digits of browns, with most of them 10+", and one at 16". And I still made it over to Spring Creek in afternoon to catch the peak wave of the BWO hatch (you know, after everyone goes home thinkin it was over). They're out there.

Barring big waterfalls and other such barriers, I think virtually every brookie stream has a handful of them. In some, they're 10-20% of the trout population, in others, less than 1%. But they're there. I haven't caught em in all of my streams. But I can't say I have ANY that I'd be shocked to find one in.

Posted on: 2011/9/14 12:23


Re: Wild Browns

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pcray is right about some of the browns in fertile freestone streams.
5footfenwich and I explored a few streams that dump into little and big pine and all were loaded with fish; probably a 50/50 mix brook/brown. Soem of the browns we saw (unfortunately didn't catch) were pushing 20" and in each stream a monster was spotted.
We even spooked a pool that had atleast 40 fish in it. Matter of fact once spooked the smaller fish had no where to go because the larger fish took all the hidding spots.

Posted on: 2011/9/15 9:34
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Re: Wild Browns

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Thanks for this post. For some reason I was under the impression that brook trout were more susceptible to acidification of the water, but I found this quote after reading this post and was corrected:


"Of the three species of trout in the eastern U.S., the brook trout is the only native to the region, and is the most acid tolerant, Bulger says. Non-native rainbow trout and brown trout are more sensitive to acidification, and may experience greater declines due to this process. Bulger limited his study to brook trout (and other native fish species) because they are intrinsically valuable to mountain stream fish communities. These communities include fish species that are sensitive to many kinds of pollution."

Once again PAFF has helped me learn something new. Thanks to all of the posters on this site!!

Salmo

Posted on: 2011/9/15 13:08
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Re: Wild Browns

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Yeah, brookies handle acidic waters the best. What I'm not sure of, is whether its the fish that handle them better, or the eggs. My impression is the latter because travelling browns seem to do just fine, but they can't establish strong populations.

This strength of brookies is one of the only things that has kept them around, IMO. Browns are dominant. Everywhere that browns can establish in numbers, it seems that in time, they take over the brookies. Remember, brookies weren't always the fish of the headwaters, they were everywhere. Headwaters, big rivers, limestoners, etc. It's just that they've been driven out of most of their former haunts by habitat degradation and brown trout. Headwaters are merely the last fortress. Browns invade, but can't gain a foothold.

That said, you then find some brookies in limestoners coexisting with browns. BFC, Big Spring, and others. I haven't yet figured out how they manage, when they didn't manage in so many seemingly similar streams??? Is there separate breeding areas, like tribs or something, that continually supply a source of adult brookies to the big water?

Posted on: 2011/9/15 14:48


Re: Wild Browns

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2011/3/31 12:18
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Quote:

pcray1231 wrote:
Everywhere that browns can establish in numbers, it seems that in time, they take over the brookies. Remember, brookies weren't always the fish of the headwaters, they were everywhere. Headwaters, big rivers, limestoners, etc. It's just that they've been driven out of most of their former haunts by habitat degradation and brown trout. Headwaters are merely the last fortress. Browns invade, but can't gain a foothold.


Spring creek is an excellent example, read this (Link) starting page 17.
Edit: Fixed link

Posted on: 2011/9/15 15:10

Edited by csoult on 2011/9/15 15:39:16
Edited by csoult on 2011/9/15 15:40:35


Re: Wild Browns

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which brings us back to acid rain abatement and noticing more browns. The fact that we've made great strides with all of the scrubbers and such on power plants, is an extreme danger to brook trout populations in this state. Leaves an environmentally minded angler torn.

Acid rain saved the brookie.

Posted on: 2011/9/15 16:44


Re: Wild Browns
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Quote:

pcray1231 wrote:
Yeah, brookies handle acidic waters the best. What I'm not sure of, is whether its the fish that handle them better, or the eggs. My impression is the latter because travelling browns seem to do just fine, but they can't establish strong populations.

This strength of brookies is one of the only things that has kept them around, IMO. Browns are dominant. Everywhere that browns can establish in numbers, it seems that in time, they take over the brookies. Remember, brookies weren't always the fish of the headwaters, they were everywhere. Headwaters, big rivers, limestoners, etc. It's just that they've been driven out of most of their former haunts by habitat degradation and brown trout. Headwaters are merely the last fortress. Browns invade, but can't gain a foothold.

That said, you then find some brookies in limestoners coexisting with browns. BFC, Big Spring, and others. I haven't yet figured out how they manage, when they didn't manage in so many seemingly similar streams??? Is there separate breeding areas, like tribs or something, that continually supply a source of adult brookies to the big water?


There are for the most part a smaller number of wild brown trout in in the SR regulation area of Big Spring when compared to Rainbow & Brookies. Given the "fact" that Brownies are the most prolific of the 3, especially in alkaline streams - why would that be? Further, almost no where (to my knowledge) is there any stream where all 3 wild trout species are present and rainbows outnumber the other two.

http://www.fishandboat.com/images/fis ... 2007/7x09_19bigspring.htm

In BFC, this is more typical of wild Brookie populations (very few when compared to browns):

http://fishandboat.com/images/reports/2010bio/3x03_31fishing.htm

Side note - I have caught a few bows in BFC, but I always attributed that to them being hatchery escapees.

Interesting stuff.

Posted on: 2011/9/16 7:24


Re: Wild Browns

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The conditions of Big Spring favor brookies and rainbows over brown trout. So If you catch a brown, keep it. In fact keep the bows too.

Posted on: 2011/9/16 17:25
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Re: Wild Browns

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One could make an arguement for acid rain making the conditions for brookies in freestone streams more favorable for them, but I don't believe that's the only factor. Brookies fair better during floods and droughts than browns due. I'm not sure if browns are more prolific, I've never heard anyone or seen anyone write that, in fact they usually say that brookies are the more prolific fish.
A biologist in fact told me that brookies produce the same numbers of YOY fish in Fishing Creek(Lamar) in all the surveys, they just can't compete with the browns, browns being more agressive.

I think we're seeing more browns in some of these streams because they are just warmer than they used to be. In fact there are some streams that appear to be reverting to more brookies, is it temperature or acidity, I don't know if anyone knows for sure. But what I do know is that even though scrubbers are being used and the rain is less acidic, it is going to take a very long time for buffering capacity to improve.

Posted on: 2011/9/16 17:31
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Re: Wild Browns

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I subscribe to the warmer water more browns theory and the eastern Pennsylvania streams are certainly experiencing increased water temperatures.

Salmo

Posted on: 2011/9/16 21:28
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Salmo


Re: Wild Browns

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Quote:

streamerguy wrote:
I've never targeted wild brown trout before, but I have caught 3 of them, all in small freestone streams. One was in a mainly brookie stream, one was in a mainly rainbow stream, and the other I'm not sure because it was the only fish I caught in the creek. I would like to target them but I'm not really sure where to start. Would they be in the lower reaches of brookie streams? Should I still use dries or should I go underneath? The 3 I did catch were subsurface. Are they more spooky than brooks(maybe thats why I'm not catchin them?)? I'll probably be fishin in NW PA so no spring creeks, all freestoners.


Strike success. They just hit differently. Browns will rise sip and submerge and hold a fly without setting themselves.

Posted on: 2011/9/17 1:36


Re: Wild Browns

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Like Chaz I've seen many streams shifting towards more brookies, and less browns on the freestone streams.

PCRay reports seeing the opposite shift.

The PFBC has loads of data from electrofishing surveys, dating from the late 1970s to the present. I wonder if they're seeing a clear trend one way or the other on the freestoners.

Posted on: 2011/9/17 18:37


Re: Wild Browns

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Interesting. My obervations, mostly in NW PA, are that streams where I never turned up browns for the last 15 years, now occasionally turn up browns. Streams that always turned up a few but were dominated by brookies, now it's no so clear which species dominates. And some streams that were too acidic for any fish, now have a handful of brookies.

A lot of those NW streams, with lower gradients, are perhaps better suited to browns. It's also the area of the state with historically the highest acid deposition rates. So this very easily could be region specific. I have not noticed a warming trend with water temps, and the watersheds are still pretty much pure forest. But I don't have near enough data to reliably say the water temps have or haven't changed.

I also fish central PA and now eastern PA a lot, and likewise, I catch my share of browns in streams that are supposed to be mainly brookies. But my history in these streams is too short to say that anything has really changed there. I can say that in one case, the lower half is nearly all browns, with a break point, above which it's mostly brookies and a few browns. The break point noticably moved upstream about a half mile this year compared to last. But for all I know, it wobbles back and forth every year. That one could be based on water temps.

Afish, there's a system in NW PA that has all 3 species intermixed. I fish the main stem and 2 of the tribs, though I'm sure there's several other tribs too. Each spot is different. But by biomass, rainbows dominate more area than either browns or brookies, with one stretch reaching class A rainbow status. You definitely get segregation within the streams, though. Rainbows dominating the pocket water, browns dominating the bigger (slow) pools, and brookies dominating the headwaters.

Posted on: 2011/9/19 9:47


Re: Wild Browns

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2011/5/3 12:22
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Can't say with any certainty one way or the other as to whether Browns or Brooks are expanding/retracting in terms of their ranges, but it's definitely an interesting discussion. I'll agree with pcray and I think it's pretty well documented that in water that's suitable to both (temp, PH, etc), and where both are present, Browns tend to dominate and eventually drive Brookie populations down.

I will say this...I rarely, if ever find a Brookie in a place that I don't expect one. Browns turn up in all kinds of unexpected places though.

I usually try to take Mondays off in the Fall to fish (and stay up and watch Sunday night football) and I hit a small/headwater, infertile SC "Brookie" stream today. I did catch a few Brookies...and this guy...




Attach file:



jpg  09-19-11 003.jpg (31.41 KB)
5058_4e77ca8053c84.jpg 423X317 px

Posted on: 2011/9/19 19:06


Re: Wild Browns

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2006/12/13 9:28
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Quote:

pcray1231 wrote:
Yeah, brookies handle acidic waters the best. What I'm not sure of, is whether its the fish that handle them better, or the eggs. My impression is the latter because travelling browns seem to do just fine, but they can't establish strong populations.



I think it is a little of both. I don't remember the numbers, but brook trout do not reproduce in PH below a certain number, but can survive in much lower PH. This explains why many of the streams in and around the ANF are only stocked with brook trout.

The same is probably true with brown trout, but both numbers are probably a little higher.

Here is something anecdotal (probably not the best word, but I'm going with it).

At my little brother's last place he had a spring next to his house. He put in a large galvanized tank or trough. What he would do is catch trout in the local stocked stream and bring them home alive and put them in the tank to keep fresh until he was ready to eat them. At first he only brought home brook trout because that is what was mostly stocked. this worked well. Well, he eventually brought home the occasional brown trout (on a couple occasions). Every one died within a half hour, so he had to clean and either eat or freeze them. But the brook trout survived as long as the water was flowing. True story. We surmised that it was due to acid content. all the springs along there were on the acidic side.

Posted on: 2011/9/20 12:26
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