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Big Springs Need help

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2008/3/20 16:37
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Just received this the other day. If you love Big Springs then you need to act now.

" BIG SPRING CONTROVERSY
In September of 2010 a habitat improvement project somewhat over 2,000 feet long was completed on a stretch of Big Spring Creek, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Partners in the project were the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, Big Spring Watershed Association, and Cumberland Valley Chapter, Trout Unlimited. Stated and agreed upon goal of Partners was to enhance the existing wild trout fishery consisting primarily of brook and rainbow trout, with an attempt to favor brook trout. By most standards the project is considered to be hugely successful, brook trout numbers in the project reach having more than doubled in only eleven months.
Now a very small but vocal group wants to have all stream-bred rainbow trout in Big Spring removed in favor of a brook trout population that is quite likely not even the pure native strain. New fishery management options have been forwarded to the Executive Director, PF&BC, who is reportedly seriously considering them. There is but a very short time to make your feelings on management of Big Spring known! Write to Mr. John Arway, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission 1601 Elmerton Ave. P.O. Box 67000 Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000. E-mail Mr. Arway at jarway@pa.gov."

Posted on: 2012/8/3 16:59


Re: Big Springs Need help

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Sorrry guys. Posted under the worng thing. Thought I hit conservation. Just got off the stream and then two hungry kids. Guys feel free to move.

Posted on: 2012/8/3 17:24


Re: Big Springs Need help
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Interesting: I am generally against extirpation efforts, but I do favor letting the non-desired species be harvested while protecting the other. I understand the point about a technically non-native strain of brookies, but there is something intriguing about a limestoner dominated by brookies even just PFBC strain.

Posted on: 2012/8/3 17:45
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Re: Big Springs Need help
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(Moved)

Okay.....it was only a matter of time before this topic hit the Paff forums. I should point out in the interest of full disclosure that I am a board member of Cumberland Valley Trout Unlimited and am, as such, knee deep in this issue. What follows are my personal views/opinions and do not reflect the official position of CVTU.

This issue is much in flux and where things are headed remains to be seen. Those of you who have long read these forums know that the management of Big Spring - and the 2010 restoration project in particular - has been controversial with our board members. Just speaking for myself, I have written many thousands of words here on Paff (and elsewhere) on the topic and am frankly weary of the subject. For those of you new to the forum and not familiar with this issue, a site search will bring up enough stuff to keep you reading for many hours. I have fished BS for thirty years and love this stream as much as anyone. In short, I am a staunch fan of the restoration project and consider it an unqualified success. Studies completed by the PFBC in 2011 reveal that brook trout biomass in this restored section doubled (in only 11 months!). However, rainbow trout biomass improved at an even higher rate (about 3-4 fold). The purpose of the restoration, among other things, was to slow and deepen the channel so as to more closely match the habitat preferred by brookies. If you're not aware, BS is famous for its wild brook trout. Recently the large number of rainbows has convinced some individuals and organizations (many of whom are personal friends of mine) to seek the removal of the rainbows from this section of the creek and presumably the entire fly fishing section, and their transfer downstream below a dam or to another watershed. Exactly how and when this would be done is unclear. Rumors are rampant.
My personal view is that removal of these 'bows from the fly fishing section is unnecessary at this time since there is no current evidence that they are impeding the growth of brook trout in BS (remember, brookie numbers have been verified to be increasing as well). I love the brook trout of BS and would certainly consider supporting the removal of rainbows if I thought it was necessary to get the brookies back. Efforts have been made in the past on BS to segregate rainbows. I might favor such a policy but - as it stands now with the excellent fishing for both wild brooks and bows - I vote to leave the rainbows alone. They're beautiful wild fish and grow to great sizes in BS. In the future, maybe we could take some out or try to build a new barrier (I've discussed this at length with folks in the know on the topic). If you're a fan of BS, by all means contact the Executive Director at the link above and voice your opinion. Should the rainbows be removed from the flyfishing section of Big Spring? I personally don't think so.......but your opinion matters. Let John Arway know what you think.

Posted on: 2012/8/3 17:52


Re: Big Springs Need help

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I knew it would make a "stink". A "CVTU" member sent me the e-mail and e is not happy with this. Neither am I. Here at FSTU we praised the work and love what is and will be done. Why would you take and possibly destroy a full blown wild trout fishery.

I don't know and it is a shame, but the PFBC does own the stream from what I gather.

Mike

Posted on: 2012/8/3 20:09


Re: Big Springs Need help

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2006/9/13 10:18
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IMHO, PFBC made the mistake years ago when they failed to remove the bows after closing the hatchery. They were to "restore" the stream to it's condition before the hatchery was built. At least that is my understanding as I have followed this for years.

Anyway I believe now it is too late and unless PFBC removes the upper dam completely the brookies probably have no chance of surviving and expanding their range. Otherwise the brookie population is doomed, save for one thing, fall spawning favors brookies over bows. Brookies mouths are larger than bows, so that may be an advantage, but I've never read that.

I'd like nothing more than to be able to go to Big Spring and not have to fight off the stupid rainbow trout to catch the brookies, but the bows won't ignore anything, everything I cast to fish in Big Spring is attacked by the bows. I don't know if I'll ever go back, I've no interest in catching the bows, if I did I'd fish the places closer to home that have bows.
It's like going out west, when I go out west I have no interest in fishing over trout that aren't supposed to be there. Just MHO and my preference.

Posted on: 2012/8/3 21:39
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Re: Big Springs Need help

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Fishidiot
Great post, I am with you on your views.However i have never fished this stream. I also agree strongly with Chaz.As for individuals worried about strains.....starins schmains..they are long gone.But Brook trout as a species is not.I am all for reducing the rainbows poplualtions a lil bit . But to get rid of them entirely is foolhardy.From what Fishidiot has said there are two species of trout doing pretty darn well after all this work is done.Why not "CATCH AND RELEASE" a portion of rainbows to lower the population? You wouldnt be extirpating them at the same time if a guy like my self or Chaz or anyone else for that matter came to fish Big Springs they could have a more ample chance at Brook Trout.
Remember one thing this stream had great reputation because of the Brook Trout at one time an i understand that that was the reason for doing this work in the first place.Its a bonus to have wild reproducing Rainbows in Pa. I say just cut it back on the Rainbow population a whisker maybe even take some to add to the current hatchery stock to add a few "wild genes " to the pool,or take the excess rainbows an move a few else where to a watershed that has great tribs or places the rainbows will fare well.
Remember Brook Trout are indigenous to Pennsylvania....Brown Trout and Rainbows are not.

Posted on: 2012/8/4 23:31


Re: Big Springs Need help

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I really don't have much of an opinion on this.

I love brookie fishing. But it's not the fish themselves as much as the places I associate with them. Small, remote, infertile headwater streams. Catching a 12" brookie out of a heavily pressured limestoner gives me no more, and no less pleasure than catching a 12" brown out of such a place.

I guess there's a bit of a novelty factor, brookies in an environment usually dominated by browns, but there's a novelty factor with rainbows too.

And if you can't show that it's a heritage strain, then while brookies don't have nearly the range they once did, they're far from "endangered." I'd have trouble justifying killing off the bows. But ultimately, I'll stay out of the fray and let those closer to the stream make the decision.


Posted on: 2012/8/6 14:02


Re: Big Springs Need help

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If the growth of the brookie population in BS is not being hindered, then I'm w/ FI on this one as well. Last time I was at BS (in January), many brook trout were caught (...not by me....but by Sal), and many bows as well. However, the first bow was not taken until at least 2 hours into our trip, and by that point several brookies were caught. This was in the restoration area.

Posted on: 2012/8/6 15:21


Re: Big Springs Need help

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For what it is worth is is a great project and hope more work is done up and down the stream. Should be with the $600.000 I heard had come in.

Still reproducing trout is a great thing and why threaten that. I was guiding up there Sunday and is was not "Stupid" rainbows but brook trout that made my client bored. We had one brook take a fly three times. I fine the rainbows to be for picky than the brooks myself. I guess we have our own opinions.

Hey we did some great work on Falling Springs today and that does favor rainbows.
Mike

Posted on: 2012/8/6 19:11


Re: Big Springs Need help

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Who is the PFBC biologist for the area and what is his opinion?

Posted on: 2012/8/7 8:31


Re: Big Springs Need help
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Quote:

franklin wrote:
Who is the PFBC biologist for the area and what is his opinion?


He's closely involved in this unfolding drama and will continue to study the stream iot provide data for management decisions. I've discussed the topic at length with him and I'm sure his personal opinion/recommendations have been sent up through channels. Ultimately, this decision will be made by the Executive Director.

Again, I'd ask for some patience on this matter. A few too many rumors and speculation are floating around in the fly fishing community. I'd like to reiterate: contact Mr Arway with your personal views as nothing is set in stone at this time.

Posted on: 2012/8/7 9:00


Re: Big Springs Need help

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We should be able to give our opinions about the future management of this stream without resorting to personal attacks.

I sent my views to the PFBC. For what it's worth:

I think they should manage the upper end for brook trout. Whether that means from Nealy Rd up, or some shorter distance, I don't know.

I think they should put in a barrier. It shouldn't be so difficult to design a barrier that works. And if they come up with a good design, it would be a contribution to fisheries management.

Even if a few fish get past it, they could electrofish it once every year or two and remove the non-brookies. It's not necessary to have zero non-brookies, just to keep their numbers low, so the brookies can thrive.

And I recommended that they extend wild trout management (no stocking, no kill or low kill) further downstream. It's a limestone spring creek. Comparing it with other PA limestone spring creeks makes it evident that it should be able to support a good wild trout population for miles downstream. With the right management I think it would.

Below the barrier, the fishery could be managed for whatever wild trout do best, which would probably end up being a mix of rainbows and browns.

So, you'd have the brookie population in the upper end, and big rainbows and browns further down.

Posted on: 2012/8/7 18:07


Re: Big Springs Need help

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I echo Dave's comments but will add:

The stream needs to be studied far more than it already has been before anyone should be making any claims.

-It is possible many fished moved into the restored area from up and downstream areas.

-Is this population burst an unnatural condition that sometimes happens after a restoration?

-Will the size and population of brookies grow with the absence of rainbows?

-Will future restorations have the same effect on the population structure of the trout?

These are just a few of many questions that should be answered.
Its too early to go jumping the gun on anything.
I sent my concerns and comments anyway.

Posted on: 2012/8/8 0:12
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Re: Big Springs Need help

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Why was my prior post deleted? It wasn’t a personal attack but rather pointing out that observations made by others who have credibility on this stream were the same observations I made a year later yet my observations were then dismissed as not credible.

I don't know, the deletion of my prior post just further confirms that the agenda of the PFBC and CVTU is to make the period of 2001 to 2010 vanish from history.

The one major big gripe I have with CVTU and the PFBC is the apparent misinformation campaign. An example is with the average stream channel velocity. The CVTU and PFBC are promoting that the stream’s average channel velocity has been reduced and how slower velocities favor brook trout so obviously the work favors the brook trout. At face value this is absolutely true however it is completely false and misleading and the design contributes to the reason why the bows are outpacing the brooks in the restored area.

The reason is simple - the brook trout in Big Spring did not live in the main current but well off on the sides under the weed beds and inside the rock walls in almost stagnant water utilizing upwellings and downwellings. And this is exactly why most folks who fished Big Spring pre-restoration swore there were no fish because the trout didn’t live in the open water they were hiding 30 feet off the main current under the weeds.

So what the work did was take an “ugly looking stream” that was 50-75 feet wide with a small 20 foot wide main and somewhat shallow channel that flowed with an average velocity of say 4 mph with the brooks lived well off the main channel on the sides in the slow stagnant water and then filled in these slow stagnant waters in order to narrow and deepen the stream to a 30-40 feet wide uniform channel that now “looks good” and now flows at an average velocity of say 2mph and people say it helps the brook trout because the average channel velocity has slowed from 4mph to 2mph.

Sorry but that is completely wrong and misleading because the brook trout in Big Spring didn’t live in the main channel so they ARE NOT experiencing a reduction from 4mph to 2mph, which would help, but rather experiencing AN INCREASE from an ideal 1mph or less to 2mph and this increase now puts them at a competitive disadvantage against the bows and the data is supporting this. It is as simple as that yet nobody will admit it.

The bottom line is a small group of people with the CVTU simply wanted to make Big Spring a more easily fishable stream and the redesign has nothing to do with creating favorable habitat for the brook trout. That goal has been accomplished, as the stream is now a cascading series of artificial plunge pools with each plunge pool holding several trout, the water is turbulent, so it is easy to walk up and drop a weighted red SJW on a thingamabobber and wait for it to go under.

As for removing the bows from Big Spring, while helping the brook trout to a certain degree because it will eliminate competition, it does not reverse the habitat back to the ideal habitat that previously existed. Unless you create optimum habitat for any species, you will not get optimum growth even if removing all competition for habitat. Until people realize that, any efforts at Big Spring to do anything will be a failure.

It’s time to leave the damn stream alone and let it be what it is going to be. History continues to show that the more people screw with this stream to “fix” one problem, they create others and the solution is to “fix” that problem, and it just keeps going. If the wild bows are removed from Big Spring who knows if the brook trout would even make it as a sustainable wild trout fishery. Wouldn’t that be just beautiful if the bows were removed and 5 years from now the brook trout fishery collapses because the stream’s new designed doesn’t support them and the solution is Big Spring becomes the heavily stocked fishing park that CVTU wanted 12 years ago. How ironic would that be?

And it’s also time for people to stop screwing with streams in general.

Posted on: 2012/8/8 14:21



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