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Re: Home Stream in Trouble

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FDave: What else would remove most adults (and what is more likely to do so in Pa ST streams)? Weak year class (or classes) four to five years prior. That is even more true in streams that get "ripped" by stormwater. Growth rates of fish in the next good year class can be enhanced by the lack of competition. If there is fair to good adult habitat, very good numbers of seven to eight inch, as well as occasional nine inchers can appear, but these ripped streams seldom have an abundance of such habitat.

Troutbert: Large woody debris are uncommon in SE Pa small trout streams. Such debris are accounted for in a category of the index of biotic integrity records from each sampling site, and I can tell you that they rarely contribute to the index in the SE. Our riparian trees are generally species that are deeply rooted or do not easily shed large branches. Where we have hemlock it is a different story.

Posted on: 2014/8/27 20:29

Edited by Mike on 2014/8/27 21:05:43


Re: Home Stream in Trouble

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Quote:
Mike wrote: Troutbert: Large woody debris are uncommon in SE Pa small trout streams.
That's the problem. The natural condition is large amounts of LWD. The LWD amounts are low now because of past management practices. And that explains much of what's shown in those photos. With normal amounts of LWD the stream structure would be totally different. LWD amounts can be built up again by good management practices.

Posted on: 2014/8/27 21:21


Re: Home Stream in Trouble

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The watershed is heavily forested along the creek and steep valley slopes with houses on the ridge tops and some hillsides. Most LWD that ends up in the stream gets blasted up onto the bank by floods, so during low water the logs that could make great habitat are perched 2-3 feet higher than the water level.

Mike, do you think that holds true (bad year class/growth rates) even when the trout have always grown pretty large for the size of the stream here? I can't think of a year that I failed to catch a 10" brookie here. my best was 11" in 2010. Didn't seem to matter how many adult fish there were, they always got big and fat by freestone brookie standards. After two years in the stream they reach about 6.5-7.5". Everything you said makes sense but I think if it was a bad year class it would be the one about 3 years ago. And for about 4 years in a row, the upper part of the stream has seemed to have lost nearly all of the adult brookies, while the lower half had good numbers of 7-9" fish in 2012 and has not come close in 2013 or this year.

I explored far up a tributary today that somehow, in all my years fishing here, I never checked out more than about 100 ft up from the mouth. It is a trickle that shows signs of a massive stormwater blowout problem. I did find about a dozen YOY brookies scattered all the way up to the very headwaters where the deep pools were about a foot wide, 2' long, and 3 inches deep. Pics to come tomorrow when I have time to upload them.

Posted on: 2014/8/28 0:38
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Re: Home Stream in Trouble

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2006/12/13 9:28
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Quote:

Mike wrote:
FDave: What else would remove most adults (and what is more likely to do so in Pa ST streams)? Weak year class (or classes) four to five years prior. That is even more true in streams that get "ripped" by stormwater. Growth rates of fish in the next good year class can be enhanced by the lack of competition. If there is fair to good adult habitat, very good numbers of seven to eight inch, as well as occasional nine inchers can appear, but these ripped streams seldom have an abundance of such habitat.



That makes sense and the stream definitely does show sings of being "ripped."

I'd still think there would be larger numbers of 7 to 9 inch fish, but with all the undercuts, they could be there.

Posted on: 2014/8/28 5:59
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Re: Home Stream in Trouble

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Extracted from the draft report (2012 survey):

The instream habitat was comprised of short to long, shallow riffles, pocket pools, and long pools at bends up to 0.5 m in depth. Cover was provided by undercut tree roots and pool depth. The stream substrate consisted primarily of cobble, gravel, and sand with some bedrock and boulder. The stream suffers from high stormwater flows which have caused heavy bank erosion. The RBP analysis yielded a relatively low final score of 119, indicating sub-optimal habitat conditions.

The presence of multiple year classes of wild brook trout in the UNT , including young-of-the-year, verifies that this stream supports the natural reproduction of trout as outlined in Pennsylvania Code, Title 58, Chapter 57, Subchapter A, §57.11. The abundance of legal-size brook trout (80 trout/mi) was between the 75th and 90th percentiles for legal size brook trout in Pennsylvania’s wild brook trout streams.


Posted on: 2014/8/28 12:28


Re: Home Stream in Trouble

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Thanks Mike! good info and the habitat analysis is spot-on. However I disagree that there are 80 legal size trout per mile, not in the past two years anyway. If that is based on surveying part of the stream and making an estimate based on that, I can see how that number could make sense. It may not have covered the sections that are channelized along the road with very few adult trout. And in 2012, the number in the lower mile or so (below the last road crossing) was significantly higher than what it has been the past two years.

If they did survey the entire length of stream and found 80/mi...then I am just not very good at spooking fish!!

Posted on: 2014/8/28 12:42
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Re: Home Stream in Trouble

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Here are a few pics of the tributary I explored yesterday. It looks like the runoff cut a channel along an old sewer line (old=no longer used). The headwaters of the trib start in that channel but then seep through to the natural channel which is lower elevation and parallels it. So the storm runoff is confined to the unnatural channel along the old sewer line, and it seems this is actually protecting the natural channel of the tributary. However, the main creek still gets hit with all of that runoff (and this is downstream of the last set of pictures I posted, so you can imagine the combined runoff effect is worse below this tributary).

I found YOY brookies and dace all the way up, some 4" long. The was one in the pool in "trib1a" and two in 1c.

Attach file:



jpg  trib1a.JPG (60.76 KB)
7984_53ff5fa15a934.jpg 353X526 px

jpg  trib1b.JPG (57.85 KB)
7984_53ff5fadb2c7a.jpg 389X529 px

jpg  trib1c.JPG (125.19 KB)
7984_53ff5fb9ab10b.jpg 802X518 px

jpg  trib1d.JPG (64.77 KB)
7984_53ff5fc6b3590.jpg 420X531 px

Posted on: 2014/8/28 12:59


Re: Home Stream in Trouble

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Quote:

sarce wrote:

It may not have covered the sections that are channelized along the road with very few adult trout.


Another impact revealed. A very common, and often severe one.

But there are ways of dealing with impact of the road and related channelization.

Roads can be relocated out of the floodplain. And the current road grade removed, and colonized with vegetation.

Posted on: 2014/8/28 13:31


Re: Home Stream in Trouble

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That would be ideal but not practical here. there's nowhere to move the road to. And it would cost a ton of money compared to the smaller-scale stuff that could prove just as beneficial. It could be possible to move the stream away from the road in a few places...would take a lot of work but it's doable. IMO some artificial plunge pools are the short-term answer in the channelized areas.

Posted on: 2014/8/28 14:44
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Re: Home Stream in Trouble

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I was home this past weekend and got to spend a few minutes walking the creek while running errands. Walked about 200 yds, did not see any obvious redds or adult fish but I didn't have time to check out some better areas. I also don't know when these fish spawn. Typically i havent been home at that time of year to check it out. Could have spawned weeks ago.

Did see some YOY and one appeared to be approaching 5" in length. There were definitely fewer than this summer but I am assuming that's natural as they grow and compete with each other.

Fingers crossed that there are no major floods this winter. If there are none it will be interesting to see how much the population bounces back next year.

Posted on: 2014/11/11 11:26
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Re: Home Stream in Trouble

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2014/7/2 2:20
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Chaz is correct. Also, getting the local TU chapter involved would be a big help. If they don't have the resources for protection by themselves, they sure know who the right partners. Wild brookie streams in SE PA are pretty special.

Posted on: 2014/11/17 0:22
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Re: Home Stream in Trouble

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2006/9/13 10:18
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What about the use of fertilizers pest controls and weed control, all of these contribute to reduced production of wild trout and invertebrates.
The run-off is a big deal though especially where there is no LWD. The side channels aren't usually a problem though everyone want to block them they provide refuge for YOY trout and juveniles.

Posted on: 2014/11/18 17:27
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Re: Home Stream in Trouble

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An update to this old thread:

First of all, I was never really able to follow through on any of these ideas. I moved out of the area for work and simply didn't have the time. I don't know if I ever will, but I do truly appreciate those of you who read this before and offered support.

I was home visiting family this past weekend and was able to sneak out to this creek for about 2 hrs on Easter Sunday (yesterday). The physical habitat in the stream is still in very rough shape, but I am happy to report the strong year class I observed at the time of the OP has survived well and seemingly adjusted to the shallower pools. I caught and saw a lot of 4-7" brookies, most appeared well fed. Food has never been the issue here though.

Although the stream is almost unrecognizable in some parts, I am very impressed at the resiliency of these fish. Obviously, the major floods from a few years ago took a big initial hit, but much of the stream seems to be recovering. The upper part was only slightly improved in terms of numbers of fish, but the lower part was looking good with multiple fish in each pool. That may change this summer, we are likely heading for a hot and dry summer which will make things a bit cramped for these trout, but there are enough now that the population should be alright in the end.

The habitat is still a mess overall. Essentially, over the last 2-3 years, an extra half foot or more of sediment has been dumped in nearly the entire length of the stream, especially below one tributary. There are a few improved areas however, with new logjams creating a couple plunge pools. It may be just enough to offset the complete loss of other pools to sedimentation. The problem in the recent past has been that these log jams get blown out before the plunge pools fully form. Given another year without another blowout flood, things could get pretty good once again. Time will tell...I am hopeful.

Yesterday I realized that I really should have been paying attention to the one problem tributary all along. It was obvious that this trib is just dumping an incredible amount of silt and gravel into the stream. It drains a very steep valley along an old sewer line, then blows over the gravel road, taking chunks of roadway with it, and that all ends up in the main stream. If that could be controlled, it would help tremendously. The rest of the watershed, while it is "flashy", probably isn't about to cause a catastrophic sediment dump like this one tributary seems to be attempting to do.

May have a few pics later

Posted on: 2016/3/28 19:47
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Re: Home Stream in Trouble

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Bad news to report here. I paid this little stream a visit yesterday morning, and I think the population is effectively dead. I walked and "fished" a mile and a half of the stream, and observed a grand total of 2 adult brookies. I did not see a single YOY. Despite the awesome 2014 year class, last year's spawn appears to have been a complete failure.

Before anyone says I missed the fish or they were hiding, well, that's the problem - the sediment load is so insane now that there are few places left for a trout to hide. Pools that were present in 2014 when I started this thread are completely filled in.

The stream has become completely unstable and I think it would take millions of dollars to fix the causes of the problem, which at this point I would pin on bad stormwater management, not all of it recent. Water temp was 66 which is pretty good for August.

I am curious if a PFBC survey would turn up more than I found. There are some private driveway pools that might still hold a couple fish, here's hoping that's true.

Posted on: 8/21 13:56
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Re: Home Stream in Trouble

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Technically you need to file a gp 3 with dep for stream habitat work. Approval from fish and boat is required.



Posted on: 9/7 21:41



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