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trout population and habitat

Joined:
2008/4/2 10:15
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I've very impressed with the conversation about pristine piedmont habitat. You guys are very smart!!

I've been thinking alot about stream habitat, fishing strategies and reading a good book from Tom Rosenbauer "prospecting for trout".

It makes me wonder a good bit about stream restoration. In the past I've always assumed that optimal trout habitat was a series of dark water plunge pools. Tom R's BIG point is that this is neither not neccesarily the perfect place to find trout (and certainly not the best place to catch trout)... trout use a variety of shallow water structure. Both in the Piedmont conversation and in others, the implication is that stream habitat needs deepened and de-channelized.

But a stream channel consisting of a large number of large rocks ("pocket water") seems to fit Tom's R perfect trout water. Consider there is flow, shallow water for aquatic life, small but low velocity holes and crevices. In short everything that a trout would need... from a public use point of view, strait rocky channels use minimal stream frontage and a heavily flood resistant (A BIG DEAL to adjacent land owners). I'm sure that this isn't the PERFECT trout water , not even for rainbows. But I don't understand why. and how do other factors come to play?? do biologically 'poor' streams need more stream habitat or is effort into plunge pools, etc wasted.

are plunge pools really the purpose of the stream restoration projects? Should I not really focus on the habitat of a biologically poor water and just seek to fish it as quickly as I can do so without being sloppy?? Generally, In the past I fished fast if at all to shallow water and Hunkered down in the plunge pools. Probably better for stockies, that aren't moving any time soon, and don't spook (easily).

If a poor stream is limited enough on food to just need a few rocks every once inawhile, I should just move fast instead of trying to figure out where the holes are, is this your strategy??

Part two
Stream population obviously varies by the richness of food. We can also assume a richer stream can allow for a greater creel. But stocking throws everything off for me. I'm not a high number angler and only caught 15 trout last year. with such a little harvest (sadly typical) I've always taken the opinion that the streams can afford to give up 15 stocked trout each year. But this year, I hope to fish more wild trout and have a few good ideas about increasing my catch.
(I've already caught 60 this winter (CR) on the allegheny)

I'm wondering given a certain population (1000 trout a mile) can a relatively poor stream (most are in warren county) afford to give out 25% a year? what is the catch rate on some of these trout streams?? I think catch rates must be very high on these waters, because you see so few in the summer. Despite decades of stocking, wild trout populations are minimal (and minimized) on heavily stocked streams.

So as I catch more, I intend to C&R some. I can only eat so much anyway. And If I move to nearby unstocked streams I definitly want to C&R some... but TOO not creel ANY? certainly the fishery can give some up..

Hope you can bear a new guy's really long post,
JASON

Posted on: 2008/4/2 11:23


Re: trout population and habitat

Joined:
2006/10/25 12:30
From York
Posts: 449
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Jason,

Welcome aboard. That's a good book to read but if you get Tom's "Reading a Trout Stream" (not exact title) it will answer alot of your questions you have about how to approach the different types of streams. (I also enjoy it more).

To give guidance on your second question, feel free to keep some trout, just keep in mind the size of the stream, how often it is fished, stoked or not and of course, the regulations. Only you can decided if you want to keep a couple of fish to eat.

Steve

Posted on: 2008/4/2 12:52
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Re: trout population and habitat
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2006/9/13 12:42
From Altoona, PA
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Yeah, that's a lot of questions! Good stuff though.

First off, Tom Rosenbauer is one of my favorite authors. I'd recommend anything you can find by him. He's done a long series for the Orvis flyfishing books, so there's a good bit out there. He did a book on reading trout water, that may answer a lot of questions about what is and what is not good trout water.

To your questions about good trout water... The ideal trout lie is a "feeding lie". That's a place where a trout is safe from predators but can find lots to eat. Generally though, trout will be where the food is. So if you see a hatch coming off at the head of the pool, fish there or in the riffle just upstream of it. If the spinners are hitting the middle of the pool, the trout will be under them. Nymphs often like the fastest water, where the food they eat is channeled (like a funnel). Although, it depends... some nymphs eat leaf litter that settles in the quiet water.

Plunge pools are good for trout, because they need a lot of oxygen (which is why they like cold water... oxygen dissolves better in cold water). Once the plunge pool introduces the oxygen, it stays in the water quiet a while. So trout may not necessarily be IN the plunge pool. Or if they are, the still water may make it harder to catch them.

My friend PaulG always looks for water with just a little riffling on it. The riffles obscure the fisherman and his line. Water that is absolutely still is like glass. They can see you right through it.

Stream restoration projects that I have been involved with have focused on controlling erosion. So rocks have been added to the stream that focuses the current into the center of the stream and thus, away from the banks. The effect is to allow the stream to run, without washing out the banks. With the high flows, you get scouring that clears silt out of the stream. And that is another benefit. This is a whole nother big discussion. If you want to know more about it, you might want to join a TU chapter or some other conservation organization and come out for a work day.

Stocking and wild trout populations are another popular discussion here. There is a famous study by Dr. Bob Bachman that was done on the trout in Spruce Creek. What was found is, that a stream can only carry a certain population. The wild trout (left alone) will fill that level. Variation occurs when good or bad conditions occur, but essentially, nature abhors a vaacuum. So you can assume that the wild trout are at the optimum holding capacity. When trout are stockend, the population goes above this capacity. At this point, trout will start to die off. Some will be creeled by anglers, some will be eaten by other predators but some will starve. Of these categories, both stocked and wild fish will be affected. So when the stocked trout are all removed (theoretically), the population of wild fish will be lower than it was before the stocking. It's unlikely that ALL the stocked trout will be removed, so some stocked trout may survive to the fall and spawn. This means that the genetic makeup of the streambred fish will be a hybrid of the wild trout and the stocked. Stocked trout are bred for factors other than survival... ability to grow fast, essentially. So the trout that result are a little less likely to survive and flourish. This is why many folks are so adamant that trout should not be stocked over wild populations. I'm a little less militant. I think you have think about what level the population is at. The state ranks trout streams as A.B.C & D. A is the best, and they already have policies against stocking these streams. I think more thought should be given to ending stocking on B streams, and ending fall stocking on B & C streams since these interfere with the spawn. But C & D streams are IMHO ideal for stocking. They are not ideal wild streams, but have acceptable habitat for trout. They can certainly hold trout through the Spring season and provide good recreation. And if left to their own, they would not be "great" wild trout streams.

Posted on: 2008/4/2 13:01
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Class ??

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ok but the class A, B, C, D trout populations seem confusing to me.

All i've seen on the internet relates states that the letters only state the density of the 'wild' trout biomass. Are environmental limitations like food / water temperature considered??

There is a WORLD of difference IMHO between a class 'C' trout population that is simply too warm in the summer and one that has been driven to submission by heavy stocking and astronomical opening day crowds...

How many class 'C /D' streams might respond to eliminated stocking and reduced harvest regs?? Also are there class B lists on the 'net??

now 'bout those restoration projects-- they seemed relevant to me.... How many Class C streams might take off if restoration eliminated the heavy Silt load?? (that I'm guessing is interfering with spawning)...

And how does stream richness play into this? Has biologist classified streams by aquatic biomass (trout food)?? Can I assume that A waters both have a lot of trout AND the food to support some harvest?

some of my stocking questions and general thoughts about harvest are widely discussed on the stock C and R thread.(with some fervor too)

thanks for the replies
Jason

Posted on: 2008/4/2 23:06


Re: trout population and habitat

Joined:
2006/9/11 13:05
From Lewistown
Posts: 3614
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The commis will not stop stocking, no matter how much we complain or would benefit the fish population, because they are a business who allocate funds from license sales. And a vast majority of license sales come the friday before opening day (if you get my drift -- drag-free by the way).

So they aren't conserned with pleasing us wild, catch and release type fisherpeople. Look at it from there point of view = lose money and interest in what they do to pacify a minority of "fishermen" (if you can actually be called that if you fish 2 days a year); just to increase wild trout popluations. Playing devils advocate here - you guys already have a ton of miles of wild trout water, which is increasing at rates that haven't been seen in the past (how many streams get added to the A list every year), what more do you want. If we allotted for wild trout streams to be proportionate to the number of wild trout fishermen, our chuck of "good" water is probably higher than the percentage of wild trout fishers compared to stocked trout and opening day fishers.

Personally, would I like to see stocking stopped on streams that could and do hold a good population of wild trout --- yeah! Is it going to happen -- isn't it already; just slowly.
I don't like when labeld class a sections are stocked over, this is rediculous and pointless, but I'm just 1 person against a crowd who like the opening day theme. I do feel that class b (streams with natural trout reproduction shouldn't be stocked either.

Streams that had or could have wild trout need better habitat and stream side foliage, not just stcoking stopped.

Posted on: 2008/4/3 8:03
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Re: Class ??
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Quote:
There is a WORLD of difference IMHO between a class 'C' trout population that is simply too warm in the summer and one that has been driven to submission by heavy stocking and astronomical opening day crowds...

How many class 'C /D' streams might respond to eliminated stocking and reduced harvest regs?? Also are there class B lists on the 'net??

now 'bout those restoration projects-- they seemed relevant to me.... How many Class C streams might take off if restoration eliminated the heavy Silt load?? (that I'm guessing is interfering with spawning)...

And how does stream richness play into this? Has biologist classified streams by aquatic biomass (trout food)?? Can I assume that A waters both have a lot of trout AND the food to support some harvest?


I don't put much hope in the thought that anyone (including sportsmen) would advocate for halting stocking in the hopethat the wild population might improve. It would be nice, but I don't see it happening.

I don't believe that the FBC makes decisions based on the benthic (trout food) population levels.

I think the best way to advocate for changes based on your criterion would be to become active in a TU chapter. When you find a stream that could be improved, you could enlist the chapter to help advocate for it.

Posted on: 2008/4/3 8:40
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Re: Class ??
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2006/9/9 19:16
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Quote:

jolie wrote:

are plunge pools really the purpose of the stream restoration projects?


Contemporary stream restoration techniques (ie; the use of structures that cause the plunge pools) are designed to give the stream a restricted path to allow for the regeneration of riparian buffers. These techniques or structures reconnect the stream with the flood plain where previously there were 3-6 ft banks straight up and down from the sheer stress of erosion. This condition eliminates half of the flood plain in a particular water course. Reconnecting the flood plain with the stream allows for water storage (reduced flooding to down stream areas) and reduced erosion (less siltation to downstream areas=improved spawning habitat). All the while providing the window of stability for the riparian vegetation to take a foot hold and provide the natural stability necessary to keep the stream within the reforested zone.

The immediate goal is to curb the erosion that is occuring at an alarming rate.

I wouldn't say that these structures are the purpose of stream restoration so much as they are the means to an end of reforestation of the flood plain.

As for plunge pools not being good habitat for trout, tak a look at the high gradient mountain streams where brookies thrive. Granted, the use of these "plunge pools" in restoration are not happening in the high gradient streams but consider that the plunge pool is only one feature in this method of restoration. What follows the plunge is a tail out or shallow flat before the next structure. The distribution of bedload caused by the structures keeps the gravels clean. And all the structures are not plunge pools, there are ones that generate swift runs with adjacent overhead cover and again tailouts and riffles where the stream is allowed to maintain grade on its own.

Maurice

Posted on: 2008/4/3 9:08
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