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Brook trout in Big Spring

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2009/5/26 8:36
From York & Starlight, PA
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Many years ago I read Marinaro's "A Modern Dry Fly Code" and in it he makes reference to the outstanding wild brook trout fishing in Big Spring and how anglers came from near and far to sample the amazing fishery.

Does anyone on the Forum have any historical data talking about the brook trout in Big Spring? Was it always an outstanding brook trout fishery? Was it good all through the early 20th century? When did it start to decline and when did it basically end? Thanks to anyone who may be able to shed some light on these questions.

Posted on: 1/2 17:15
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Re: Brook trout in Big Spring

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I cant answer some of your questions but...
It started to decline with the removal of the mill dams and the hatchery basically killed it.

The brook trout fishing is very good today. Not to the same level as back then before the mill dams were removed but it's pretty darn good today, so id say it didn't end

Posted on: 1/2 17:22
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Re: Brook trout in Big Spring
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I spent much of today walking Big Sring and counting redds and spawning brook trout (fish are spawning and the count was about the same as last year).

The short answers to your questions are:

Yes, it was (and is) and outstanding ST (brook trout) fishery. It's reputation for this goes back to the earty 1800s and prior. The reason it produced such good fishing was unique physical conditions including spring fed water with oxygen upwellings ideal for spawning.

This was enhanced by the fact that there were several mills on BS that produced a lot of dammed pools. These mills dated back to the mid 1700s. Only one mill is left today and the other dams are all gone or breached. The barrel factory from one of these mills is still standing (the stone house across the creek from the ditch parking lot). Due to this ponded effect, BS produced a lot of STs. The removal of the dams wrought a wide and very shallow stream bed in much of the upper section that lacked depth or structure.

Fish hatcheries further damaged the stream by mid twentieth century and the wild STs were limited to the very upper section in the period from about 1972-2001. In 2001, the PFBC closed its hatchery and BS has largely rebounded since then. This has also been helped by stream improvements that have produced more depth and cover.

BS is a great success story these days.

Posted on: 1/2 17:29


Re: Brook trout in Big Spring

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2010/6/9 12:35
From down the block from the Letort.
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Since it's balls cold outside right now, I'd recommend sitting down in a warm and cozy spot with Charlie Fox's two books, "Wonderful World of Trout" and "Rising Trout." Lots of good info about Big Spring's history in both...

Posted on: 1/2 19:32


Re: Brook trout in Big Spring

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2009/5/26 8:36
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Sal, Dave, and Tomi,

Thank you all for the very interesting data on the BS brook trout. I thought I knew all the lingo about trout fishing but you threw me for a loop with ST's! What the heck are ST's?

The mill ponds had depth and hence they provided ideal cover for not only good sized BT but from what I have read also very good numbers of them.

I will see if I can find a copy of those Charlie Fox books and take your advice about staying warm and reading them by the fire. I took a ride there last week for want of something better to do and kill a few hours. I had my rod and vest with me but it was so damn cold and windy that I just couldn't get up enough moxie to get out there and swim a few nymphs.

The water by the last parking lot downstream from the Ditch did have some appeal as it seemed there were some Vee dams in the water and rocks to enhance the fish carrying capacity. The fly water upstream from the all tackle water looks pretty barren and very shallow. I stopped by three places and didn't see a single minnow in the water. Not knowing the water maybe minnows are scarce but there is a lot of aquatic insect life.

How about this for a really large, not Canadian, wild brook trout?


Attach file:



jpg  Brookie9.jpg (129.97 KB)
2548_5a4c2c8f51201.jpg 720X960 px

Posted on: 1/2 19:54
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Re: Brook trout in Big Spring
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Quote:

wbranch wrote:
What the heck are ST's?

The water by the last parking lot downstream from the Ditch did have some appeal as it seemed there were some Vee dams in the water and rocks to enhance the fish carrying capacity.

Not knowing the water maybe minnows are scarce but there is a lot of aquatic insect life.


The abbreviation ST comes from "speckled trout" and is used by biologists to differentiate it from brown trout (BT). You see "ST" from time to time on this forum and it confuses a lot of folks.

The "V" dams you saw are the structural improvements put in the FFO section in 2010 and 2013.

The are some minnows of various species, including pearl dace and sticklebacks in BS. However, the main forage fish food source for larger trout in BS are sculpins (as is true throughout the CV streams). Also like other CV streams, the main macro-invertebrate food source for trout are scuds and cress bugs.

While it's always worth reading Fox and Marinaro, their books sometimes instill inflated expectations among CV newbies with respect to dry fly fishing opportunities. This often leads to disappointment when an angler first visits BS and Letort. You can certainly find hatches and dry fly fishing, but pickens are often pretty slim in this department. CV trout, as I often point out, are bottom feeders. You can fish BS and Letort for days and not see a rise. The fish really lay low in the weeds and are often not visible to cast to. It can be frustrating for someone more used to fishing in other waters where fish are visible and rise more.

Let me know if you're planning on another visit and I'll join you if I can. Would be happy to show you around.

Posted on: 1/2 21:20


Re: Brook trout in Big Spring

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Dave wrote;

Quote:
You can certainly find hatches and dry fly fishing, but pickens are often pretty slim in this department. CV trout, as I often point out, are bottom feeders. You can fish BS and Letort for days and not see a rise. The


It is interesting that you mention that because about 30 years ago when I read Marinaro's "Dry Fly Code" and "In the Ring of the Rise" I had just moved to York, PA. So I was excited to go to the Letort (even though I still considered the Delaware my "home" water) I was very dismayed to go there a couple of times and never saw a bug and a think in two visits I saw one rise. I have never seen a trout rise on BS even though I have fished there about half a dozen times.

I guess if I lived with half an hour of either water I might fish them more but since I prefer to fish only to rising fish I guess I will stick with the Delaware system.

Posted on: 1/2 22:40
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Re: Brook trout in Big Spring

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Quote:

wbranch wrote:
... I was very dismayed to go there a couple of times and never saw a bug and a think in two visits I saw one rise. I have never seen a trout rise on BS even though I have fished there about half a dozen times.


It's true that there aren't fish rising all the time in BS (and given the amount of scuds and cress bugs, why would they?), it's still possible to have good days there fishing dries. I've taken fish there on dries in every month of the year at one time or another, including some fairly large fish. There are almost always midges hatching sometime or another during the day every day, and there can be good olive hatches from time to time. There's also an autumn caddis hatch, that although small, seems to bring a lot of fish to the surface.

I fish there about once a month, and usually see at least a few rising fish every trip. Still, I don't go there counting on surface activity.

One of my favorite streams, and always interesting.

Posted on: 1/3 0:12
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Re: Brook trout in Big Spring

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I've seen "ST" thrown around on this forum before regarding Brook trout but I always thought it was for "spruce trout" as that is what people where I'm from call native brookies. Is spruce trout a common name for brook trout in other parts of the state?

Posted on: 1/3 6:34


Re: Brook trout in Big Spring

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I've seen the name "spruce trout" used to refer to the smaller natives that live in tribs & headwaters. That is opposed to natives in larger streams.

Posted on: 1/3 7:22


Re: Brook trout in Big Spring

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Interesting, now I always thought that the "ST" for brook trout stood for "square tails"

Posted on: 1/3 7:57
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Re: Brook trout in Big Spring

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ST = Small Trout (Brookies)
BT = Big Trout (Brownies)

Posted on: 1/3 8:54


Re: Brook trout in Big Spring

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ST = Stream trout
BT = Bavarian Turd

Posted on: 1/3 9:07
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Re: Brook trout in Big Spring

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2006/9/10 21:53
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SPECKLED?

Posted on: 1/3 9:36


Re: Brook trout in Big Spring
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Quote:

Swattie87 wrote:
ST = Small Trout (Brookies)
BT = Big Trout (Brownies)


Well played indeed.

Posted on: 1/3 10:35



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