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'Evaluating' Limestone Springs

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2011/7/2 10:55
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Question for anyone who has any experience or knowledge exploring anonymous or unnamed limestone springs -

I'm spending all week at my parents with a good bit of free time, and have started to become more interested in some of the springs within a short distance of our place. I'm very curious as to the likelihood of them holding a detectable population of trout of any species.

Most of them are about a third to two-thirds the size of the letort or falling springs. Some originate from a swampy pond, others a few small runs out of spring houses. They all run into streams that are stocked with trout at least somewhere, if not right at the confluence. All are heavy with water cress and the like on their upper reaches. Most are in danger of farm runoff on at least part of their stretch, one being isolated on it's upper eighth mile or so from much I think- Ive never seen them muddy. The lower stretches are definitely not great lookin in the hottest months but always flowin. Cannot say how much bug activity I've ever witnessed. Have limited access to the actual streams.

I know there are many other factors that determine viability, but can anyone say based on experience how often they've found something in these types of places? I have enough loose connections w some of the landowners to try it out but they could very well think I was insane (not a stretch in the first place).

Better wrap it up - any opinions or experiences are appreciated!

Thanks!


Posted on: 2011/12/28 17:53


Re: 'Evaluating' Limestone Springs

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Like you said, there are a lot of factors that effect fish viability. I'm more of a freestone spring guy than a limestone spring, but there are members here who get into that kind of thing. It certainly sounds like you know of a few decent sized limestone springs, and generally, yes, I'd say the likelihood of them harboring wild trout is pretty high.

Most of those little streams actually have names of some sort, and you could cross-reference them with the PFBC "streams which support natural reproduction" list. That wouldn't be a make or break determinant, lots of streams have trout that aren't on the list, and some that are on it likely no longer have fish or maybe not in the section your interested in. But, if most are on the list, it's a nice confidence booster that you're onto something.

But I'd encourage you to explore. People thinking you're insane is part of the draw. Quirkiness defines us! You'll find: a few complete duds, a lot of "nothing to write home abouts", and the occasional true, hidden gem.

Posted on: 2011/12/28 18:03


Re: 'Evaluating' Limestone Springs

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That was one thing I didn't mention - these are not on the natural repro list. I'm from a county that I would expect to have more on the list than there actually are, whether justified anywhere but my own mind, since I have little evidence to back it up. Knowing how complete that list may or may not be could fuel my opinion. If someone on here could definitively say it is by no means a 99% conclusive list for the state, I'd like my chances a lot better. I figure if nothing else there'd have to be some sojourners that make their way to the head in the hot months perhaps. At any rate, I might just have to give them a try in the spring, if the landowner has no insight. Even the cows might give me funny looks.

And it makes me think of another question, if wild fish, what species is most likely found, brook, brown? Since they aren't mountain freestoners I assume brookies aren't necessarily the likeliest. Again, not sure if that's the case. Ha, it would be chubs I guess.

Posted on: 2011/12/28 18:25


Re: 'Evaluating' Limestone Springs

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Quote:

Broad_Top wrote:
If someone on here could definitively say it is by no means a 99% conclusive list for the state, I'd like my chances a lot better.


The natural repo list is nowhere near complete IMO. Nor is it always a reliable way to find a fishable population of trout.

This past fall I fished two freestoners that weren't on the list and caught wild browns and brookies. I also fished a few that were on the list and caught and saw nothing. The list is a great start, but it only tells you about streams that have been surveyed and even then it only tells you that there were at least a few wild trout at that time.

Kev

Posted on: 2011/12/28 18:58


Re: 'Evaluating' Limestone Springs

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Quote:

Broad_Top wrote:
That was one thing I didn't mention - these are not on the natural repro list. I'm from a county that I would expect to have more on the list than there actually are, whether justified anywhere but my own mind, since I have little evidence to back it up. Knowing how complete that list may or may not be could fuel my opinion. If someone on here could definitively say it is by no means a 99% conclusive list for the state, I'd like my chances a lot better. I figure if nothing else there'd have to be some sojourners that make their way to the head in the hot months perhaps. At any rate, I might just have to give them a try in the spring, if the landowner has no insight. Even the cows might give me funny looks.

And it makes me think of another question, if wild fish, what species is most likely found, brook, brown? Since they aren't mountain freestoners I assume brookies aren't necessarily the likeliest. Again, not sure if that's the case. Ha, it would be chubs I guess.


If you have springs that are in limestone belts, then you likely have yourself a limestone spring creek. This small stream will likely stay cool in the summer and "warm" in the winter. The calcium from limestone lends itself to the production of certain aquatic invertebrates. If there were historically no trout present yet they are tribs to stocked streams I can't imagine why fish would not have moved into the limestone spring creeks barring physical barrier. I can't really imagine a reason not to fish these or at a minimum walk the streams to see if you see or spoke any fish.

Note that there are certain criteria for natural reproduction list in that there has to be 'x' amount of fish biomass per mile (or whatever measure). Failure to include on natural reproduction list may mean they have not surveyed it or there simply was not enough fish biomass in the last survey to list as naturally reproducing.

Again, I can't see any reason not to explore this. I'd even be willing to help out. LOL.

Edit: Also, if you want to PM me the county I will check Armstrongs book on limestone streams broken down by county.

Posted on: 2011/12/28 19:06


Re: 'Evaluating' Limestone Springs

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Quote:

jdaddy wrote:

Note that there are certain criteria for natural reproduction list in that there has to be 'x' amount of fish biomass per mile (or whatever measure). Failure to include on natural reproduction list may mean they have not surveyed it or there simply was not enough fish biomass in the last survey to list as naturally reproducing.


That's true of streams rated by class (A, B, etc.), but I don't think that's the case with the natural repro list. If I recall correctly the surveyed stream only needs to have multiple year classes turn up in the survey to make the list.

Kev

Posted on: 2011/12/28 19:15


Re: 'Evaluating' Limestone Springs

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2011/12/23 16:42
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I think the nat repo list includes streams where adult trout are present and at least one young of the year. I don't think there is a threshold beyond that.

Broad top, as Jdaddy suggested, just walking the stream might be your best bet, if you see fish darting you've got yourself a winner.

What county?? feel free to shoot a pm.

Posted on: 2011/12/28 19:21


Re: 'Evaluating' Limestone Springs

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Pennkev - that's funny I live half an hour down 79. Don't suppose those are near you?...and to think I go back home for most of my fishing excursions...

Jdaddy - one in particular does get a stocking in a lower reach which I hadn't mentioned. It's probably safe to assume there are fish that have moved into what I believe to be the higher quality section (above crop fields). I guess my biggest curiosity is whether anything has been successful at reproduction. And I've passed by this stream all my life but can't recall a particular bug hatch, although my perception of this stream had only been colored by the passion the last few years. I'd probably need permission for the spot I'd want to examine for invertebrates, which is a pasture with few enough heifers that it's actually pretty well vegetated. What information does the Armstrong book provide? I think I've heard it mentioned here. Might be worth a look.

Posted on: 2011/12/28 19:36


Re: 'Evaluating' Limestone Springs

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Quote:

Broad_Top wrote:
Pennkev - that's funny I live half an hour down 79. Don't suppose those are near you?...and to think I go back home for most of my fishing excursions...


In this case all the streams I'm thinking of are north and east of the I-79/I-80 intersection. However, I've had similiar experiences farther south and farther west.

Kev

Posted on: 2011/12/28 19:57


Re: 'Evaluating' Limestone Springs

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Jdaddy mentioned Armstrong's book on PA limestone streams. I am sure it is not comprehensive, but the author explored a lot of small limestoners around the state, including many he found to be marginal or dead, and results are reported by county. You should consider taking up Jdaddy's PM offer or even buying a copy yourself. As with any book like that, but I think particularly so in this case, the reports appear to be based on just one or two visits, often in suboptimal conditions, but it is something to go on.

Posted on: 2011/12/29 10:20


Re: 'Evaluating' Limestone Springs

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FWIW, I'd call the PFBC list 90% complete. Meaning if it actually has a reproducing population, there's probably a 90% chance it's on the list. But FWIW, I no longer have any streams I know of that remain off of the list. I had a few, but they all got picked up in recent years.

Now, the few that remain off the list probably wouldn't be that hard to track down. For one, you stand a much better chance outside of the Marcellus Shale region, as they made a concerted effort to identify the remaining streams in those areas in order to protect them. Also, being bigger, or on public land, likely increases the chances it was surveyed. Tiny streams on private land are most likely to escape notice. Which, sounds exactly like what you've got!

Posted on: 2011/12/29 11:15


Re: 'Evaluating' Limestone Springs

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Pcray, personally I wouldn't put the percentage that high, but that's just based on the few counties I know well. For example, Chester County has at least 9 wild trout streams that are not on the list (although the FBC knows about most of them). There are 16 on the list. 16 out of 25+ is (potentially less than) 64%. And this is in SE PA where you would think they would have to have been surveyed at some point.

However if you meant 90% of stream miles are on the list, I would agree, like you said the streams that are missing tend to be the smallest ones.

Posted on: 2011/12/29 11:35
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Re: 'Evaluating' Limestone Springs

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Good discussion guys. They are definitely out of Marcellus range, and all on private land. I think you managed to answer my question about the natural repro list - I guess I'll have to do some nosing around. I think the degree to which the agriculture might effect these streams is the biggest outlier. Only way to rule it out is to find the fish, at that point.

Posted on: 2011/12/29 17:48


Re: 'Evaluating' Limestone Springs

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Be careful when using Armstrong's book, even though he seemed to be trying to do a good thing by donating his proceeds to TU. He included at least two local freestone streams, Canoe Creek and the Little Bald Eagle, in the book; they are certainly not limestone streams. There may be numerous others included of which I am not aware.

Posted on: 2011/12/29 18:00


Re: 'Evaluating' Limestone Springs
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Are those not even hybrids, rich? As I recall from a quick read, limestone influence was his criterion. But I can be as wrong as usual in recalling that.

Posted on: 2011/12/29 18:06
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