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Re: "wild" rainbows

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2006/10/26 23:01
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Maybe brook trout are fragile becasue they are all decendents of weak stocked fish.

Posted on: 2009/6/23 17:11


Re: "wild" rainbows

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Last I knew, the brook trout question was a jump ball. But that's been a pretty fair number of years ago, before it became all holy to strive to restore native species and there was a lot less focus on the question at the time.

Here's what I recall though:

Long time ago, I did a piece for the Angler on "Our State Fish, The Brook Trout" and in the course of the needed interviews for the piece, I asked the PFBC Cold Water Unit Leader at the time (I think it was Tom Greene, but it may have been long ago enough that it was his predecessor, Marty Marcinko. Time slips away and memories all sort of blend together and I really don't remember who I talked to) whether there were still any of the original strain brook trout in PA streams. The answer I got was that they thought it likely, but did not really know. Another thing that sticks in my memory from the same or another conversation for the same piece was that in the aftermath of the logging era, there was a major infusion of brook trout obtained from Vermont and placed in PA streams to the extent that a lot of the fish we may assume are PA originals are actually the progeny of these VT fish.

At least that's what I think I remember. Been a while..

Personally, I think it pretty likely that some original strain fish remain, but I'd be reluctant to venture a guess as to where they are.

Posted on: 2009/6/23 18:28


Re: "wild" rainbows

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2009/2/19 19:59
From Mont Co, Pa
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Quote:

GreenWeenie wrote:
There are many remote streams that hold brookies that have never been stocked and aren’t physically connected to any stocked streams that I am aware of. How did these brookies get there? Did birds ingest fertilized eggs from descendents at other streams and poop these eggs into these streams and they actually hatched and naturally populated the stream?

Using your own argument I would say there is no proof that all “native” brookies are the descendents of hatchery fish so therefore they must be native.


Well put. I mean really, how does one come to find native brookies in a tiny stream that starts as a spring on the top of some mountain litterly in the middle of nowhere? Where it takes miles of walking to access it! No "original natives" left in Pa? SPARE ME.

Posted on: 2009/6/23 18:41
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Re: "wild" rainbows

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I think RLeeP is on the money.

GreenWeenie, there aren't any streams in PA that I'm aware of that aren't physically connected to stocked streams. I've caught native brookies in the Allegheny not far from Pittsburgh. Extremely rare, but it only takes one (well two) to populate a new stream, or entire watershed for that matter. Fish swim, both upstream and down. Heck, the PFBC's own "movement" study showed fish traveling upwards of 20 miles, and through several different streams, in a week! What happens when you give them 80 years? People also plant fish just about everywhere on their own. Also, a much greater number of our streams were once stocked than are today, you wouldn't believe some of the streams generations before us stocked. There are 6 watersheds in PA (Ohio, Susquehanna, Delaware, Potomac, Erie, and Genesee). Only 1 stream in each needs to be stocked, at any point in history, to theoretically populate the entire watershed, and I'm fairly certain that has happened. The only exception is if there is a natural barrier, like a big waterfall. I know of one stream where there's fish below the fall, and not above.....

I think there were probably multiple original strains. Not all may exist today, and we may have hybrids of some of those strains, or hybrids of those strains with stocked ancestry, to the point where we may not have a truly original strain. It is true that during the logging boom most of our streams were basically dead, the entire state was basically one big clearcut. But if one, just one, of the original streams retained its fish, those fish could repopulate a whole drainage. Of course there were new, introduced strains to compete with. Either strain may have won the battle for control, or they may have "hybridized", and the answer is probably different in different streams/watersheds. Yes, I feel fairly certain there is some original ancestry left, but the extent of which and where they exist I have no idea, and I actually doubt there's a purebred original strain left (Big Spring maybe?)

And the bottom line is, does it really matter?

Posted on: 2009/6/23 18:50


Re: "wild" rainbows
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Quote:

pcray1231 wrote:
.... It is true that during the logging boom most of our streams were basically dead, the entire state was basically one big clearcut....


Once again, my skepticism is aroused.

Posted on: 2009/6/23 18:59
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Re: "wild" rainbows

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I'm not going to comment on the remark by "Tups", not worth my two cents. I agree though, with a few others, as I've been to such small isolated streams, not near or connected to a stream that has a stocking point. Streams that contain dozens of step-up waterfalls at least several feet in height which CANNOT be breached or ascended by a small or larger fish, in terrain that only a bobcat would appreciate.

Brook trout, as found in recent radio- telemetry studies are more apt to stay put or migrate upstream some distance compared to browns or rainbows. During the study, no brook trout involved in the study had migrated downstream and into another watershed. None.

However most of the rainbows had traveled some distance downstream, many of them never to be seen again. And some browns stayed while others migrated downstream.

One rainbow in the study had actually travelled from it's original location in Tuncannock Creek, all the way to the West Branch of the Susquehanna river well over 100 miles away, having migrated out of a substancial length stream into the river continuing down river to the confluence of the North Branch and West Branch and continuing some distance up the West Branch Susquehanna River before it was found and documented by no other than the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. The time it took for the migration of the trout was approximately two weeks. The study was coordinated by the PFBC.

I'd say that study helps support the fact that brook trout are non migratory fish. Not only that but given the various streams throughout the state which are miniscule in size with numerous insurmountable obstacles which would make it impossible for stocked fishes to migrate upstream, I highly doubt any statement that says absolutely no evidence of an original strain exists. Ones ability to think abstractly and off the paper, and their thought processing ability must be highly diminished for them to agree or conclude with "that" statement.

I guess what "TUPS" is saying is that "IT'S SAFE TO SAY" that the stocked trout ferry comes and ferrys the stocked trout up over these waterfalls and such to upper isolated sections of remote streams that have no history of being stocked nor would anyone in their right mind attempt to hike in and stock them. Pennsylvania has thousands of them.

In my logical oppinion I would conclude that there are hundreds of places throughout the state that have small isolated streams where it would be at least, difficult, if not impossible for a stocked trout to make it all the way to their source. A decent sized waterfall is a one way barrier. Where fish can go down it and not back up. Remnant populations are sure to be in many of these isolated streams, especially in some more rugged roadless areas, and in their uppermost reaches.

If I were to make a statement I would say that there is a good chance that many streams in Pennsylvania contain remnant populations of original strains of native brook trout in their uppermost reaches. However, the likelyhood of them being an original strain would be suspect in most streams that are part of a watershed that is stocked, or has been stocked in the past, given the fish are capable of migrating upstream with no major barriers to block their upstream migration towards the source or uppermost reaches of stream.

Furthermore I would like to point out that typically a brookie is a fish that is rather small and can tolerate a considerably small habitat or stream much like a chub or minnow. There are just so many of these streams that don't even make it on a map. And many of which are practically "off the map" figuratively speaking.

I guess I couldn't resist, so there is my two cents.

Posted on: 2009/6/23 18:59
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Re: "wild" rainbows

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Jack

The ANF was once called "the great national briar patch", it was a joke that they made it national forest. The entire northern tier was much the same story, the same places that now are where the brookies are most common.

It's questionable whether it was all at the same time, but much of it was. The SE was well settled at that time and may have been largely regrown and privatized by the time they got to the northwoods. But there are only a few small pockets of virgin forest left, and while the trout there probably didn't die off, they certainly had competition moving in from elsewhere.

Posted on: 2009/6/23 19:03


Re: "wild" rainbows

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Jakes,

1. If no fish could make it up the waterfall, how'd it get populated with fish to begin with? The Earth has had heat waves and Ice Ages where these streams looked nothing like what they are today, most of them probably died and repopulated, naturally, many times in the past. I'm amazed at some of the falls I see fish jumping, and its much easier at flood stage. There are of course limits, like nothing is ever getting up some of the falls in Ricketts Glen. But falls of that size are typically somewhat bigger water, and someone easily, at some time, could have stocked above them. I've seen some weird things, like Carp up in the headwaters streams above waterfalls. Heck, I have one stream I know where there are no trout above the waterfall. I used to catch them below and throw em up over trying to populate the upper reaches, who's to say our great great grandfathers didn't do the same?

2. Migratory brook trout are well known in the bigger waters. Pine Creek, among many others, had seasonal migrations that were well known by the fishermen at the time. It was in their genes, not simply a water temperature thing, as it was noted that they'd migrate just the same in summers where the water temperature didn't get so bad. Most of the migratory fish have since died out, perhaps that strain is gone.

3. A stocked trout needs not make it up to the headwaters. He goes up 20 yards, has babies that go up another 20 yards, which has babies that go up another 20 yards, etc. Many generations worth. Maybe 20 years down the road the flood of the century happens and that waterfall blocking the path isn't so high anymore. Streams change course naturally too, more often than we give them credit for. In fact, waterfalls are typically younger sections of a stream, as they wear down with time. Maybe that waterfall didn't exist 60 years ago.

But overall, I agree, there are probably natural genetics in our fish. What I don't know is if there are remnant pure strains, or perhaps just some mutts with perhaps several different natural strains mixed with some stocked trout genes, etc.

Posted on: 2009/6/23 19:11


Re: "wild" rainbows

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I am afraid the small waterfalls argument doesn't hold water-:)
Nature [evolution] has implanted a need to swim upstream to spawn for the same reason aquatic insects fly upstream to deposit eggs.Trout and chars will pass up perfectly good spawning areas on their migration.Whether they wait for storms or snowmelt I can't say but I know plenty of seemingly impassible streams that were never stocked that have a good head of fish.
Also birds will carry eggs on their feet.
We had three ponds never stocked that ended up full of catfish,carp,bass and bluegills-nature will find a way-lol.

Posted on: 2009/6/23 20:18
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Re: "wild" rainbows

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Yeah, but I want to believe that there are still original strains.

And I do. There are enough places around that it is more likely than not. The last ice age was over ten thousand years ago. Areas such as Halifax and Dauphin on the Susquehanna were under at least 500 ft. of ice and loose rock. I'm sure there was plenty of cold water for them that there wasn't any marginal water.

And as far as the waterfalls go, that point that a stocker can swim upstream and bread yeah ok, I understand that but it takes along time for bedrock to erode. We have only been stocking the streams for not much more than 100 years. Often waterfalls become larger over a very long period due the softer rock just downstream of the harder bedrock eroding at a faster rate. There are definately barriers that exist preventing trout from swimming upstream in lots of small streams. It's certainly possible that fish have survived in isolated areas that have been cut off by a barrier such as a waterfall, especially when there is a significant amount of habitat above an obstruction. I'm sure there exist such places if few and far between. There is no way of knowing for sure though. But you can't disprove it either.

Of course out of optimism I left out the occurance that an eagle or racoon or a weasel or something predates on a brookie and relocates it and a few stray eggs upstream of a waterfall or obstruction, or possibly an eagle accidentally drops a fish upstream, but that would spoil all the fun.

I would prefer to think that in the theory of evolution, where animals with the best genetic traits out compete others survive, the creatures that have evolved to their natural surroundings over thousands of years have a better chance overcoming adversity. And I would hope that if that is true, that the native strains that have evolved and adapted and existed in their native waters for eons and eons would somehow have a niche somewhere, that would allow them to have an edge on the competition and survive where non natives may not.

But then again, how about we start the mountain lion argument all over again that was just as entertaining.

I have to admit I know animals do predate on trout , and it is possible for eggs to somehow (almost a miracle) be distributed upstream and fertilized but really who the heck actually knows for a fact that they either do or don't exist.

Posted on: 2009/6/24 2:25
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Re: "wild" rainbows

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2006/12/13 9:28
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Quote:

Tups wrote:
At the risk of recieving a withering rebuke, I would like to add that there is essentially no evidence of an original-strain brook trout population in Pennsylvania. It is safe to say that all of our brook trout are descended from hatchery strains, just like our "wild" browns and rainbows.


Tups, I don't know how withering this is, but even if the first part of your message is true (which you haven't proven), the part in blue is still faulty logic if based on the first part. That would be like saying that because we have no evidense to the contrary, Trees that fall in the woods where nobody is around to hear them make no noise.

Posted on: 2009/6/24 5:24
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Re: "wild" rainbows

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Quote:

Tups wrote:
JackM: I am saying that you shall search in vain for any scientific evidence of a pure-strain native brook trout in PA.


false

Quote:
The PAFBC, the most obvious potential source, has no such data.


Probably true, but just because you couldn't find it on the net doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Quote:
Nor can I find any academic research touching on the matter.


If you say so, but again, that is only your experience.

Quote:
To further support my view, I note that this forum has not yet exposed any data or study to support a native-strain phenomenon.


false

Quote:
I strongly suspect that if the evidence were available, this forum would be the first to bring it to light.


see previous

Quote:
contrary, the anecdotal evidence, and that is all we have, strongly suggests that, like browns and rainbows, all of our brookies are descended from hatchery strains.


In general this is false. The anecdotal evidence by itself might indicate that, but it does provide supportive evidence, and Evidence that we need more studies.

Quote:
this on the natural resource history of PA and the long history of stocking in the state.


No, it is your personal knowledge.

It is true that genetic studies for brook trout are quite limited, but that is because they were never truely endangered, at least not during any time where genetic testing was available. DNA testing is a new thing relative to brook trout history of PA (since European first settled). However, it is out there and more is coming along.

It is a quite interesting subject.

I say scientific studies are available that suggest that pure strains of brook trout do exist in NE US, including PA (and one in Ohio). Prove me wrong.

Ihe one I have on an Ohio stream is a hard copy so have fun proving that one doesn't exist.

Do a google search for Pete sake. Also please remember that not all info is on the WWW. It only gets there if someone puts it there.

Here is an interesting white paper that might get you started.

http://www.brookie.org/atf/cf/%7bCFA4 ... UTGENETICS_WHITEPAPER.DOC

One more thing. Even in populations where the genetics were influenced by stocking ... The local genetics still exists, and the cream rides to the top. In other words, nature decides what the best traits will be.

Posted on: 2009/6/24 5:51
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Re: "wild" rainbows

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A lot of people are talking abou the original Pennsylvania strain of brook trout. What exactly dies this mean?

I'll tel you. It means a lot of people are still thinking like this is the 1970s or 80s.

More recent genetic studies show that "strains" can vary greatly even in adjacent streams.

Posted on: 2009/6/24 5:58
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Re: "wild" rainbows

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Quote:

GreenWeenie wrote:

Using your own argument I would say there is no proof that all “native” brookies are the descendents of hatchery fish so therefore they must be native.



Nailed it.

In fact there is sceintific evidence that suggest that local genetics if present will remain even with stocking. So, in other words. Unless the original population was completely wiped out ...

Scientist have found that Brook trout genetics are way more diversified than originally thought (except for those of you east of snowshoe ).

It is arguable that there are still "strains" of brook trout that are genetically 99% + pure to that stream. There is value in brook trout that are 90% pure. But move them a couple miles to an adjacent stream, and they might no longer be considered "native" to that stream. Genetically speaking of course. They would still be PA native, but considering the huge diversity even in adjacent streams in some cases, what difference does it make if it came from 3 miles away or 300. (warning: a little sarcasm there)

I am not saying it is OK to move fish around. It isn't IMHO. I'm saying it has already happened, but it doesn't meant he sky has fallen. It is not advisable to move fish around like that, but it is what people do (or have done).

Posted on: 2009/6/24 6:13
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Re: "wild" rainbows

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2006/12/13 9:28
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Quote:

pcray1231 wrote:
I think RLeeP is on the money.

GreenWeenie, there aren't any streams in PA that I'm aware of that aren't physically connected to stocked streams.


Physically connected? Maybe not. But I can show you a couple htat are completely isolated by miles of heavily polluted streams. I'm talking streams so acidic that they could desolve a buick in a year. A slight exageration, but you know what I mean.

One more thing. the trout don't know where the state line is. In there world, the boundaries are dirt, rock, and air. which brings me to this.

Quote:
And the bottom line is, does it really matter?


Not as much as a lot of people think.

Posted on: 2009/6/24 6:20
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