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"wild" rainbows

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2009/4/7 10:22
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Today being Father's Day, my Dad and I went decided to meet up and do some fishing. Well, this morning didn't look promising, all of the creeks we checked were blown out from the rain over the past few days. Chocolate milk and out of the banks. So we went small. Turned into a great day, I caught ~10 fish, all wild rainbows (I don't normally count that closely). All but one fish was in the 6-8" range, very healthy. The watershed is not stocked, they fought like hell and had vibrant markings.

So that led me to thinking about wild rainbows, what with all the wild/native debates.

So: are naturally reproducing rainbow trout native to Pennsylvania (my gut instinct says no) and if not, are they descendants of hatchery fish?

Attached is a picture of one of the fish. What markings indicate the rainbow is wild? I noticed the parr marks were still very visible on each of the fish, even up to my final fish a 10 incher. Also, all of the fish had a white marked tip of their anal fin. I don't have much experience catching wild rainbows, so I'm curious if anyone knows more about them.

Up until today, I had only caught 'dink' rainbows and nothing as big as these guys. I was really impressed with the fishing. Wild browns and native brookies have always been my favorite PA fish (I can't decide which I like more) mainly because I typically only catch stocker bows.

Any insight?

Attach file:



jpg  healthy wild rainbow.jpg (808.19 KB)
2325_4a3ef3ec02f21.jpg 2272X1704 px

Posted on: 2009/6/21 23:01


Re: "wild" rainbows
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Jason,
Rainbows are not native to PA so the ones we have are indeed descendants of hatchery (or transplanted) fish. Rainbows do however reproduce naturally here in PA. While it is not common, I think it may be more common than is readily recognized. Some waterways are known for their wild 'bows, such as the Delaware and Falling Springs but isolated populations of wild rainbows are not that unusual in many of our streams, esp limestoners.

The fish in your photo does look wild to me.

Posted on: 2009/6/21 23:08


Re: "wild" rainbows

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Looks wild, could be a fingerling that ate the local forage and got colored nicely.

Posted on: 2009/6/21 23:45


Re: "wild" rainbows

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You could check your stream against this list to rule out fingerling stocking...

http://www.fishandboat.com/stock_fingerling.htm

Posted on: 2009/6/21 23:48


Re: "wild" rainbows

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thanks guys. Its not a stocked fingerling, according to the list. Also not a limestone creek, so I'd guess its a rare gem that I'm going to have to explore a little further.

Posted on: 2009/6/22 0:54


Re: "wild" rainbows

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Fishidiot,

I'm willing to bet that more freestoners hold wild bows than limestoners. I know of at least 7 freestone streams that hold wild bows just off the top of my head.

Jason,

As was said, rainbow trout are not native to PA. For that matter, neither are browns. Both reproduce naturally in the state, though browns are much more common. Both are descendents of stocked fish. Brookies, of course, are native to the state. But when you encounter a brookie population, there is some debate on whether they are native to the watershed, transplanted from a different watershed, or descended from stockies; all three situations most certainly occur. Remember, most of our wild trout streams were partially or completely wiped out at one point in history.

Posted on: 2009/6/22 7:35


Re: "wild" rainbows

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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.

Posted on: 2009/6/23 15:10


Re: "wild" rainbows
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Quote:

Tups wrote:
.... 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....


Are you saying that there is evidence that all of the present brook trout populations are descended from hatchery stock? I find this highly suspect.

Posted on: 2009/6/23 15:25
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Re: "wild" rainbows

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JackM: I am saying that you shall search in vain for any scientific evidence of a pure-strain native brook trout in PA. The PAFBC, the most obvious potential source, has no such data. Nor can I find any academic research touching on the matter. To further support my view, I note that this forum has not yet exposed any data or study to support a native-strain phenomenon. I strongly suspect that if the evidence were available, this forum would be the first to bring it to light. On the 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. I base this on the natural resource history of PA and the long history of stocking in the state.

Posted on: 2009/6/23 15:35


Re: "wild" rainbows

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I remember reading about many of the streams all over Pa. being jammed with native trout-before the logging boom[NPI] around civil war time-then they warmed up and of course locals ate fish all year around-and the mining-so the brown was brought in because it was more tolerant.Unfortunately that was around the time "Dry fly" fishing became popular.

Posted on: 2009/6/23 15:52
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Re: "wild" rainbows

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A lot may well be hybrids,pure probably if you look in Allegheny NF for streams with big waterfalls.I'd bet Potter county has a few near Keating Summit.
Lots of research being done in Souther Applachians on brook trout.I believe that some years back I caught what might be pure strain Brookies in a tiny brook in South Carolina aptly name Bad Creek.
Most likely some one is doing genetic research on this .

Posted on: 2009/6/23 15:57
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Re: "wild" rainbows

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Tups...that would make sense, since I think we determined on this board in some other thread that brookies are fragile.

Honestly, I have no clue either way.

Posted on: 2009/6/23 15:58


Re: "wild" rainbows
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Tups, on the one hand you claim there is no evidence of a native strain and on the other hand that "it is safe to say" that there is not any such native strain. These aren't equivalent statements. Many wild brook trout streams have never been stocked by the PFBC in their entire history, so unless there is evidence of private plantings, these trout would be presumed native-strain if I had to rely on conjecture as you are doing.

Posted on: 2009/6/23 15:58
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Re: "wild" rainbows

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No question the brook[not a trout] was native to Pa. but how are we going to prove it?
A challenge for the less challenged-I can't even figure out how to put cartoons on here.

Posted on: 2009/6/23 16:01
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Re: "wild" rainbows

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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.

BTW, there is documented proof (except the PFBC won’t admit it) that the strain of brookies on Big Spring Creek up until the mid 70’s was a native strain of brookies unique to Big Spring. Of course the PFBC wiped out this strain with operation of the major hatchery.

Posted on: 2009/6/23 16:19



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