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Re: "wild" rainbows

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There are stream obstacles that are impassable by brook trout, including some waterfalls. How did the trout get there? Well, over thousands of year they had these things called glaciers which changed the landscape. Also many stream were connected while glaciers retreated. Some streams actually changed directions.

Posted on: 2009/6/24 6:28
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Re: "wild" rainbows

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Physically connected? Maybe not. But I can show you a couple that are completely isolated by miles of heavily polluted streams.


1. There's still a question of timing. While acid mine drainage has had more lasting impacts on streams, for most areas the leanest brook trout period was the logging boom, as it effected nearly all streams in a watershed from headwaters to mouth, not just downstream of the pollution source allowing sanctuaries in the headwaters and tribs. Generally, the logging boom came before the coal boom. Those areas had been (perhaps) decimated, at least partially regrown, and the re-population well underway before the mines started the pollution.

2. While AMD does pose a significant barrier, it is my understanding that brook trout can survive in most of them. There may not be feed, and the eggs may not survive, so you won't get populations in them. But individual fish can pass through it unharmed. Fish occasionally travel for many miles, especially in places where habitat doesn't suit them. I may be wrong on this, would have to double check.

While I love my brookie fishin, I don't see a wild/native brookie as any more valuable than a wild brown or rainbow. A streambred wild fish is a jewel anyway you slice it, regardless of genetic origins. I fish a lot of brookie streams simply because I enjoy it, not to make any political statement about the value of a native over another form of wild fish.

And yes, they've determined that brook trout have many strains, perhaps a different one in each adjacent watershed. I believe the studies came from Maine where some of the populations are still intact as they once were. Cutthroats in the west are similar, and even in that much more undeveloped land they're losing some of the strains (greenbacks, yellowstone, etc.). There is, and always was, some natural mixing of the strains due to natural events. I would say here in PA, our actions have greatly accelerated the natural mixing, perhaps to the point of losing pure strains, and introduced new strains from the stockings. Where now we probably have the equivalent of a thousand different variations of mutts, genetically speaking, which may or may not still be genetically indistinguishable. If you want to find as close to a purebred original, I think you actually look to the bigger streams with historically larger, more stable populations, like BFC and Big Spring.

Posted on: 2009/6/24 8:26


Re: "wild" rainbows

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Why do some people find it so important to assert, and argue strenuously, that there are not pure native strain brook trout in PA? What is their goal? What are their motives? Are they just motivated by the spirit of scientific inquiry, and seeking after knowledge? Or is there something else going on?

Supposing a consensus is reached that there aren't any pure strain brookies left in PA. What would that mean regarding any sort of management decisions? Either fisheries management or public land management or environmental quality decision making?

Posted on: 2009/6/24 8:29


Re: "wild" rainbows

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I find it scientifically interesting. If find PA's natural history interesting, and encouraging (if we can come back from THAT to where we are today, where can we be tomorrow?). But I still enjoy reading the old stories of before some of these areas were decimated, of wild trout in places where we couldn't even dream of it today. Knowledge helps everyone, whether its immediately apparant or not.

No, it does not matter personally for me. From a management perspective, I'm not sure. If it were proved there are none, then I don't think anything changes. If someone proved there were a genetically original strain somewhere, which could happen, then perhaps there could be an extra effort to protect them.

Posted on: 2009/6/24 8:39


Re: "wild" rainbows

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JackM wrote:
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.


Mine too. I've read the logging histories and seen the photos of the stripped and burnt over hillsides. And I know that only a trivial acreage was left uncut.

But, is there historical evidence that the brookies were wiped out as a result? I've read a lot on these topics and I've never found evidence of that.

It's easy to assume that if a watershed was all logged off and then burnt over that the brookies would disappear. But I don't think that is the case.

Supposing today that every single tree in the Kettle Creek drainage was cut down. And then a high intensity fire swept through the whole area. Would the brookies be eradicated? I don't think they would. Their numbers would likely be reduced, but they wouldn't be eradicated. They would still hang on in the headwater areas. The groundwater comes into the stream at around 50F. So even if all of the trees were removed, the fish could still survive in the headwater tribs.

Brookies survive today in some open meadow environments, where the vegetation is grassy, rather than forested.

After an area is logged or burned, if you come back even a year or two later, there is rapid growth of grasses and other vegetation.

Also, during the logging era, not everything was cut at one time. There were different landowners so different tracts were cut at different periods. So at the time one tract was being leveled, another tract was growing back in brush.

Posted on: 2009/6/24 9:19


Re: "wild" rainbows

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Quote:

pcray1231 wrote:
I find it scientifically interesting. If find PA's natural history interesting, and encouraging (if we can come back from THAT to where we are today, where can we be tomorrow?). But I still enjoy reading the old stories of before some of these areas were decimated, of wild trout in places where we couldn't even dream of it today. Knowledge helps everyone, whether its immediately apparant or not.

No, it does not matter personally for me. From a management perspective, I'm not sure. If it were proved there are none, then I don't think anything changes. If someone proved there were a genetically original strain somewhere, which could happen, then perhaps there could be an extra effort to protect them.


I'm hoping Tups will answer the question about his motivations. I think it is about something more than interesting natural history to him, based on his statements.

Posted on: 2009/6/24 9:25


Re: "wild" rainbows

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Don't forget the fittest will survive and adapt.Pure strain brookies or rainbows ,first find undesturbed habitat, ie Labrador alaska,maybe there will be "pure strain" trout.
I guess is it really that important?

Posted on: 2009/6/24 9:35
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Re: "wild" rainbows
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Posted on: 2009/6/24 9:40


Re: "wild" rainbows

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Troutbert,

Water temperature was a problem with the clearcuts, but not the main problem. Siltation was the main problem, as well as a very quick change in soil type (leading to old springs drying up and new, different ones forming). Even today, many of the small streams have relatively little suitable spawning habitat. All the spawning occurs in relatively small areas, and then the fry spread back out afterwards. (this all goes back to populations, not fish, being "fragile").

With the deforestation, there would have been a rapid change in the streams, and spawning areas would have been silted in. I'm not saying no populations held on, but it would have been tough. Logging then was very different than today. Today we do small clearcuts or selective logging. Then they did wholescale clearing of many square miles.

By the time the area regrows into grasses and brush, the siltation would have been slowly washing out, forming new structure, and allowing for possible repopulation.

Like you said, it wasn't all at the same time, some regions took longer to get to than others, and maybe while the Pine Creek drainage was being devastated, several other drainages farther south along the Susquehanna were well on their way to recovery. Those drainages are connected and fish do have the ability to swim, and have always shown the ability to repopulate good habitat against all odds. While I don't dismiss the possibility of an isolated, remnant "pure" population, I do think it's likely we have significant natural genes in our fish, whether mixed or not.

Posted on: 2009/6/24 10:59


Re: "wild" rainbows

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Quote:

pcray1231 wrote:
Troutbert,

Water temperature was a problem with the clearcuts, but not the main problem. Siltation was the main problem, as well as a very quick change in soil type (leading to old springs drying up and new, different ones forming). Even today, many of the small streams have relatively little suitable spawning habitat. All the spawning occurs in relatively small areas, and then the fry spread back out afterwards. (this all goes back to populations, not fish, being "fragile").

With the deforestation, there would have been a rapid change in the streams, and spawning areas would have been silted in. I'm not saying no populations held on, but it would have been tough. Logging then was very different than today. Today we do small clearcuts or selective logging. Then they did wholescale clearing of many square miles.

By the time the area regrows into grasses and brush, the siltation would have been slowly washing out, forming new structure, and allowing for possible repopulation.

Like you said, it wasn't all at the same time, some regions took longer to get to than others, and maybe while the Pine Creek drainage was being devastated, several other drainages farther south along the Susquehanna were well on their way to recovery. Those drainages are connected and fish do have the ability to swim, and have always shown the ability to repopulate good habitat against all odds. While I don't dismiss the possibility of an isolated, remnant "pure" population, I do think it's likely we have significant natural genes in our fish, whether mixed or not.


Interesting theories about why brook trout "should have" been eradicated. But I have never seen historical evidence that they actually were. At what time interval were the brookies supposedly nearly entirely missing?

I've read a lot of historical accounts of PA brook trout fishing. There are many complaints of the fishing being down, but I've never come across any accounts that suggested that it disappeared altogether, or even came close.

Vanishing Trout, by Charles Lose, is interesting on these accounts. It was published in 1931. He complains about the reduction in quality of the fishing. But he also talks about catching brook trout in old splash dams from the logging era, and fishing streams flanked by stripped hillsides. He was old when he wrote that book and fished many of these areas before they were logged, and after. He does not say anywhere in the book that there was a period when the brookies were wiped out.

Regarding siltation and spawning habitat etc. The freestone streams in NC PA generally are of high to medium gradient. So they are high energy streams. Fine sediment does not stay around long in these type of streams. With high flows, it gets carried downstream. Walk along these streams and notice what substrate the streambeds are made up of. There are predominately cobble, which means rocks 4 to 10 inches in diameter. There is little silt and not even much sand. Those fine materials get quickly carried downstream in high flow.

In many places even gravel, which is the size preferred for spawning, is in short supply, because high energy flows carry it away.

And many sections are running on flat bedrock, where the stream energy is so high that even cobble and small boulders get swept away.

Posted on: 2009/6/24 18:10


Re: "wild" rainbows

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I've personally read about how national forests in this country are regarded as land management areas used for resourses such as logging, and in many national forests logging is a routine occurance. But for someone to say that the forests were completely decimated is a fantastic overstatement. Logging was heavy early in the 20th century, but the forests in PA were never completely harvested as if a giant hayfield.

Also there are areas in this state that have such poor terrain conditions that you would never expect to catch anything in the local streams. I have fished streams in Northeastern Pa particularly around the Carbondale area and in around scranton, where there are miles and miles of exposed treeless barren terrain from from strip mining and coal mines. Most people would say they are like wastelands, with no plants growing and just hundreds of acres of open ground composed of black anthracite cinders.

I have fished streams that run through miles of this type of landscape and low and behold I've caught brookies in such streams.

In fact, the Lackawanna River is one of these waterways, and although I have personally never fished it, I know that it is an excellent fishery, and it runs through an area that has been devastated by mining and logging in the past.

Mining in the area was extensive and it is plainly visible even decades and decades later as many square miles of land are still almost completely barren in this region of the state. Yet even with such devastation to the land in this area even now, the brookies are still present. If they can survive in some of these streams I don't see how logging would have completely irradicated them at the turn of the century.

Posted on: 2009/6/24 20:14
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Re: "wild" rainbows

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Posted on: 2009/6/24 22:12


Re: "wild" rainbows

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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.

Withering rebuke... LOL

Posted on: 2009/6/24 22:16


Re: "wild" rainbows

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And you'll find no one willing to say that all of our brookies are from hatchery stock. I believe that most if not all of the brookies in NC streams are of heritage strains. There is a pretty good likelyhood that even some streams in SE PA have heritage strains.
USGS is studying the strains of brookies in the east. There is an ongoing study of brookies at Mansfield, for PFBC and we're likey to know the truth soon.

Posted on: 2009/6/24 22:25
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It's time to stop stocking all wild trout streams no matter what Classification they are, and time to eradicate brown trout in some of our limestone streams and re-establish brookies in them.


Re: "wild" rainbows

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Chaz is right and he knows more about this subject than he is saying right now. In fact, he might be understating a little hedging his bet ( both are my opinion). Studies are showing that the original strains are much more intact than a lot of people had previously speculated. that's right. What Tups said is the side that is based ENTIRELY on speculation and anectodal information.

How many of you actually read that white paper? Taps ... err ... I mean Tups, did you read it?

As far as your withering problem, take the blue pill.

Posted on: 2009/6/25 6:26
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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance." -Henry David Thoreau--



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