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A day in the early March life of an AFM

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It's 7 AM and its off to Philly (50 miles) from Nockamixon State Park to set an eel trap in a tidal trib to the Delaware. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission requires the PFBC and all other coastal Atlantic states to monitor "glass eels" (translucent phase of American eels) for six weeks in late winter and early spring as they enter tributaries up and down the coast. As I take a water temperature I notice deer tracks all around me. Urban deer!!!

With the trap in place its back north to eastern Berks Co./Lehigh Co. to meet Area 5's biologists. We are going to be electrofishing the upper stocked section of the Little Lehigh as part of the statewide stocked trout residency studies. It was stocked in early March. On the way I eyeball a spot where we found a stream encroachment last week on a trib to Core Creek, Bucks Co. We alerted our WCO and the Bucks Co Conservation District, which investigated. The very upper end of this Little Lehigh section proves interesting. Where the habitat is good, residency is good, plus there is a nice wild brown trout population. Fish are rising. I would fish it for wild trout if I lived closer to that spot. Taken as whole, the Little Lehigh system, including the tribs, continues to impress me as one of the better or one of the best wild brown trout systems in the state. Fly anglers who only fish the special reg areas in this drainage are missing so, so much!

The Little Lehigh habitat deteriorates within a few tenths of a mile. The next sampling site is in a farm field. The habitat is poorer...much sediment and clay... and we find fewer stocked trout and a few wild trout (not enough to fish over) that have temporarily moved in from other upstream and downstream areas over the winter. Area 5's biologist says that last summer's survey revealed no trout in that area. The site gets clogged with water lilies and is very silty.

By now it's mid-afternoon and we're off to Ontelaunee Creek in northern Lehigh Co. More stocked trout residency work. The stream was stocked 5 days earlier. By now the stream is clear but moving fast from the warm air temps melting the surrounding snow. The pH is neutral, but the total alkalinity has dropped to 8 ppm. Normally, alkalinity is much higher in this farm country (the next morning it is back to 20 ppm in nearly freezing temperatures with snow melt reduced to a trickle). The alkalinity is "doing its job" on this day to neutralize the acid from the melting snow and protect the trout. Electrofishing reveals a surprising number of trout given the rapid flow and limited number of true pools. Most of the fish are in deep runs and under shoreline shrubs. Some are 200 yds downstream, which is not the usual case in these studies, but residency is good. Fortunately we stock this stream with 70% rainbows and 30% browns. With this current and the lack of current breaks, brook trout would have been gone, most likely well downstream, as we seldom see much upstream movement of any stocked trout at this time of the year. The rainbows hold quite well in current.

The landowner stops to speak with us. He is originally from Massachusetts and does not fish. His kids enjoy it though. He requests a few "no littering" signs since anglers annually leave trash along his property on opening day. We contact the WCO and he drops some off that evening.

Finally, we check out tomorrow's planned sampling point on Ontelaunee Creek and on the way discover something new! As we look over a bridge we discover that our golden trout spawn in spring. We first see a large female golden trout and a paired up male half her size in shallow water at the tail end of a pool. Backs are sometimes out of the water. They are paired up over a sizable redd, and just to the rear of the female are three approx. 11 inch rainbow males also "waiting in the wings" for their chance. We are amazed....five days in the creek and never having seen gravel, they are already spawning! Interesting day!

Posted on: 2010/3/10 9:07


Re: A day in the early March life of an AFM

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Mike,

Great stuff.

Regarding urban deer- I have nearly hit a deer on belmont avenue a few times over the years. The closest call I've ever had was across the street from Radnor HS.

I never saw this many deer in the road back in berks county. I still plan on calling you. Shoot me a PM with an optimal time.

Posted on: 2010/3/10 9:13


Re: A day in the early March life of an AFM

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Very interesting all around Mike. Those stupid stockies just might have brains and instincts in there huh??

I think it's a pretty neat job you have there and we all appreciate your input on this site. It helps solve some of the debates with an insider on board! It's nice to see immediate action upon request. As any business person knows, that's what makes you successful. So seeing that you made a few calls to appease some issues and they were taken care of immediately is good to see.

Speaking of urban wildlife, there's a flock of turkey's that frequent the streets of Pittsburgh by Pitt's main campus. My wife went there and she'd see them walking down the street pretty regularly. Quite a suprise the first time you see them.

Thanks again for the post Mike, cool stuff!



Ryan

Posted on: 2010/3/10 9:47
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Re: A day in the early March life of an AFM
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Stocked trout trying to spawn-- where the heck did they learn that? I thought all their instincts were bred out of them. Don't they just wait around for their milking?

Posted on: 2010/3/10 11:49
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Re: A day in the early March life of an AFM

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2006/9/11 14:30
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You hiring?

Sounds like a great job! Wish you could blog about your day everyday!

Sorry for the off-topic question, setting that eel trap just made me think of this but; not sure if you know the guy, Mike Hendricks, PFBC biologist who is head of the shad restoration in PA? Do you know if there are plans to know if the "hicks in the cricks" initiative a few years back worked?

I have been researching (Googling for PFBC info and fishing Delaware tribs) since this attempt to develop an urban fishery initiative started way back in 04' but have come up empty. Thanks!
Pat

Posted on: 2010/3/10 12:15
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Re: A day in the early March life of an AFM

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Quote:
Stocked trout trying to spawn-- where the heck did they learn that? I thought all their instincts were bred out of them. Don't they just wait around for their milking?


Jack,

I see these kind of comments from you from time to time and i dont think anyone has ever said that they have NO instincts.

However your never going to win an argument that stocked trout are superior to wild trout in instincts. Im not sure why you keep throwing these out there.

Mike,

Awesome stuff!
I think this is the kind of thing most of us have no idea is going on in a day to day basis. It doesnt surprise me that the LL is doing so well in the upper sections. I have had a few very good days up there and always wanted to return.

Did you guys turn up any wild rainbows? Ive caught quiet a few up there in the past few years.

Posted on: 2010/3/10 12:24
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Re: A day in the early March life of an AFM

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no longer care

Posted on: 2010/3/10 12:48


Re: A day in the early March life of an AFM
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Yes, my point is simple-- hatchery strains have all instinct intact, including feeding, spawning and shelter concerns. About the only abnormal behavior I've seen is toleration of other trout in close proximity for a short time and excess expenditure of energy for food value, both of which are conditioned behavior that is somewhat counter-adaptive to stream life. This fades rather quickly once in the stream, perhaps as short as a couple few weeks.

Posted on: 2010/3/10 13:01
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Re: A day in the early March life of an AFM

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Not even close to what im saying. They must spawn.......we have wild brown and rainbow trout right?

What im saying is......

Trying to convince me or others of something we already know is kinda a waste of time Sometimes i feel those comments are meant to do nothing more than to inflame.

Stocked trout are far less superior than wild trout in every aspect, but i never heard anyone say they dont spawn or have no instincts.

My dog (god rest his soul)...would howl, dig, sniff and do other things wild dogs do.

But he had no chance on his own in the wild. Instincts, Yes. Superior to a wild dog .......well maybe in the fact i loved him but not in any other way.

Posted on: 2010/3/10 13:03
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Re: A day in the early March life of an AFM

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never mind...

Posted on: 2010/3/10 13:11


Re: A day in the early March life of an AFM

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Is it always needed to make chili on a FF board?

I dont know tom, if he said it to stir the pot then isnt that trying to convince people or at least show them another side? I also said me or others. You must have missed that. I still didnt even see anyone in this thread say they dont breed?

I must be missing something here.

Tell you what, you splain it to me since you seem to have a handle on it.

Posted on: 2010/3/10 13:20
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Re: A day in the early March life of an AFM

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Stocked fish certainly breed. It is less common for them to be successful at it than wild fish, but it does happen.

Anyway, I don't want to take a hijack on the main board any further than that. Thanks for your input, Mike, it was an interesting read.

Posted on: 2010/3/10 13:22


Re: A day in the early March life of an AFM

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i love rainbot trout...

with a side of beans.

Hey Tom, when do we eat?

Attach file:



jpg  trout.jpg (188.31 KB)
348_4b97e37167a63.jpg 500X500 px

Posted on: 2010/3/10 13:22
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Re: A day in the early March life of an AFM

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I thought it stood on its own...You chose to question the comment. I don't see it being any different than you making an off handed comment to the contrary. I was sarcastically and jokingly wondering why you even chose to analyze it.

Posted on: 2010/3/10 13:24


Re: A day in the early March life of an AFM
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Neat report Mike!

BTW: I was doing some research at the Big Spring office this week and reviewed a report you submitted in 1979. Cool stuff - you've been at this business for awhile. As always we enjoy your input.

Posted on: 2010/3/10 13:26



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