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Brookie versus Brownie habitat ?

Joined:
2012/10/24 19:22
From Landenberg, PA
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I made a list of the Class A waters in NE & SE PA that support only brookies and then correlated it with my list of limestone streams.

I didn't find what i was expecting - the vast majority of streams that have denoted Class A brookie status, are freestone, not limestone !

which is weird cos i was thinking that the many many limestone streams in those counties would support brookies due to the colder water, but it seems more are given over to brownies or stockies, and so conversley more freestoners have native brookies than limestoners in my list.

thats the wrong way round isn't it ? - you'd expect the limestoners to have brookies and the free stoners have the more tolerant browns...

i cut out of the list those streams that were 100% private closed, maybe that skewed the figures ?

so anyways, i have a list of interesting streams to fish (plus unt's) but its not what i thought it'd be !

Mark.

Posted on: 2013/9/6 13:41


Re: Brookie versus Brownie habitat ?

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Another thing ya have to take into account when talking habitats is water PH.

Posted on: 2013/9/6 13:58
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Re: Brookie versus Brownie habitat ?

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2011/6/29 9:38
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Here's my take on that and this is bascially what I have gleaned from talking to brookie enthusiasts on this site. Browns will pretty much take over where they want if the conditions (food, shelter and temp) are right. Brookies are pretty much left to where browns don't want to live or can't get to. For example, there is a class A stream in the Poconos that is almost all browns until you get to a set of falls where everything above is brookies. Brookies used to dominate that stream but then browns got in and took over but browns just can't get above the falls, so that is brookie water.

Other places where brookies inhabit that browns don't like are streams where the water stays really cold most of the year and does not have a lot of aquatic food. This tends to be mostly mountain freestone streams. Limestone streams are very fertile and have a fairly constant temperature. You can find brookies but other species (browns or bows in the case of Big Spring) will keep the brookie population down.

Now I do not state that anything above is proven fact but from my last year of fishing for brookies and finding streams that have brookies, this is what I have found to be true.

Posted on: 2013/9/6 14:08


Re: Brookie versus Brownie habitat ?

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Quote:

PACOFRANSICO wrote:
Another thing ya have to take into account when talking habitats is water PH.


Agreed. Brookies are more tolerant of acidic water.

Posted on: 2013/9/6 14:10


Re: Brookie versus Brownie habitat ?

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Quote:

Foxgap239 wrote:Other places where brookies inhabit that browns don't like are streams where the water stays really cold most of the year and does not have a lot of aquatic food. This tends to be mostly mountain freestone streams. .


that might be it. for these freestones to be cool enough to support brookies year round, i figured the elevations must be quite high.

though coming from a UK background where even the tiniest burns/rivulets produce small dark skinny browns i'm surprised.

thanks Foxy !


Posted on: 2013/9/6 14:50


Re: Brookie versus Brownie habitat ?

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From Landenberg, PA
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Quote:

Foxgap239 wrote:
Quote:

PACOFRANSICO wrote:
Another thing ya have to take into account when talking habitats is water PH.


Agreed. Brookies are more tolerant of acidic water.


Again, most of the peaty stained rivers & Loughs in Scotland and Ireland produce very big brown trout - so i'm not sure its PH but more like lack of food or suitable habitat.

i don't think i've caught many brownies in open low clear water either...

Posted on: 2013/9/6 14:58


Re: Brookie versus Brownie habitat ?

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2006/9/18 8:28
From Attitudinally, one mile south of Lake LeBoeuf
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The species distribution you found in Class A streams in SE and NE PA is exactly what you should expect. Take water temps out of the equation and consider habitat (including in particular susceptibility to sedimentation and agricultural runoff) as the primary controlling factor. In PA, which stream type (limestone vs. freestone) is likely to have the most sediment and runoff issues? Which trout species (brook or brown) is more tolerant of these conditions?

There's your answer..

Posted on: 2013/9/7 6:44


Re: Brookie versus Brownie habitat ?

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2006/9/13 10:18
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It's mostly geological factors that determine where each species is. Freestone Streams are always more acidic then limestone streams, browns have a lower tolerance for acidity so they don't take over freestone streams to the extent that they do in limestone streams. Limestone Streams almost always have more silt, and brookies don't tolerate silt as much as browns.

Brookies do well anywhere there are no browns, even in places that there is no cover you'll find some brookies. Browns like cover, which can be something as simple as water depth, or big trees along streams. In many streams all browns need is a toe hold, ph above 6, but the closer to 7 the better, and cover, and browns can take over a stream.

The one anomaly is Big Spring, not many browns at all, and it has only had an abundance of browns when they were stocked. I believe this is a function of the very cold temperatures year round; On a 95° the creek can be in the fifties down as far as the dam at Newville.

Water temperature has an important role when it comes to spawning, the colder the water the more brookies are successful, if the water is warmer during the spawning period and during incubation, it will start at some point to favor browns.

Both will survive summer temperatures up to 78° well, but after that fish will start to die. High temperatures = lower oxygen which tends to favor browns if it's over a long periods. It all comes back to geology in the end, because geology pretty much determines what all the other factors are.

Posted on: 2013/9/7 7:09
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Re: Brookie versus Brownie habitat ?

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pfbc online: "Brook Trout
Salvelinus fontinalis

Species overview: The brook trout is Pennsylvania’s official state fish. It is technically a char. It is related to the Arctic char of the Far North, the Dolly Varden and bull trouts of the West, and the lake trout. The chars live farther north than most other trout and salmon family members. The brook trout’s original home was northeastern North America, through the Great Lakes, and south along the Appalachian Mountains to Georgia. It is the only stream trout that is native to Pennsylvania. The genus name “Salvelinus” is derived from an old name for char. The species name “fontinalis” means “of springs.” Brook trout are sometimes called speckled trout, squaretails or just “brookies.”

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Identification: The brook trout’s general body color is dark-green. Looking closer, its back is dark olive-green or gray-green, mottled with dark, squiggly or wormlike markings from head to tail. The sides and belly shade lighter, sometimes with green, gray or even lavendar tones, and additional irregular marks. The sides also have scattered red dots, surrounded by bright-blue halos. The belly is usually pale yellow-orange, with a blackish or gray streak down the middle. The pectoral, pelvic and anal fins are pale to bright-orange with a white leading edge followed by a black stripe. There are dark blotches on the dorsal and caudal fins. The brook trout’s tail fin is less forked than that of most trout and salmon. It’s even squarish. In spawning males, colors become more intense and the belly becomes deeporange. At maturity, wild brook trout may be from five inches to 18 inches long, according to the availability of food in the home stream.

Brook trout

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Habitat: The brook trout lives naturally in small, cold, clean streams. It also adapts to ponds and lakes, as well as instream beaver ponds. Brook trout are found in Pennsylvania as wild populations in the Ohio, Susquehanna, Genesee, Potomac and Delaware River watersheds. Brook trout are also found throughout the state as hatchery-raised, stocked fish. The habitat of wild brook trout has been greatly reduced in Pennsylvania since European settlers arrived, with land-use changes, mining, and warming and silting of streams, and with other pollution and stream habitat degradation. Naturally self-sustaining populations can still be found in limestone spring-fed streams and cold, mountain creeks. Brook trout can tolerate relatively acidic waters, but not temperatures much over 65 degrees.

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Life history: Brook trout spawn in the fall, from mid-September through November and may travel to upstream headwaters to find the right spawning spot. Similar to other trout, with violent motion of the body and tail, the female digs a shallow nest depression in the bottom gravel where there is good water flow to bring oxygen to the eggs. The males become aggressive on the spawning grounds, chasing one another, but several males may accompany the female in the spawning act. After fertilization, the eggs receive a small additional covering of gravel, often from females digging new areas just upstream. The eggs are given no further parental care. Eggs develop over the winter and hatch in late winter or early spring. In small streams, sexually mature fish may be only four or five inches long, and produce only a few hundred eggs. A brook trout over 18 inches might produce around 4,000 eggs. In headwater, infertile streams, few brook trout may reach “legal” keeping size for anglers. Large brook trout caught by anglers in Pennsylvania are mostly hatchery-stocked fish. But they may have spent some time in the stream since their planting, grown bigger, and become wary of anglers. Brook trout feed on aquatic and terrestrial insects, both under and on the water’s surface, crustaceans and small fish. They can be caught on a variety of artificial flies, lures and natural baits. Brook trout are relatively short-lived. Few survive in the wild longer than five years."

Posted on: 2013/9/7 7:15


Re: Brookie versus Brownie habitat ?

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Before human intervention brookies had evolved in limestone streams to the extent that browns have now adapted to limestone streams in PA, browns tend to be very agressive defending feeding and resting lies thus push the brookies out.

Posted on: 2013/9/7 7:28
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Re: Brookie versus Brownie habitat ?

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Interesting stuff. It does make you think though, if they electro fished brownies out if these spring creeks just how big the brookies would get - though I know they have shorter lives than the browns but still - 3.4.5 lbs even ?

Posted on: 2013/9/7 12:40
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Re: Brookie versus Brownie habitat ?

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That is a question. I would guess that the larger streams had different strains of brookies that did get larger when brookies were the only game in town. I have also observed in my local streams that have wild browns and brookies the browns push the brookies from the pools and the better runs and they are moved to poorer lies in shallow riffles where no fish get large. I have seen what is purported to be old tracings of mid 19th century pre-stocking brookies from NJ that were 20" long. Before smallmouth bass, rock bass, rainbow trout, and brown trout the brookies had no competition and the bigger ones could get the good lies and grow fat.

Posted on: 2013/9/10 21:45


Re: Brookie versus Brownie habitat ?

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There's no question that browns generally dominate limestone waters, and even downstream freestone areas, while the traditional brookie holdouts are freestone headwaters. There are exceptions in both directions, but I'm not sure how you got your prejudice, as it's not a normal one.

The question to why. Well, I don't think its as much temperature related as a question of dominance and pH. Browns are dominant, I think. Where browns can establish strong populations, they do, to the detriment of the brookies.

The traditional holdout of brookie land is headwater freestoners. Why? Acid. Such streams are more acidic, and brookies can handle acid better than browns. At least that's the obvious consensus. I'm sure habitat type, bottom structure (breeding), etc. have something to do with it too. Because even in those headwaters, you typically do get the occasional brown. Further, water temperatures from breeding-->hatching might have a lot to do with it (that would be late fall through winter into early spring, limestoners staying too warm).

Our headwater freestone streams stay quite cold. Often colder than most limestoners. But they are very small, fast, streams in the forested mountains.

Point being though, is that brookies used to be EVERYWHERE, browns are invaders. Browns have pretty much taken over wherever they want. In spots that browns can't establish real strong populations, well, those are the places where brookies still reign.

Even in freestoners which contain both species, you'll notice a pretty consistent trend. The headwater areas are dominated by brookies, with maybe the odd brown here and there. As you go downstream, it fades to browns, with occasional brookies. Unless there is a waterfall or something separating, there is overlap. Some streams even have "battle lines". i.e. the line separating brown dominance vs. brookie dominance moves each year, it moves down one year, up the next, etc.

Posted on: 2013/9/11 8:54


Re: Brookie versus Brownie habitat ?

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Ph affects which species is present in freestone streams. An even mildly acidic freestone stream will favor brookies. Conversely a limestone stream favors the browns. That doesn't mean the brookies aren't found in limestone streams, there are a few that are still only brookie stream, afterall they evolved on limestone streams as well as freestone streams.
Knowing that you can look at the AKL of a stream and predict what species will be there, or whether it's a mixed fishery, within limits. Yes colder water favors brookies, but that doesn't mean the browns aren't there, but the cold the stream the mosre likely its got brookies and only brookies. Brookies can and do survive in streams that come close to 80 degrees.

Posted on: 2013/10/9 13:34


Re: Brookie versus Brownie habitat ?

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but thats confusing chaz cos browns in Europe typically evolved in acidic streams - most scottish, Irish and Welsh upland streams are peat stained (hence the very smooth whiskey...)

or are you just saying that Brookies are just better in acidic realms than browns ?

and of course in most if not all european limestoners, browns were sharing or outnumbered by Grayling - which disappeared from the Michigan peninsular due to acidity and were replaced by brown trout not brookies...

?

Posted on: 2013/10/9 16:25
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