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You never know where you'll find wild trout

Joined:
1/6 7:27
From Lancaster, PA
Posts: 278
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While folks often talk about our wild trout as delicate species, they are in fact quite hardy. As long as the water temperatures are low enough and the stream in question has food and adequate breeding habitat, wild trout--primarily browns--can get established and even thrive.

Case in point: Yesterday I fished a stream that had I not been keyed in on, I would have ignored and with good reason. Its an a semi-urban area and surrounded by roads, some of them major. The stream itself is full of trash. I also saw a large goldfish in one pool--that was a surprise. However, the water is cold, and the siltation is not too bad, and apparently neither is the nutrient run off, as algal blooms were minimal.

That said, its definitely not a stream I would have picked to hold wild trout and yet it does. I started out with a dry fly because I love it, but after only one missed fish who only half-heartedly poked at my fly, I added a HE dropper. Bingo, in the next hole I hooked a nice little wild brown.

I saw many more wild browns in the stream, and as it began to rain, they started feeding on the bottom, so I could easily see the flash of their bodies. The rain was accompanied by lightning and some high winds so I hightailed it out there and didn't get a picture of the stream. Meanwhile, further downstream my friend was fishing underwater and netted three from just two holes, all decent-sized. I did see smaller fish, so reproduction appears to be doing well.

Will I fish here again? Not likely, as I prefer a wild experience. For me fly fishing is as much about being out in nature as it is about the fish. However, it was gratifying to see these fish there and catching a wild brown is always a delight.

That said, to me the ultimate joy is a native brook trout. Earlier yesterday I was overjoyed to find a tiny unlisted stream that still held some natives. Not more than two feet wide and barely a trickle, it still supported a decent population of these hardy fish including plenty of young and this nice-sized hen. Given the size of the stream, I was impressed her size at what appears to be a rather young age.

Jeff

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Posted on: 8/22 11:31


Re: You never know where you'll find wild trout

Joined:
2012/6/5 21:59
From Hanover
Posts: 310
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I don't know, look stocked to me. LOL

Posted on: 8/22 11:35


Re: You never know where you'll find wild trout

Joined:
2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
Posts: 13701
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lol!

Nice fish. It is always cool to find wild fish in oddball places. IMO, trout individuals are fairly delicate, but trout populations are reasonably hardy.

Posted on: 8/22 11:41


Re: You never know where you'll find wild trout

Joined:
1/6 7:27
From Lancaster, PA
Posts: 278
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Quote:

pcray1231 wrote:
lol!

Nice fish. It is always cool to find wild fish in oddball places. IMO, trout individuals are fairly delicate, but trout populations are reasonably hardy.


Can you clarify? I'm interested in your reasons for this viewpoint.

I generally believe that individual trout are more hardy than most people give them credit for. When I think about the massive forces from flooding they manage to survive--especially in many steep-gradient streams--and the number of fish I see with injuries from escaping herons or kingfishers my mind tells me they are pretty tough. Not as tough or hardy as many other fish species, mind you, but more than many people seem to think.

At the population level, overall few survive to adulthood, but I would guess the primary reasons for that are predation and competition for limited resources and primarily the former. The problems that can kill fish such as temperature and pollutants are likely to harm an entire population since they're forced to share the same water, although understandably they can hold out in unaffected tributaries.

Not to open a can of worms (especially since we're fly fishers here) but I suppose that my point is more aimed at those who seem to think the fish are so delicate that the very act of taking a snapshot is life-threatening.

Posted on: 8/22 11:50


Re: You never know where you'll find wild trout

Joined:
1/6 7:27
From Lancaster, PA
Posts: 278
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Quote:

laszlo wrote:
I don't know, look stocked to me. LOL


That red on the adipose gives it away, doesn't it? And here I thought I could fool you guys. LOL

Posted on: 8/22 11:51


Re: You never know where you'll find wild trout

Joined:
4/15 22:32
From Lycoming county
Posts: 74
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This summer I was a part of sampling 150 streams for the unassessed waters program. It never ceases to amaze me the streams that we find trout in. Brown trout are tough fish, we found them in streams that reaked of sewage, were filled with trash and running right through towns. Brookies even surpise you sometimes, in my experience temperature seems to be the most important factor for both species. There were streams that had 50+ brown trout in a 100m stretch and no other fish species were present, no crayfish were observed and insect life looked poor and yet all the fish were fat and healthy and many were over 10in. What baffles you is when you have a beautiful stream with great habitat in a nostly wooded area that does not have trout.

Posted on: 8/22 12:12


Re: You never know where you'll find wild trout

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2006/11/2 8:50
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Quote:

lycoflyfisher wrote:

What baffles you is when you have a beautiful stream with great habitat in a mostly wooded area that does not have trout.


Can you give some examples of these? It wouldn't be considered spot burning to state the locations of streams that do not hold trout.

It's interesting puzzling all this stuff out. There's always an explanation...

Posted on: 8/22 13:05


Re: You never know where you'll find wild trout

Joined:
2009/4/21 16:39
From G-side AKA GLENSIDE
Posts: 724
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Im of the same thinking that a lot of people make the wild trout out to be a very sensitive fish I think else wise. Im not going out laying my fish on the ground or ripping hooks out of their mouth. I think they can take a little abuse. That brown sure is a beauty.

Posted on: 8/22 14:34


Re: You never know where you'll find wild trout

Joined:
2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
Posts: 13701
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Quote:
Can you clarify? I'm interested in your reasons for this viewpoint.


Compared to other species, trout are relatively easy to kill. Hooks a little too deep. Dry hands. Overplaying. Keeping them out of the water too long, etc. I mean, I'm not saying we kill a huge number, as we recognize this weakness and adjust. It's just that, considering what you can put, say, a bass, carp, or catfish through, yes, trout are delicate. Heck, with flatheads, guys used to throw them in the back of the pickup, drive home, show them off, then drive back to the river and release them! They'd be out of the water over an hour.

But at the same time I think we often put a little too much emphasis on saving individual trout, when in the end, it doesn't mean all that much. I'm more concerned about populations. And losing a trout here and there has very little to do with population health. As was said, there are a lot of small fish, relatively few which reach adulthood. The carrying capacity is the carrying capacity. Lose an old fish, and an extra young one survives to adulthood. Perhaps in very highly pressured streams, fishing pressure, as well as handling norms and harvest norms may affect populations. But it's the exception rather than the rule. For the most part, changing the habitat, for better or worse, is the only way to affect overall population health, for better or worse.

In the fish world, trout are among the rabbits in terms of survival strategy. Have lots of offspring relatively frequently, and high mortality isn't such a problem. On the contrary, there are other species which reproduce infrequently, and have very few offspring. Losing, say, 10% of the population beyond the norm in a year is MUCH more damaging to the population as a whole. With trout, a single storm will do that, and in a year or two it's effects will be history.

Quote:
Can you give some examples of these? It wouldn't be considered spot burning to state the locations of streams that do not hold trout.


It depends on your definition of "habitat". If you purely are talking about stream structure, etc., then there are a bunch. If you include water chemistry and temperature as part of "habitat", then the list shrinks considerably. i.e. the vast majority of our "good looking" dead water is due to acid rain and no buffering, AMD, or water temps that get too warm.

If you want me to name streams that lack healthy wild populations due to AMD, acid deposition, or warm water temps, the list will be quite long. But I've many times walked along forested streams, noted lack of trout, and thought "that's a shame, this stream looks good."

Posted on: 8/22 14:34


Re: You never know where you'll find wild trout

Joined:
2009/2/19 19:59
From Mont Co, Pa
Posts: 2040
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Quote:

lycoflyfisher wrote:
What baffles you is when you have a beautiful stream with great habitat in a nostly wooded area that does not have trout.

This is what goes through my head every time I try a new section of Lick Run (Clinton). This is one of the most beautiful streams I've ever fished in my life, and it holds very few trout considering it's about 15 miles long! I've caught very few fish for the time I've put in.
I have fished about 6 miles of this stream and it doesn't get much more remote than this in Pa, so pressure certainly isn't an issue. It has some great stream structure, runs/riffles, awesome pools ect. The temp stays cool most of the time as well. I will say the few trout I have caught there were beautiful examples of wild fish, both brooks and browns. It just seems like there should be many more fish than there is.

Posted on: 8/22 17:50
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Protect the resource, let them go!


Re: You never know where you'll find wild trout

Joined:
8/22 21:02
From Chester Co.
Posts: 59
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That stream you talk about sounds similar to Valley Creek. I went there on Monday and caught two wild browns on caddis. My 11 year old did not catch anything but we some some browns in the mid 20's cruising around. Also saw those large goldfish, etc.

Posted on: 8/22 21:09


Re: You never know where you'll find wild trout

Joined:
1/6 7:27
From Lancaster, PA
Posts: 278
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I'm puzzled as well when I see a perfect stream with no trout, but as others have pointed out, sometimes there's things going on that aren't apparent. Temperature is usually the key, but the next thing that's a problem is dissolved metals. This is typically a function of pH via either AMD or acid rain, but its also a function of the of the geology.

If I think a stream should have trout and I don't get any, I check geology next to see if that's the problem. If it doesn't have any buffering capacity in the bedrock, then the likely culprit is acid rain. I also do some historical research. I've found a few streams which I know should hold trout based on geology, location, temperature, etc. and when I've done some research I've found that they were once deforested for an extended period. Unless there's a connection via downstream waters, those streams can be "perfect" and yet lack trout.

Jeff

Posted on: 8/22 22:10


Re: You never know where you'll find wild trout

Joined:
2010/8/24 20:13
From Bucks County
Posts: 301
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It's been discussed here before, but Rock Run in Loyalsock SF, above the roads should be a damn fine wild trout stream. It has trout but I always feel like it should be much, much better.

Posted on: 8/22 23:06


Re: You never know where you'll find wild trout

Joined:
2006/9/21 0:02
From Pittsburgh
Posts: 4352
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One of my favorite wild trout streams is in an area of the state that isn't really known much for good trout fishing. Most of the other streams in the area get too warm over the summer months to support trout. And there is a fair amount of AMD around also.
However, this stream consistently has good flow and cold temps right through the year. And has a nice population of wild browns, that I've caught up to about 15" in length. And this is a pretty small stream, that I can practically jump across in some spots.
I always kinda thought that there must be some springs feeding it, although I never saw any.
Then one day a few years ago, I wandered upstream further than I had ever gone before. And came across a split, where about three fourths of the streams flow poured in from a feeder that looked quite gray and slimy on the bottom. And had a kinda nasty smell to it.
My first thought was that it was a sewage plant outflow. But the water was quite cold - in the low '50's - a good 10 degrees colder than the rest of the streams temp.
So, I followed the feeder, and shortly came across it's source - which was a small pond completely enclosed by a barbed wire fence And had a large pipe running horizontally across, that was spraying water into it.
I walked around the enclosure, and came across a sign - saying that it was a mine discharge facility.
This cold water is the reason that the stream holds that healthy population of wild browns.
I walked back to the main stream, and went up above the discharge inflow. And found a very low, almost dried up stream that was quite warm, and almost stagnant. ( this was in late summer).

I've never really thought of mine discharge being anything but bad.
But that certainly isn't the case on that water

Posted on: 8/22 23:30


Re: You never know where you'll find wild trout

Joined:
2006/9/9 11:22
From New Castle, PA
Posts: 1693
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The more you look for wild trout, the more you find them.

Posted on: 8/23 0:07



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