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A Lancaster County Brookie Stream

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2006/9/9 17:18
From lancaster county
Posts: 6431
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I recently experienced something that I would like to share with you guys and get your thoughts on. Iam by no means an expert in the field of trout enviroment and the effects of other species introduced into there cold water habitat and the effects it could have. While I do understand some concepts about some species...this one im not sure about.

I will not name the stream name but im sure with a little research you could figure out what stream I will be talking about. If you do please keep it off the post or if you would like to discuss it farther using the name shoot me a PM.

Yesterday I went and fished one of Lancaster Countys brook trout streams. This obne in general does get stocked but has a reminant population of wild brook trout. What mostly inhabits the stream are chubs. Hundreds upon thousands of them. I fished a good portion of the creek this day and couldnt buy a wild brook trout. The water had been low and maybe got warm. This stream has a few feeder streams that also have brook trout in them. The one in particular is the stream in question. I decided maybe the brookies ran up into the mouth of that trib to get cold water.

There is a natural barrier and a man made barrier (a small dam with a bottom release gate) that block the stocked trout from running up into this precious Lancaster County stream. When I arrived at the mouth about 500 chubs (no exaggeration) were at the mouth of the small trib. I noticed how the natural barrier is gone now and fish could run up a small ways into the trib now.

The smaller trib is very low and the damn will do nothing to avoid fish from running up into it. I thought, what the heck lets see how the brookies are doing. I went upstream aways and was able to catch 3 nice brookies right off the bat in some riffles. I went a short distance down stream and saw 2 fish in the 11-12 inch range rising at the end of a nice pool. I tied on a bluewingedolivedun as they were hatching on this day. I caught one of the fish and it was a chub.

My concern is I have never seen a chub in this stream in the years and years that I have been fishing it. With the barriers doing nothing to stop the fish from running upstream I caught about another 10 of those things. Some were large too. What affect is this going to have on the brook trout population if any? Will they eat thier eggs this spawn? Will they eat the smaller trout? Am I over thinking this?

Note that farther upstream the stream cascades down a ropck cliff and of course above that were no chubs. Should I be worried about the lower half of the creeks brookies? If so, what can be done?

Posted on: 2008/10/2 20:01
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Re: A Lancaster County Brookie Stream

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Here is something I just found that scares me even more. I have highlighted the important parts and pick out from it what was important. Here is the original link:
http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/ ... ings/00/app-rvr00/2-6.pdf



"Fish Biologists also know that just as they have seen streams become more acid over the years,and the less acid tolerant fish species drop out, and finally only the Brook Trout remain - that when limed and they reverse the acidity, those fish species that compete with the Brook Trout will return. Here and there, for perhaps ten years, they have found that the Brook Trout in stream reaches (sometimes 10 miles long) that are too acid for other fish, do astonishingly well without competition from other fish. They are fast growing with fair numbers that provides more fishing than historically. When it continues to acidity to the point where their own reproductive success becomes limited, even the competition among themselves is reduced. However in just a few more years even the Brook Trout will die out. If because of acidity the Creek Chub has left the stream it is important that this competitor and predator on Brook Trout be prevented from re-entry after liming. In the warmer, lower end of our Brook Trout streams the Creek Chub is favored and dominates. The limed stream is, of course, no cooler. True "reclamation" demands "restoration" to the original "Brook Trout only"fish populations that existed in the cooler streams of the original forest. We find today if the headwater stream is cool enough no other fish species is present. Trout Biologists also know where they have eliminated the other fish species, the Brook Trout have been able to inhabit the warmer, lower stream reach that is other-wise Creek Chub dominated with only a few larger Brook Trout present in the spring. Creek Chubs and other fish species should not be allowed to return to streams made again inhabitable by liming. This is a great opportunity, a historical opportunity, to re-introduce if necessary Native Brook Trout from the same drainage and gene pool; or to simply allow the remaining acid tolerant Brook Trout population to expand into the lower, warmer reach. This bigger water has much more productivity and security for a more robust population. It is ironic that the Creek Chub is a "cool-water" fish with a very limited range of longitudinal distribution in a stream. They are not present when it warms only a little more. They are shortly replaced downstream by the Horneyhead Chub - without overlap. They are not found in any stream much over 50' wide. It would be fortunate if all the Creek Chubs were eliminated down to where the stream was this wide and warm, then there would be no reinvasion by Creek Chubs after liming. This could have been done quite easily on a number of larger limed streams - but it is too late - they have returned. In some places a waterfall would, and does, prevent re-entry. This is so important a consideration that barriers (culverts, dams, etc., to upstream movement of Creek Chubs and even Brown Trout, should be part of the plan. Also if a barrier is needed, no respectable plan should be submitted without the provision, plans and funds for it."



I dont know what the acidity of this stream is. It is possible it will become to acidic for them to stay. Also after doing more research it seems that:

What Brook Trout Eat:
The food of the young brook trout is mostly small insects. Older fish eat larger invertebrates including many types of aquatic (water) insects, sideswimmers, snails, and worms. They also feed on minnows and other small fishes.

What eats Brook Trout:
Brook trout have few aquatic predators because few piscivorous ("fish-eating") fish live where they do. Larger trout, especially brown trout, eat smaller brook trout. They are more likely to be eaten by such fish-eating birds as herons, and kingfishers. Otters and snapping turtles also prey upon them.

What Chubs eat:
Almost all  fish begin eating small copepods and waterfleas from the water column as larvae. So do creek chubs, but they soon begin foraging in vegetation for larval insects. As they grow, they add a greater variety of aquatic insect larvae, terrestrial (land) insect, and eventually small fish. Because they eat so many different items from different places in their habitat, they are said to be opportunistic feeders.

What Eats Chubs:Creek chubs are a main larval item for many predators, such as walleyes, brown trout, northern pike, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass. Because they often school in lakes, loons, kingfishers, and mergansers also commonly eat them. Little creek chubs even have to watch out for bigger creek chubs. Not too many humans eat creek chubs, although they reportedly are tasty. Some anglers and bait dealers harvest them for bait.

Its safe to say they will fight for dominace. I see this as a very bad thing for this creek.

Posted on: 2008/10/2 20:19
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Re: A Lancaster County Brookie Stream
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Great info Sal. There was a time when I killed creek chubs I caught while fishing for wild trout in a stream. I don't anymore, but I'm now not sure if that is a wise decision. Anyone have any thoughts?

Posted on: 2008/10/3 6:38


Re: A Lancaster County Brookie Stream
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I have a thought: let Mother Nature determine the characteristics of the creek.

Posted on: 2008/10/3 6:50
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Re: A Lancaster County Brookie Stream

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2006/10/25 12:30
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Sal,

There may be a temperature link to the chubs. Earlier this spring I was fishing the Gunpowder (go figure) and they had not adjusted the gates on the dam to allow for bottom release yet. The water was quite warm, i guessing upper 60's. I caught more chubs than trout that day, at a rate of probably 3 to 1. Since then with the colder water I have never seen a chub. Just another piece of the puzzle.

Steve

Posted on: 2008/10/3 7:32
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Re: A Lancaster County Brookie Stream
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Jack wrote: “I have a thought: let Mother Nature determine the characteristics of the creek.”

Jack,

I agree with you in principle, but we (humans) have messed things up so much on this planet, sometimes it may be necessary to intercede to try to rebalance nature. The problem is that, since I’m not a fish biologist, I have no idea if what I’m doing is hurting or helping the stream. As far as anglers, one thing I can tell you is that 100% of the creek chubs are released, while many 7”+ trout are legally kept by anglers. If this goes on day after day, with respect to the fish population make-up, what result would you expect in such a stream?

I won’t even venture a guess as to how many streams have been altered by dams, runoff, the removal of riparian trees and plants, mining, development, etc., thus resulting in a falling population of wild trout and booming population of fish such as creek chubs.

I fished the Saucon in the Lehigh Valley two weeks ago. It is a wild trout stream in the section I fished, and is under Trophy Trout regulations. I saw very few trout, yet there were areas that the bottom was black with chubs and suckers. They are all released by anglers, while the trout, supposedly only the bigger trout, are kept. I some forked sticks propped along the bank, no fewer than 5 styrofoam bait containers along the stream, and two empty packs of snelled hooks (I picked them up and disposed of them properly).

Like I said, I do not have enough knowledge to know if helping to reduce the population of creek chubs in a stream is a good thing…….but common sense will tell ya??

Posted on: 2008/10/3 7:38


Re: A Lancaster County Brookie Stream

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2006/9/11 13:05
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If you put up dams, then the brook trout couldn't migrate to and from the stream, which we now is so important in their yearly routines, as well as for varying the gene pool.

In my fishing experience, isolated brookie streams (where fish cannot leave and return, and no new fish can enter) the fishing is poor and the fish aren't as colorful or as large.

I say let the stream be, the brookies can handle themselves. Once they start glupping down small chubs they should grow larger and keep the population down. However, I would be tempted to do a flying release on any large chubs I catch; you know the kind on the hookset/backcast.

Posted on: 2008/10/3 8:04
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Re: A Lancaster County Brookie Stream

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I don't think killing chubs will make the slightest difference in the trout population. If the conditions are right for brook trout, they'll do fine. If not, they won't.

Trout need good water quality, good water temps, good physical habitat etc. It's all about maintaining the quality of the stream.

Both chubs and brook trout are native fish and both have existed here for a very long time. Chubs didn't drive out the brookies, or vice versa.

Posted on: 2008/10/3 8:28


Re: A Lancaster County Brookie Stream

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Quote:
I have a thought: let Mother Nature determine the characteristics of the creek.


So your ready to stop stocking wild trout streams jack?

Basically my concern is just beacuse it is a small creek and it never had chubs before this. As you guys think, it might not be a problem. I just wondered what your imput was because I have never thought about it before or seen this situation before. It would be nice to hear what Mike K has to say on the subject. I might just give him a ring.

P.S. I did send the big chubs flying But rather than a backcast it was more like a fast ball.

Posted on: 2008/10/3 8:49
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Re: A Lancaster County Brookie Stream
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Sal wrote: “It would be nice to hear what Mike K has to say on the subject. I might just give him a ring.”

Great Sal. I know you will, but please share any info you get if you contact Mike.




Troutbert wrote: “I don't think killing chubs will make the slightest difference in the trout population. If the conditions are right for brook trout, they'll do fine. If not, they won't.”

Troutbert, I agree with what you wrote, my only question is that given angler harvest of wild trout, even if it averages only 5 mature trout per week in a stream, during the course of an entire harvest season that lasts for over five months through the spring and summer, that’s a lot of fish for a small or medium sized stream. Mature breeding trout are harvested, while all juvenile and adult creek chubs are released and left to breed, year after year after year. Would that not put throw off the natural balance in the fish population of a wild trout stream? Is it not possible that the stream is now at it’s carrying capacity for fish, but with a population is now made up of mostly creek chubs? What do you think? Not possible or probable in some streams?

Posted on: 2008/10/3 9:49


Re: A Lancaster County Brookie Stream

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Sal:

I wouldn't really worry about chubs invading this stretch of creek.
If the conditions are right for them to be there, - they're likely going to wind up there anyway.
One of my favorite trout streams also happens to have a lot of bass and fallfish in it also. But they don't seem to bother the trout at all, which are some of the healthiest, fighting fish anywhere.
I've also seen carp in all of out best trout streams, - and they don't seem to pose any problems.

Posted on: 2008/10/3 10:44


Re: A Lancaster County Brookie Stream
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Well, I think expansion of my thought has been covered, but to emphasize them-- throw as many chubs on the bank as you wish, I don't think it will change the dynamic much; if there has been a change in relative populations, then it is either cyclical or a result of environmental changes and not much can be done about it.

Posted on: 2008/10/3 11:00
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Re: A Lancaster County Brookie Stream
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Let’s enlist Farmer Dave in an experiment in one the ponds on his estate. He will have to stock 500 trout and 500 chubs in the pond. Dave will fish it and catch 5 mature trout each week and keep them for a five-month period (20 weeks). He will release all chubs caught. Assuming both species are equally prolific, what would the makeup of population in the pond be in one year? Three years? Five years?

Actually, I did a paper on something similar to this as an undergraduate in college. I forget the exact details, but in a few short years the balance of the population was nearly completely skewed toward the species with the lower rate of predation. And I recall the rate to be only a 10% variance in the rate of predation in one species, such as the example above.

Just saying………not possible??

Posted on: 2008/10/3 11:29


Re: A Lancaster County Brookie Stream
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You may see a different result in a stream where the fish can migrate about and avoid predation by hook and hackle and fill in gaps caused by such predation. I'm sure any concerted effort could skew populations, but a few anglers trying to do this in a stream would probably fail. If you are suggesting that the circumstances salvelinus observed could be the result of selective predation of the trout, I would have to know that the stream is both very accessible and sustains significant harvest pressure before I'd think that were true. I didn't see those details revealed and assumed, based upon what I read, that the stream section was more remote and pressure light, hence my thoughts about the population dynamics being more of a natural phenomenon.

Posted on: 2008/10/4 9:16
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Re: A Lancaster County Brookie Stream

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About eating them this is the only reference I could find.

Quote: "I have eaten some creek chub, and if I recall correctly they were somewhat like young catfish. best fith the flour or cornmeal in a deep fry.

I have heard some people say if there are creek chub there are no trout but we disprove that all of the time. We have been known to launch chubs to the shores. More due to barbless hooks and too hard a set then on purpose.

I have a friend that lives in the area. Send me a PM and I'll have him check it out. He knows and fishes quite a few native brookie streams and has a great appreciation for them as well.

Posted on: 2008/10/4 9:47



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