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Re: Big Spring Habitat Work

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I fished it Friday. I have to say I HATE it. I don't get the need for this. To me it is one of the most historic and naturally beautiful stream in the state. To take and put telephone poles and large rocks in it make it look fake and like any other stream. I am in favor of the stream being tightened up and those improvements look good and will be easily covered up by growth. But the poles just look awful. IMO. Also, the water is flowing worse below the area that was worked on. It must have been 8-12'' lower in waterlevel. It was very silty from a trackho being in the stream I assume. And this stream does not flow in a manor that will clear itself out.

I'm lost on this one. The stream has taken on so many changes it doesn't know what it is. It was a hatchery and then that was a bad idea(which I agreed with). It was needed the boards taken out, it need the boards put in. Let's break through the dam locks. Let's remove whats left of the remaints, it doesn't look natural. Let's make it look more natural. Great. No wait, let's throw logs/poles all over the place every 20 ft. That's natural.

How can you say a stream needs improvement with a very healthy population of 20" streambred fish, rainbows and browns, some fish well over 30''. But sure lets make it hold 6''-10'' fish only. (and yes I know there are a few large bt).

I don't understand the inclination of some to make it a brook trout only stream. It doesn't look like a brook trout stream. It doesn't fish like a brook trout stream. The only place they hold consistantly is in the ditch and they are super skiddish and do not behave in a tradional manor of said fish. I'm with the others that want to embrace the rainbows.

This is just my opinion and I no credential or knowledge of stream resturation, so I'm sure some will be quick to berate this, but I'm just posting my observations.

Posted on: 2010/10/11 10:08


Re: Big Spring Habitat Work
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I respect your opinion Bottomroller, but there isn’t one high quality limestoner brook trout stream left in PA. Yeah, some have a few brook trout mixed in with the rainbows and/or browns, but none are what could be considered a primary brook trout stream. Big Spring would be the one and only if the restoration is successful.

Not that far in the past, BS was a great brookie fishery. The hatchery was built by the FBC caused the population of brookies to crash. In the hay day of the "the Ditch", that was all there was to fish since the water downstream was almost devoid of fish.

I’ve only “seen” the stream restoration project on video and pics and it is a little ugly right now, but I am confident, when the vegetation fills in the stream will look a lot more natural. Also I am equally confident that the fish will begin to hold in the restored section and thrive. Give it time.

Posted on: 2010/10/11 10:50


Re: Big Spring Habitat Work

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Quote:
I respect your opinion Bottomroller, but there isn’t one high quality limestoner brook trout stream left in PA.


Incorrect. There is another one.

Posted on: 2010/10/11 11:46
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Re: Big Spring Habitat Work
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Thanks for the link Afish. Some bad editing there - they shoulda used Skybay.
That's the section we fished last time when you and Frederick were here and a bit upstream from where we fished it with Jay.


The brookies in BS were always found in the largest numbers in the upper reaches of the creek (at least since the 1930s when the PFBC survey records become available) mainly in the mill pond which is now long gone and known today as the "ditch." Keep in mind, the PFBC hatchery that was closed in 2001 originally went on line about 1970. Long before that, there was a private hatchery downstream where this work is taking place that was widely believed by locals, including Charlie Fox, to be harming brookies and causing rainbows to become dominant. The debate about restoring BS brookies, competition with rainbows, and the problems caused by hatcheries are nothing new.

Sal,
While other limestone brookie streams exist here in PA (as Chaz has long reminded us of) BS is the only one that is nationally known and managed by the state for public accessibility.

Posted on: 2010/10/11 12:06


Re: Big Spring Habitat Work
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Quote:

Afish wrote:
I respect your opinion Bottomroller, but there isn’t one high quality limestoner brook trout stream left in PA.


Sal wrote:
Incorrect. There is another one.



......

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Posted on: 2010/10/11 12:14


Re: Big Spring Habitat Work

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From Enola, Pa.
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afish

Thanks for helping this old dummy out!

PaulG

Posted on: 2010/10/11 12:41


Re: Big Spring Habitat Work

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2008/10/16 14:55
From Central PA
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Quote:

Afishinado wrote:
I respect your opinion Bottomroller, but there isn’t one high quality limestoner brook trout stream left in PA. Yeah, some have a few brook trout mixed in with the rainbows and/or browns, but none are what could be considered a primary brook trout stream. Big Spring would be the one and only if the restoration is successful.

Not that far in the past, BS was a great brookie fishery. The hatchery was built by the FBC caused the population of brookies to crash. In the hay day of the "the Ditch", that was all there was to fish since the water downstream was almost devoid of fish.

I’ve only “seen” the stream restoration project on video and pics and it is a little ugly right now, but I am confident, when the vegetation fills in the stream will look a lot more natural. Also I am equally confident that the fish will begin to hold in the restored section and thrive. Give it time.



Not to start a long back and forth but....I would like to know those reason why those who are in favor of seeing it be a Brookie stream want that. All I hear is that its what it was 70 years ago. That's great, but streams change, culture changes, farms come and go, home depots come and stay. The streams of this area are not in any way shape or form what they were like in the days of Marinaro, Fox, Shenk, etc. We can all read about them and think those are great, what it would have been like, sure, but it isn't. The Letort is a shell of what it was written about, the Big Spring, nothing like what it was in "Rising Trout." I just wonder, thats all. I'm all for brookie fishing and when I want to I head to the Poconos or Potter or many many other streams that are beautiful and filled with brook trout in rips and rapid and pockets and pools, things the BS doesn't have. Besides 9/10 people that fish the BS fish the ditch anyway(where there are brook trout now), and I figure that is unlikely to change even with all the new improvements.

And stream "improvement" is rarely that, imo. Look at the Falling Spring for example, they spent a lot of time and money on the Greenway and it is very nice and looks great, but it has the least amout of fish in it(or thats how it fishes for me), and it has been many years since that project has been finished.

Posted on: 2010/10/11 14:30


Re: Big Spring Habitat Work

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2006/12/13 9:28
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Quote:

PaulG wrote:
afish

Thanks for helping this old dummy out!

PaulG


you aint that old.

I gotta make it over there to Big Spring some day. Now i think I will wait anothr 2 or 3 years to see what happens.

Posted on: 2010/10/11 14:44
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Re: Big Spring Habitat Work

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bottomroller, I'm not very fond of most of the stream improvements that I have seen either, because many simply don't look natural. I'm also not very familiar with the limestone streams having fished freestone streams most of my life. So, my opinion doesn't mean much on this one and I know it.

But I'm keeping an open mind anyway. I've never been there, but from what I had seen in pictures and descriptions, what was there before these improvements was hardly natural. It was an improvement over the hatchery days though. I look at this as a continuation of taking out the hatchery and correcting issues created over many decades.

As far as why brook trout? I'll admit I favor brook trout, and I don't really have a dog in that hunt because I have never been there. But when you or anyone asks why, I have to ask why not brook trout? If it was predominantly a carp fishery, would you object to habitat changes that would favor brook trout? I'm not comparing rainbows to carp, just saying....

For some reason, the Browns never took over this stream when they took over so many other limestone spring creeks, even when policy favored them (as it did on the others). there were plenty of big browns during the hatchery days, but the didn't take it over after the removal of the hatchery, either. Hmmm. Big Browns and Rainbows can be found in so many other limestone streams, some not all that far from that one. Why not have one that has an excellent brook trout fishery. You will still have some browns and rainbows to target. The uniqueness of such a brook trout fishery alone will be good for the economy of the area I would think. I know the way it was before, i wouldn't consider visiting and spending my tourist money. I can catch big browns and rainbows elsewhere. But if this works, I'll be sure to visit it.

Bottom line, the "improvement" were to make it a better trout stream, They made these changes and no more stocking (not even brook trout fingerlings anymore), and then they are just letting the stream determine what type of fishery it will be. Who knows, the changes might make it better for the browns or the rainbows. To me, it sounds (and looks) like it might. If the rainbows stick around, so be it, I'm Ok with that (more or less).

Posted on: 2010/10/11 15:13
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Re: Big Spring Habitat Work
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Bottomroller,
While one can't argue that these streams will always remain unchanged, IMHO, the overall decline of the Cumberland Valley streams, and Big Spring in particular, have been greatly exagerrated. Sure, I didn't fish 'em in the glory days of the 20s-60s but things weren't all that great then either. Back then these streams, and others like Fishermen's Paradise, were heavily stocked, fished by far more fishermen and, for the most part, more polluted than today (although Spring Creek is probably worse today than 50 years ago). Today there's a lot more developed land in the Cumberland Valley but the trout are mostly wild in BS, Letort, and Falling Springs despite some stocking in the lower sections of BS and FS. I constantly hear folks lament the loss of the good ole days and how much greater BS brookie fishing was back in the day but the facts prove that BS today has a world class brookie population comprised of wild fish (at least in the reg water, brookies are still stocked downstream) and that the current population of wild fish is comparable if not better than the days of Fox, Marinaro etc. In the 1960s brookie populations in the "ditch" were somewhere in the range of 230 kg/ha and today those numbers are higher with over 400 fish in that short section. (to be sure, brookie numbers peaked in the 70s but many of these fish were from the hatchery and not wild). In short, the wild brook trout population is probably better today in upper BS than at any time in the last 50 years. The photos below show some examples of wild brookies caught by myself and another forum member from BS in the last year or so. These fish are clearly very healthy and ranged from 11-15 inches. Furthermore, these fish were all caught below the ditch, mostly in the area where the current work project is unfolding. Obviously, brookies such as these would be extremely rare in typical freestone habitat but are common now in this creek. Brook trout are thriving today in the upper sections of BS in numbers likely higher than the good ole days. How these new improvements will effect the fish populations remains to be seen but I'm eager to watch this spot over the next few years,

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Posted on: 2010/10/11 18:26


Re: Big Spring Habitat Work

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Dave,
Thats exactly my point. Thank-you. That was well thought out and well stated. I never fished back then, hell I wasn't even alive. But, I was/am fortunate to talk frequently to some of the old boys, Shenk and the like, and can read, so that is what I base most of those coments off of.

Lets not talk more than the BS, the Letort is a whole nother subject. But like I said I think what you wrote is spot on. The brookies are great rite now, the rainbows are great rite now, the browns though spotty in #'s are heathly and big. Thats what I don't understand, why the rush for stream improvement. It was recovering fine on it own. The stream was fishing great, I mean wonderfully well. And I have enjoyed similar success both in the ditch and below. Heck I even caught a pile of fish on Friday around the restoration.

I guess my point is that I think it uglifies the water. It is not natural to me. And if it was good for you now, why embrace the change just for the sake of change?

Posted on: 2010/10/11 19:27


Re: Big Spring Habitat Work
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Quote:

bottomroller wrote:
I guess my point is that I think it uglifies the water. It is not natural to me. And if it was good for you now, why embrace the change just for the sake of change?


BR,
Yours is an understandable aesthetic point of view and you make a fair point. Certainly, the work area looks pretty rough right now but much of this will "heal" over with vegetation in due course (but you know this).
Further up this thread you wrote that you wonder why folks today would want this stream to be a brookie fishery when it was claimed to be such 70 years ago - and I wrote the response, and included the pics, to make my point that BS is a great brookie fishery TODAY - which you seem to feel can't be the case due to the changes the stream has seen since.
As for my take on the project - I don't see how this project will "uglify" the stream at all. The bottom line is that BS hasn't been in a natural flow state in decades. There have been 6 mill dams removed in the last century and so many stream improvement projects during that same time, from limestone channel walls, to log deflectors, to wing dams, to bank fill.... that the stream long ago lost any natural form. Was it necessary to do this work in order to facilitate brook trout (or any trout) recovery? Clearly not as the brookies have indeed recovered on their own. Will this new project enhance their habitat and improve their numbers in that particular area (or improve rainbow numbers)? I don't know. Had the decision been left up to me I probably would not have voted for this project. Now that it's been done, I think it has turned out well and I have no doubt that it will increase the holding capacity for trout in what had formerly been shallow water.
I suppose, in the end, how one feels about this sort of project depends a lot on how one perceives a stream's past, whether from personal experience or anecdotal accounts, as well as how the stream's physical characteristics impact one's perception of fishing quality. In my view, man made "improvements" have their place and, should they enhance fish populations and deter erosion - then their construction can be worthwhile in some cases.

Posted on: 2010/10/11 20:13


Re: Big Spring Habitat Work

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2008/10/25 14:19
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Bottom Roller,

I hope everyone else bashes the stream improvements on Big Sping and complain about the loss of the big rainbows like you do.

Then, hopefully a few years from now I can go there and catch all those so called 6-10 brookies with my two weight without seeing cars in every parking lot along the stream.

I'd personally rather see natives in any stream in PA. However I hold wild browns in high regard where they thrive too.

And yes, before all the mills and dams and hatcheries, I believe like most streams, Big Spring was much narrower and deeper. I would like to see it even deeper and narrower yet. Throw some more big boulders in there. Little ones too.

Posted on: 2010/10/11 21:31
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Re: Big Spring Habitat Work

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I think I'll take a ride over there and check things out, I've only been there once since they shut down the hatchery

Won't be this week, wife's having car problems, so she took over mine. I'll see what happens and maybe someone would like to hookup and we can check it out together and fish!

PaulG

Posted on: 2010/10/12 8:14


Re: Big Spring Habitat Work

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To be honest we won't know if the stream enhancements will be beneficial for some time, but my first impresseion of the stream was mixed a few years ago when I first saw it.

What I noticed was the stream looked way too wide and shallow with sparse weeds for any really good fish hidey holes in the fly section. It had good bottom substrate, just that 8 inches deep, 40ft. wide and smooth as glass is not an ideal place for a trout to conceal itself from herons and other predators.

Posted on: 2010/10/13 8:43
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