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Wild Brown Trout and Special Regs

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2006/11/10 8:32
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A recent call that I received was frustrating enough that I decided to put together a refresher summary of wild brown trout responses to special regulations in Pa. for members of this board. Some have seen this before, and I apologize if this is too repetitive. For others, however, it may be new information.

At the outset let me say to all that this does not refer to wild brown trout streams sections that are also being stocked. We're talking purely wild brown trout here.

Brown trout (BT)responses to special regs were examined from 19 limestoners and 23 freestoners.

In limestoners the legal size (7") and longer BT emperically (means the number got larger, but it may not be anything more than natural variation or sampling error unless the number is statistically significant, ) increased from 826 per mile to 1635 per mile. This was not a statistically significant change (meaning there was substantial variation in the responses of individual stream sections). It was a substantial increase even if it was not caused by the regs. About three quarters of the limestoners showed an emperical increase in 12" and longer BT as well.

In the freestoners legal size (7") brown trout (BT) emperically decreased from 433 per mile to 308 per mile. Again, this decrease was not statistically significant. Few (only 4) freestoners responded favorably, and one of these was Codorus Creek, a tail-race fishery that is fairly fertile....not a typical freestoner. About one third of the freestoners showed an increase in the abundance of 12" and longer BT.

Conclusion: Freestoners are not generally not appropriate for special regualtions designed to improve the abundance or size distribution of brown trout populations in Pa. Brown trout abundance, on the other hand, improved substantially in limstoners following special reg implementation despite the fact that the change was statistically insignificant.

When it comes to special regs on brown trout streams in Pa., a betting man or lady would certainly bet on limestoners rather than freestoners for a positive response. The statewide creel survey on wild trout streams helped shed more light on the impact of harvest on wild brown trout streams. The harvest rate per mile on wild brown trout streams was only 1 per mile on average. With such a low harvest rate, the average brown trout stream(the vast majority of the streams) would never respond to a special regulation.

Posted on: 2006/12/6 20:33


Re: Wild Brown Trout and Special Regs

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[quote]
In limestoners the legal size (7") and longer BT emperically (means the number got larger, but it may not be anything more than natural variation or sampling error unless the number is statistically significant, ) increased from 826 per mile to 1635 per mile. This was not a statistically significant change (meaning there was substantial variation in the responses of individual stream sections). It was a substantial increase even if it was not caused by the regs. About three quarters of the limestoners showed an emperical increase in 12" and longer BT as well. ..........

When it comes to special regs on brown trout streams in Pa., a betting man or lady would certainly bet on limestoners rather than freestoners for a positive response. [quote]

Interesting stuff. I'm not very good at math. Could you explain how and increase from 826 trout per mile to 1635 per mile is not a statistically significant change? I'm not being sarcastic, I somehow managed to avoid taking statistics class, and it looks to me like the population increased 97.9%, nearly a doubling.

Isn't that the same as saying that managing unstocked limestone streams under "general" regulations has the effect of suppressing wild brown trout populations to a level of about one half of a stream's potential?

And this is for non-stocked streams, and doesn't even include the additional harmful effects of stocking.

Don't you think the current management suppresses wild brown trout populations on limestone streams such as Kishacoquillas Creek and Bald Eagle Creek (from Spring Creek confluence to backwaters of Fosters Sayers Dam)? These limestoners have wild brown trout, are stocked and under state-wide regs.

Doing these studies is great, but the knowledge should be applied wherever there is potential to increase wild trout populations. Kishacoquillas Creek and Bald Eagle Creek appear to have that potential.

I know this in not your region, but I believe you are an avid angler and are familiar with many streams throughout the state.

Posted on: 2006/12/6 21:03


Re: Wild Brown Trout and Special Regs

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The numbers 826 and 1635 are just averages, meaning that they are points of central tendency in two ranges of data points. There is so much overlap or close approximation in their individual ranges of points that the statistic is saying that the two means came from the same population of data points, even though the means may "look different." The data are scattered. Not only that, but the statistic is saying that if the same studies were repeated 99 more times, in 95 of the grand total of 100 times the results would be the same...the overlap or close approximation in the data from before and after special regulations were applied would be so great that you couldn't statistically tell the difference. In a worst case scenario the averages might even flip-flop in some of those 99 more trials.

As a result, the data are not saying that the trout populations were only reaching 50% of their potential before special regs were applied.

As for the specific waters that you have mentioned, I am unaware of the amount of use and harvest that they receive; however, as I frequently drive by Kish I am amazed that I never, and I mean never, see anyone fishing the narrows. It looks like excellent big brown trout water and is one of the first places I would go to fish if I were fishing that stream.

Generally speaking, limestoners (brown trout) in urban areas or close to population centers have potential to see some noticeable impact from fishing pressure, but it depends upon the individual water involved and the pressure has to be extreme, and more importantly the harvest has to be very high. We really aren't seeing that kind of harvest on wild brown trout streams. High fishing pressure is infrequent in Pennsylvania on unstocked wild brown trout streams, except on a few limestoners and freestoners. Perhaps the two streams that you mentioned are exceptions, but I would bet that most individuals on this board would come up with exceptions. There just can't be THAT many exceptions or creel data would not show that wild brown trout harvest is as low as it is in Pa.

Posted on: 2006/12/7 4:15


Re: Wild Brown Trout and Special Regs

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Quote:

Mike wrote:
Generally speaking, limestoners (brown trout) in urban areas or close to population centers have potential to see some noticeable impact from fishing pressure, but it depends upon the individual water involved and the pressure has to be extreme, and more importantly the harvest has to be very high. We really aren't seeing that kind of harvest on wild brown trout streams. High fishing pressure is infrequent in Pennsylvania on unstocked wild brown trout streams, except on a few limestoners and freestoners. Perhaps the two streams that you mentioned are exceptions, but I would bet that most individuals on this board would come up with exceptions. There just can't be THAT many exceptions or creel data would not show that wild brown trout harvest is as low as it is in Pa.

Mike, here is an anecdotal situation that illustrates one of the exceptions: I was fishing a Class A freestoner in a fairly populated area (one of Chaz's favorites) when a WCO stopped to check my license and chat. We had a nice discussion about where the fishing is good on this stream, and he told me about seeing some fishermen upstream recently with stringers full of fish. He said it was too bad, but it's legal. Now this was at my favorite section of the stream where I could always count on catching a number of legal sized browns. If just these 2 fisherman decide they want to have more wild trout dinners, it won't be long until my favorite section of this stream is no longer worth visiting (if it is now - I've been there one time since and saw a few scatter but didn't catch any. I'm not sure if this is due to my poor fishing skills, or if there were just a few small ones left).

So, while harvest of wild trout may be generally low, in some areas a few fishermen can pretty much destroy the fishing enjoyment for many others. Why not have harvest restrictions on wild trout, considering that it appears that there aren't many people who harvest them anyway, but it could save some areas from overharvest by just a few?

Posted on: 2006/12/7 8:42


Re: Wild Brown Trout and Special Regs

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The more I read this type of propaganda....special regs do not work/not necessary, harvest of wild fish is almost nil, then why do we need a PFBC? I am only partially kidding.

Posted on: 2006/12/7 9:49


Re: Wild Brown Trout and Special Regs

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The study you referred to was on unstocked streams.

Kish Creek and Bald Eagle Creek downstream from Spring Creek are both stocked streams. And they are both very heavily fished.

On Kish Creek, I've seen creels full, with a mix of stockies and wild browns, which the local people refer to as "holdovers."

On Bald Eagle I ran into 2 guys who both had their limits, 5 fish apiece on stringers. Even in Sept and Oct. I see people fishing down here. One day in August I was fishing the junction pool and a flyfisher showed me the 3 trout he had in his creel. All 3 were wild browns.

A betting man would pick these two streams as prime places to increase wild brown trout populations through management changes.

Posted on: 2006/12/7 10:21


Re: Wild Brown Trout and Special Regs

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Mike

Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Absence. I hope you understand that statement? As WulffMan said, it doesnt take a many anglers to hurt wild trout populations with a 5 fish creel limit at 7". This is obsurd that our fisheries management people can make such statements about such a precious resource. I have read both Wild Trout and Stocked Trout reports. And the management strategies in the Wild Trout report is a "stretch" to say the least and IMO will not boad well for healthy wild trout populations in PA. Where this is all coming from within the PFBC is unknown to me.

Another surprising tidbit I found that may shed some light on PA's fisheries is that for a state that has more trout water than any other in the US ( I think that is right?), PA out of state licenses sales are not all that impressive. What does that say about our fisheries? It says to me that in general, anglers are not overly interested in fishing in PA. Some may like it that way but it says alot about our fisheries and how "appealing" they are to anglers elsewhere.....WHY???

For example, Arkansas, a state with very little trout water, almost doubles the amount of out of state license sales than PA. Cost of a license in both states cost within 5-10 dollars of each other.

So why do people go to Arkansas to fish and not PA??? Its not a hard question to answer, in my mind at least.

LR.

Posted on: 2006/12/7 11:13


Re: Wild Brown Trout and Special Regs
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Quote:

So why do people go to Arkansas to fish and not PA??? Its not a hard question to answer, in my mind at least.

LR.


Please share your wisdom with the rest of the class, if you don't mind, because I am thinking of dozens of possible explanations.

Posted on: 2006/12/7 11:19
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Re: Wild Brown Trout and Special Regs

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I would think that it has more to do with the trout water in surrounding states. Arkansas is in an island in an otherwise trout free region, where as the states neighboring PA offer some destinations.

Also IMO PA is in out cold when it comes to advertising the state and what we have to offer to the rest of the country.

Posted on: 2006/12/7 12:44


Re: Wild Brown Trout and Special Regs

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Quote:

vcregular wrote:
The more I read this type of propaganda....special regs do not work/not necessary, harvest of wild fish is almost nil, then why do we need a PFBC? I am only partially kidding.


Of course there would always be the need, or desire, for the hatchery system. And for law enforcement to make sure that anglers and boaters are buying the required licenses, to ensure revenue. So I don't see the PFBC going away.

But, if I was a fisheries manager, I don't think I press too hard on the point that fisheries management has no effect on fish populations.

The higher-ups may have hidden motives for wanting to conduct these studies that show fisheries management techniques have no effect.

Budgets are tight. Hatchery operations costs are rising. License sales are falling. We need to cut costs. See what I mean?

Don't like this conspiracy theory? I've got others.

Posted on: 2006/12/7 13:54


Re: Wild Brown Trout and Special Regs

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LR, in 2 words, BIG FISH!

Posted on: 2006/12/7 16:11


Re: Wild Brown Trout and Special Regs

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>>I would think that it has more to do with the trout water in surrounding states. Arkansas is in an island in an otherwise trout free region, where as the states neighboring PA offer some destinations.>>

Sorta, kinda...

Actually, Missouri has some high quality wild trout fisheries, just not a whole lot of them. Eastern OK, in the Ouachita Mtns. also has some trout water, although it is pretty much all a planted fishery.

I'd say the major reason AR does this well with NR licensees targeting trout is that it is a big fish destination. I think the current world record brown trout is from Arkansas, the Little Red River. They also have a coldwater program that is on the upswing in both quality and popularity, as does MO, for that matter. Interest in trout fishing and the innovative improvement of cold water programs in the northeast are, at best, in stasis

Pennsylvania's trout fishery, while very good and especially quite varied, is not really that dissimilar from that of the rest of the states in the region in terms of quality and realistically, does not offer even a quarter of the truly large trout opportunities of the Ozark waters.

You should be glad it is so, IMO. More solitude...:0)

Posted on: 2006/12/7 16:15


Re: Wild Brown Trout and Special Regs

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BTW, while yes there are exceptions, my view is that Mike is spot-on in his assessment that special regs do little for freestone BT pops.

Posted on: 2006/12/7 16:17


Re: Wild Brown Trout and Special Regs

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2006/9/10 21:53
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What "specila regs"are we talking about? I kow whta fish, I know what kinds of streams, I know what the numbers are. But if we are making conclusions baased on the effects of special regs, shouldn't he tell us what the "special" regs are? Did I miss an earlier post or something?

And a side note: If he's saying BT don't do well or resond to special regs in freestoners as compared to limestoners...maybe the problem isn't the regs... its the fish. maybe there should be brookies or something else in that stream.

But I'd still like to know WHAT special regs...C&R. DH, TT, ALO, FFO...slot limits, size limits, creel limits....What?

Posted on: 2006/12/7 16:34


Re: Wild Brown Trout and Special Regs

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Quote:

RLeeP wrote:
BTW, while yes there are exceptions, my view is that Mike is spot-on in his assessment that special regs do little for freestone BT pops.


If that's true, then Slate Run and Cedar Run would support the same populations as new if they were switched to "general" regulations as under "special" regulations.

Would you favor 5 fish per day, and no tackle restrictions for Slate and Cedar?

Posted on: 2006/12/7 22:10



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