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Donegal Ck CRFFO Area, Lancaster Co, 7/16/13

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Ventured into the Donegal Ck CRFFO Area today. At 10 AM it was still 19 deg C or about 67 deg F. Plenty cold for fishing. Fish showed no signs of stress throughout mid-day. This stream would certainly provide an option for those relatively close by anglers looking for a good possibility for warm weather fishing. The fish population is good at the moment, particularly wild browns, with a few fall stocked advanced fingerling present as well...now running 10 to 12 inches or thereabouts. Handled about 20 RT in about 380 yds.

Posted on: 2013/7/16 19:32

Edited by Mike on 2013/7/16 19:49:41


Re: Donegal Ck CRFFO Area, Lancaster Co, 7/16/13

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Note that this was an electrofishing survey. About 60 seven inch and longer wild BT were also handled, with the largest being 17 inches.

Posted on: 2013/7/16 21:23


Re: Donegal Ck CRFFO Area, Lancaster Co, 7/16/13

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Thanks for clarification or I'd soon be hiring you for a guide

Posted on: 2013/7/17 7:49


Re: Donegal Ck CRFFO Area, Lancaster Co, 7/16/13
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While it's probably too early to form solid conclusions about the fingerling program, many PAFF guys were doing well catching the falll stocked fingerlings earlier this year.

Mike,
20 RT in 300 yds seems like a relatively poor survival rate (I would think). Does PFBC intend to continue stocking RT fingerlings later this year?
Good news on the wild browns however.

Posted on: 2013/7/17 8:46


Re: Donegal Ck CRFFO Area, Lancaster Co, 7/16/13

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Yeah great news on the wild brownies.

Considering they dumped a ton of those "fingerlings" in, do you think that they just spread out, or was there a huge mortality rate Mike?

When they were first put in, we were nailing like, 70 trout in an hour. It wasn't even fun (well...my 3 yr old enjoyed it).

Posted on: 2013/7/17 8:54


Re: Donegal Ck CRFFO Area, Lancaster Co, 7/16/13

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I'd just leave the stream go. With those kind of BT numbers, it can clearly support itself as a wild BT fishery. I'd be curious to see how those numbers compare to Codorus Creek, which is another wild BT stream that does allow harvest.

I realize that not stocking the Donegal at all may result in an overall lower biomass, but the stream will support a seemingly healthy population of wild BT.

Posted on: 2013/7/17 13:18


Re: Donegal Ck CRFFO Area, Lancaster Co, 7/16/13

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Fingerling survival was not acceptable in my view. Preliminarily, we estimated that it was around 7.5 percent (napkin calculation).

In contrast, I was quite impressed with the abundance of wild brown trout in comparison to their abundance a decade or a little longer ago.
This could be related to habitat improvements upstream that possibly improved summer water temps and/or a result of substantially reduced adult trout stocking that I requested years ago. At one time the FFO area was overcrowded with stocked adults as a result of combined PFBC and club stockings to the extent that the forage fish base was minimal as a result in comparison to the normal stocked trout section upstream and I thought that wild trout fingerlings were largely being consumed as forage (unlike the stocked section upstream where harvest was typical for a stocked trout section). Soon after overstocking ceased in the DH (now C& R) area fingerlings appeared in fair quantity. Apparently, based on this week's work, that reproductive success continued. Sediment is still a major problem as is the resulting habitat degradation, which is very bad, but the resiliency of wild browns has once again been demonstrated as with Valley Ck and Conowingo Ck. I would not be surprised if the Donegal biomass calculation turns out to be the equivalent of a Class A qualifying biomass at the site that we sampled, which would be quite remarkable if true. I am pleased that those whom I asked to reduce stocking took the request seriously. This is not a shot at adult trout stocking in general, but I have long been concerned about the occasional practice of overstocking on top of PFBC stockings in a largely C & R setting, whether it is a DH area or a C&R area.

Posted on: 2013/7/17 21:21

Edited by Mike on 2013/7/17 21:37:19
Edited by Mike on 2013/7/17 21:41:45
Edited by Mike on 2013/7/17 21:42:35
Edited by Mike on 2013/7/17 21:46:08


Re: Donegal Ck CRFFO Area, Lancaster Co, 7/16/13

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The silt seems worse this year to me. Perhaps a local club could get a project going? this stream is showing us what its got and we owe it more. I did the work on the bridge upstream a bit and the stream is worth the work. I seem to think there was even a TU chapter named after the creek? Is that chapter still around?

Posted on: 2013/7/17 22:13
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Re: Donegal Ck CRFFO Area, Lancaster Co, 7/16/13

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Agreed Tim. When you said "perhaps a local club could get a project going?" that just fumed me haha! Right away I was thinking of a response that included a comment about, "by private club do you mean a TU chapter that is named after the stream!?"

Posted on: 2013/7/17 22:28


Re: Donegal Ck CRFFO Area, Lancaster Co, 7/16/13

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With respect to the adult trout stocking reduction that I mentioned took place some years ago in an effort to benefit the forage base and possibly benefit young wild trout survival, I should add that with reductions in the PFBC statewide stocking program over time, it is likely that not only was private stocking in Donegal's special reg area reduced or discontinued, but PFBC stocking numbers were also likely reduced. So, whether the wild trout population response was to habitat work, including increasing shade upstream, stocking number reductions, or a combination of both, we will never know for sure. The habitat project was quite large and quite impressive, however.

Posted on: 2013/7/17 22:42


Re: Donegal Ck CRFFO Area, Lancaster Co, 7/16/13

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There is room for improvement. That stream can suffer some heavy run-off after a summer storm. I remember when we were working there over last summer. worth the effort IMHO

Posted on: 2013/7/17 23:09
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Re: Donegal Ck CRFFO Area, Lancaster Co, 7/16/13
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Quote:

Mike wrote:
With respect to the adult trout stocking reduction that I mentioned took place some years ago in an effort to benefit the forage base and possibly benefit young wild trout survival, I should add that with reductions in the PFBC statewide stocking program over time, it is likely that not only was private stocking in Donegal's special reg area reduced or discontinued, but PFBC stocking numbers were also likely reduced. So, whether the wild trout population response was to habitat work, including increasing shade upstream, stocking number reductions, or a combination of both, we will never know for sure. The habitat project was quite large and quite impressive, however.


Was stocking reduced outside the special reg section as well?
If so, perhaps the wild trout were also beneficiaries of reduced angling pressure outside the reg section as well?
Although I tend to believe that habitat and water quality are primary drivers of trout population rather than angling pressure.......it does seem to me that a reduction (or better yet complete elimination) of stocking often results in a steep drop in angling pressure by traditional anglers and - following this drop in pressure - a subsequent increase in wild BT population. Valley Creek, although it saw a complete cessation of stocking, is an example of a degraded stream that, when stocking stopped, saw rapid rise in its wild BT in the years that followed.
To be sure, I wouldn't overemphasize this trend as I can think of a good few exceptions - but it's plausible.

Posted on: 2013/7/18 9:25


Re: Donegal Ck CRFFO Area, Lancaster Co, 7/16/13

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The only stocking that occurs is above the FFO stretch and that is by the Donegal Fish and Conservation Association. It is stocked in the spring for "Opening day" and shortly thereafter. Below the FFO stretch is not stocked as the stream terminates at the confluence with the Chiques Creek. Quite honestly, biomass below Rt. 23 has to be extremely low as there is just about zero habitat in that stretch.

Based on the numbers seen in the electroshocking survey and the state's desire to reduce stockings, my gut really tells me that the Donegal should be removed from stocking altogether. Let the pieces fall where they may and let the BT exist in the stream in numbers that can be supported by habitat and food supply. Angling pressure may decline as a result of less fish to catch, but that isn't a bad thing.


Posted on: 2013/7/18 11:31


Re: Donegal Ck CRFFO Area, Lancaster Co, 7/16/13

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I agree that with the overall health of the wild fish and lack of survival of the fingerlings, it seems intuitive to eliminate stocking altogether.

Question: are clubs that raise fish for supplemental stocking responsible for funding those programs or are they subsidized by the PaFBC?

Posted on: 2013/7/18 12:08


Re: Donegal Ck CRFFO Area, Lancaster Co, 7/16/13

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In the case of the DFCA, they receive an "allotment" from the PFBC to raise for the kids' fishing derby. The food costs, energy costs for the nursery, etc., are all funded by the club. I'm fairly confident the same applies across the state for clubs that receive fish from the PFBC...

Posted on: 2013/7/18 13:16






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