Adding Insult to Injury

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troutbert

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The brook trout looks like a hatchery fish.

The brown trout looks like a wild fish.
 
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troutbert

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Using online maps such as Acmemapper, you can look at aerial imagery of Hammer Creek and tributaries.

The riparian vegetation situation looks very bleak in the upper valley section. If there was a wide buffer of vigorous natural vegetation along the streams and tribs, that would improve the condition of the stream a great deal.
 
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You were reading my mind. That's not a native brookie, but the brown does look wild.
Does the sportsman’s club stock brook trout? I do t think I have ever caught a stocked brook trout but several natives 9-10 inches.

Upper hammer is usually boom or bust every couple of years. I suspect that sedimentation leads to poor spawning and inconsistent year classes of fish.

When the 0-2 year class density is low it allows the 3+ year classes to flourish and creates the perception of a healthy wild/native stream. The fish reach legal size and are harvested or die of natural causes and then the whole cycle starts over again.
 
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Using online maps such as Acmemapper, you can look at aerial imagery of Hammer Creek and tributaries.

The riparian vegetation situation looks very bleak in the upper valley section. If there was a wide buffer of vigorous natural vegetation along the streams and tribs, that would improve the condition of the stream a great deal.
I think when many people look at a stream like hammer on google maps all the myths about what can and can’t be a brook teout stream people hear about streams were displacement is often happening from invasive trout species comes crashing down. I’ve walked almost every every foot of the section your looking at and your looking at water flowing over legacy sediment with a stream buried underneath on average probably 5 to 7 feet under it for the most part.
 
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If inbreeding is going to yield fish like those, I’ll take it. All kidding aside, within a species genetic control of growth rates is usually masked by environmental conditions. Food (quantity and quality) is the most important factor affecting the growth of fish, assuming water temps are suitable. In the case of limestoners groundwater sources at 51-52 deg F extend growing seasons in comparison to freestoners. Additionally, forage biomass is typically greater in limestoners, at least those that have not been substantially degraded by various sources of pollution.

Furthermore, Hammer is a blended system with at least one limestone and multiple freestone ST populations that can freely mix, so it is not as though these populations are genetically isolated.
Well you may be take that but our children might not get to because size is as we know not a surrogate for adaptive potential in-terms of dealing with stressors. Thats why managing specifically for larger brook trout above all else is a fishing goal not a conservation one. There are a few free stone tribs but the barrier is still significant from a conservation genetics standpoint given the upper hammer is not a big system. Also if there is hatchery introgression a genetic rescue would have much lower risk of outbreeding depression tou got to keep that in mind. Studies have show introgression was low in some larger systems but it may be more likely in smaller systems. People much smarter than myself have inquired about that barrier and its conservation genetics implications.
 
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troutbert

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I think when many people look at a stream like hammer on google maps all the myths about what can and can’t be a brook teout stream people hear about streams were displacement is often happening from invasive trout species comes crashing down. I’ve walked almost every every foot of the section your looking at and your looking at water flowing over legacy sediment with a stream buried underneath on average probably 5 to 7 feet under it for the most part.
My post was about the riparian vegetation situation looking very poor along Hammer Creek on aerial imagery. Since you've walked the whole thing, what observations do you have on the riparian vegetation?
 
wildtrout2

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Does the sportsman’s club stock brook trout? I do t think I have ever caught a stocked brook trout but several natives 9-10 inches.
No idea what a local sportsman's club could be doing, or not. But, seeing the smaller size head on that fish in relation to the fairly good body size leads me to think it's not a native. Natives usually have a larger head in relation to their body size, with much more vivid coloration as well. jmo
 
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My post was about the riparian vegetation situation looking very poor along Hammer Creek on aerial imagery. Since you've walked the whole thing, what observations do you have on the riparian vegetation?
Oh i know I wasnt saying those were your ideas about a brook trout stream. My answer in short is if you walks on mars with all that red dirt but imagine someone tilled it. No trees period for much of the upper watershed. Thats why Greg Wilson from donegal and I decided to startthe watershed effort. Lots of ground water, brook trout and lots of room to go up from here.
 
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Mike

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Well you may be take that but our children might not get to because size is as we know not a surrogate for adaptive potential in-terms of dealing with stressors. Thats why managing specifically for larger brook trout above all else is a fishing goal not a conservation one. There are a few free stone tribs but the barrier is still significant from a conservation genetics standpoint given the upper hammer is not a big system. Also if there is hatchery introgression a genetic rescue would have much lower risk of outbreeding depression tou got to keep that in mind. Studies have show introgression was low in some larger systems but it may be more likely in smaller systems. People much smarter than myself have inquired about that barrier and its conservation genetics implications.
I’ve never seen a wild trout population in Pa with all large fish, so managing solely for large trout really isn’t even an option. Producing larger trout by improving habitat, forage, reducing competition, or controlling overharvest (a rarity in purely wild trout fisheries in Pa), in essence “managing for larger trout,” is hardly going to eliminate the smaller trout.

What genetic data from Hammer suggest that there is a “significant conservation genetics barrier?” Research from W Va showed that ST were genetically different just within short stretches of stream almost as if they were family groups for lack of a better term. This suggests to me that genetic diversity would have a good chance of not being problematic when speaking about a ST stream with interchange among multiple ST tribs and the main stream where freestoners and limestoners are undergoing differing stressors.
 
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A940FD81 B3FA 46C7 A142 52B3B5DE0E1C No idea what a local sportsman's club could be doing, or not. But, seeing the smaller size head on that fish in relation to the fairly good body size leads me to think it's not a native. Natives usually have a larger head in relation to their body size, with much more vivid coloration as well. jmo
I get your point about the smaller head being indicative of a hatchery trout but the coloration of Brook trout varies greatly by watershed. Here is a brook trout of similar proportion from a stream that would 110% be a native trout.

Knowing the watershed, the trout in question is a Native trout.
 
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Mike

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Hop…and note the color of the anal fin on your fish….that domesticated red raspberry color. I have seen that in one creek only and it’s located in Centre Co….a limestone spring creek that one could take a running jump across.
 
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Hop…and note the color of the anal fin on your fish….that domesticated red raspberry color. I have seen that in one creek only and it’s located in Centre Co….a limestone spring creek that one could take a running jump across.
Mike, I’m always impressed that you can tell what streams my trout are from but this time it’s way far away from that. I’ll PM you.
 
sarce

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Hahaha. OK.
Agree. Not a chance that's a stocked brookie. Fins are razor clean. Head size is small because it's a spring creek with good growth rates. Not a Poconos freestoner.
 
Fish Sticks

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I’ve never seen a wild trout population in Pa with all large fish, so managing solely for large trout really isn’t even an option. Producing larger trout by improving habitat, forage, reducing competition, or controlling overharvest (a rarity in purely wild trout fisheries in Pa), in essence “managing for larger trout,” is hardly going to eliminate the smaller trout.

What genetic data from Hammer suggest that there is a “significant conservation genetics barrier?” Research from W Va showed that ST were genetically different just within short stretches of stream almost as if they were family groups for lack of a better term. This suggests to me that genetic diversity would have a good chance of not being problematic when speaking about a ST stream with interchange among multiple ST tribs and the main stream where freestoners and limestoners are undergoing differing stressors.
Thats exactly my point too, that there is an unrealistic obsession with size. I pointed out that valuing only fish size was the end point of the faulty study that only sampled average length of 300m that you have mentioned when we talk about catch and release. The end point was a brook trout in millimeters. I was pointing out we should be looking at resiliency of the fish and adaptive potential instead of size which is what those studying conservation genetics of brook trout will tell you. Its ablut their ability to deal with stressors not how hard they pull on a rod or what “fishery” they provide if we are talking about conservation.

FWS got fin clips from the hammer and walnut possibly too I believe. So once that is released publicly we will get some information about the population. Yes brook trour can be genetically different on small spatial scales as you mention however “genetically” different is a spectrum. Just ao you and everyone on here understands how adaptations works, its driven by genetic diversity. The main ways genetic diversity is maintained is new genes coming into a population. There are two main sources of this. Random mutations one. Most random mutations are useless but its like rolling the dice a small number could be beneficial but its a slow process. The other is gene flow, fish movement. Its why despite cross fork having multiple freestone tribs we still care that fish can move in from kettle creek. I think one thing that would help your under standing on this is that you talk about “lack of genetic diversity likely not being a problem”. However, gene flow is also a spectrum. Thats what I think your missing is that simply avoiding inbreeding depression of a native brook trout population is on one end of the spectrum. Its REALLY low hanging fruit. Its like someone trying to lose weight setting a goal of getting 1000 steps a day on their fit bit. Its bare bones. On the other end of the spectrum is what SHOULD be our managers goal if we are serious about healthy resilient brook trout populations is high adaptive potential. There is even such thing as rapid adaptation being looked at in native alweives right now. The more gene flow you have from the winners of natural selection coming in from other pop, the more genetic diversity, the more adaptive potential. So back to the barrier on Hammer Creek, thats preventing gene flow and its been there for a long time. So while maybe there is or isn’t inbreeding depression reducing the hammer’s brook trout’s fitness, I don’t know. Either way making that the goal sets the bar really low and when we get some fin clip data maybe we will see that a genetic rescue could be very advantageous and help increase genetic diversity and adaptive potential above that barrier to deal with any and all stressors. Thats the beauty of making adaptive potential the managment goal instead of size and density like we currently do now. Woth a conservation genetics/adaptive potential approach the fish are adapting to stressors we may not even know about on their own. If we are just going to make all our study outcomes170mm brook trout like in PA fish and boats catch and release study or fish management value system class A or bust than we are bot going to have healthy brook trout populations because we are managing for fishing goals not conservation ones that the expert presenters at the chesapeake bay brook trout conservation genetics STAC conference sharing their research are indicating should be the priority.
 
sarce

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As far as perceived changes in the number of brown and brook trout its hard because the public cannot fish the majority of hammer creek and populations can get fluctuate with large flood events sabotaging a reproducrove class. It doesn’t take a scary amount of rain to blow that stream out.
Every time one of these floods occurs, I imagine the browns survive it better than the brook trout. Every flood = a tip toward brown trout dominance. The climate is changing and flooding rainfall has become much more frequent in SE PA in the past 10 years. This creates more events that shift the balance in favor of browns.

I've only fished hammer and tribs a few times. I never went far enough upstream to get to the brookie dominated water, so I can't speak to anything happening there. It's been several years since I fished the SGL water anyway. But I do remember some past discussions here about one of the small tribs being a shadow of its former self...due to runoff and loss of pool habitat IIRC.
 
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I am continually amazed at how much attention hammer creek threads get given the poor trout habitat and even worse fishing experience it yields most of the time.

That doesn’t mean that there is not a significant population of wild trout in the stream and that stream doesn’t need all the help we can give.

I can’t even say I’ve ever seen anyone fishing upper hammer aside from the parking lot area on pumping station rd. ( easy access to the dam pool)
 
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I am continually amazed at how much attention hammer creek threads get given the poor trout habitat and even worse fishing experience it yields most of the time.

That doesn’t mean that there is not a significant population of wild trout in the stream and that stream doesn’t need all the help we can give.

I can’t even say I’ve ever seen anyone fishing upper hammer aside from the parking lot area on pumping station rd. ( easy access to the dam pool)
My in person attention(outside these threads) given to the stream has been due to its conservation potential with the massive springs to sustain a healthy brook trout populations into/ through climate change if certain physical and invasive species impairments can be improved. From a fishing standpoint i agree the attention puzzles me. Its hust local for alot of people i gather, Lancaster is a growing area so is lebanon.
 
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troutbert

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Riparian buffers are what the stream needs. So, focus on that.

The local USDA office should be able to help with riparian buffers. There is funding for creating buffers and it's a pretty good deal for landowners. Maintenance is needed on buffers and many landowners have trouble with that. But volunteers from conservation groups can help with maintenance.
 
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