Heritage Brook Trout

silverfox

silverfox

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....and make brookies and browns C&R. See what happens....
You lost me there. Why do you feel brown trout should be protected in brook trout streams? Do we not have enough brown trout in the state? Are smaller brook trout streams the best place to protect brown trout? I haven't seen anything that suggests brown trout are a species of greatest conservation need and I don't think we've agreed to try to increase brown trout populations by 8% by 2025. Brown trout aren't declining in numbers. This is where things get too messy to be feasible or defensible.
 
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Mike

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It seems that we are back to this again. The statewide wild trout stream angler use and harvest study was not done on stocked trout sections; they were all unstocked sections. Stocking over wild trout was not presented to my knowledge as being part of the discussion with sportsmen that led to the special regs. Harvest of wild trout from stocked sections was beyond the scope of the study.

Your debate is largely not with me; as mentioned before and some here heard me say it at the trout symposium in 2002… the best way to enhance wild ST populations in Pa is not with special regs, but to stop stocking over them (as long as there is habitat appropriate for supporting additional fish). There are a few caveats regarding trout abundance, but that’s the basic idea. As troutbert has mentioned in the past, a number of AFM’s favored starting with the upper half of the Class B ST sections, meaning greater than 25kg/ha.

I was not part of the ST C&R reg study, but three hundred meter sites or longer are designed to represent the populations within the sections. IF the design was the same as other surveys, then at least 10 percent of each section was probably sampled and more than one representative habitat sampling site could be run too achieve that. When sampling wild ST waters, the sampling becomes pretty darn redundant after 300-400 m. The study was not just published on the PFBC site, but in one of the top fisheries journals published by the American Fisheries Society.

You say that many wild trout stream populations could be better, but I doubt that’s the case very often unless stocking is also occurring. I would agree that natural variations in populations result in times when the populations could be better, but natural variations in decent fisheries (no supplemental stockings needed) never bothered me unless angler harvest was also very high, as in the crappie fishery at Blue Marsh. Thus the proposed special reg, later enacted, was the crappie model that started the statewide Panfish Enhancement Program. Furthermore, as the director of Fisheries in Idaho once told us, and I am paraphrasing, a trout population does not have to be at 100% capacity in order to have good fishing. In that regard, knowing some numbers ( number of legal fish, number of desirable size fish in a water body, etc) is important for a fisheries manager.
 
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Fish Sticks

Fish Sticks

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there always be places like bald eagle, spring, the little J, lakawana, and basically every small mouth stream in Pennsylvania 3 seasons a year where the angling community(including myself) can get their brown trout fix. Special regs or management in those scenarios would fall under under fishing since brown trout have no conservation need( scientific community will say “there is no such thing as conservation for an invasive species” since conservation is largely need and ecosystem based. Since brown trout occupy nearly all ihabitable regions on planet earth according to macintosh et all (2011) and harm native ecosystems in general they wouldn’t have a conservation need, their taking over ). However, anglers will continue to have great brown trout opportunities in Pa and these spring creeks that are a blast to fish and our guide industry relies upon aren’t going anywhere nor are their brown trout.

However from a conservation/non fishing standpoint where you are working with native brook trout that are an important evolved into/part of the ecosystem/food web, we already have a ton of guiding principles/strategies from the EBTJV seen in this brook trout conservation portfolio plan they created with TU. As you can see non native trout eradication is recommended by trout unlimited/EBTJV in some limited streams, these are streams we could be doing mandatory harvest/dispatchment. These streams are mostly where the brown trout are no bigger than the brook trout in most cases and are limited in miles above a barrier. People traveling the state intentionally targeting brown trout wouldn’t even perceive a drop off from a fishing standpoint, it would just help secure a few small brook trout populations

If anyone wants to read the conservation portfolio here is the link.

 

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troutbert

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Take the natural reproduction list. Cross reference it with the stocking list.
Good stuff. My variation:

1) Start with the natural reproduction list.

2) Select all stream sections with native brook trout populations.

3) Cross reference it with the stocking list (including PFBC coop hatchery stocking).

4) End stocking on those sections.

This would be a very large change, but it would also have large benefits to brook trout populations.

And would not change the quantity of hatchery trout stocked in PA. And it would save money, not cost money.

But if we want this, we're going to have to ask for it.
 
silverfox

silverfox

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Good stuff. My variation:

1) Start with the natural reproduction list.

2) Select all stream sections with native brook trout populations.

3) Cross reference it with the stocking list (including PFBC coop hatchery stocking).

4) End stocking on those sections.

This would be a very large change, but it would also have large benefits to brook trout populations.

And would not change the quantity of hatchery trout stocked in PA. And it would save money, not cost money.

But if we want this, we're going to have to ask for it.
I've sent letters on behalf of a regional (east coast) nonprofit organization, and a petition requesting this already. So far since then, we got more brown trout angling regulations.
 
Fish Sticks

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I've sent letters on behalf of a regional (east coast) nonprofit organization, and a petition requesting this already. So far since then, we got more brown trout angling regulations.
Hahaha, yea after those regs Brown trout deff aren’t being added to their aquatic invasive species web page. EBTJV says do removal in some places we can’t evwn stop stocking or adding protections
 
Fish Sticks

Fish Sticks

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Good stuff. My variation:

1) Start with the natural reproduction list.

2) Select all stream sections with native brook trout populations.

3) Cross reference it with the stocking list (including PFBC coop hatchery stocking).

4) End stocking on those sections.

This would be a very large change, but it would also have large benefits to brook trout populations.

And would not change the quantity of hatchery trout stocked in PA. And it would save money, not cost money.

But if we want this, we're going to have to ask for it.
Still maintain id love to be a fly on the wall when Pa fish and boat updates EBTJV about what the H*** is going on in PA.
 
silverfox

silverfox

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Still maintain id love to be a fly on the wall when Pa fish and boat updates EBTJV about what the H*** is going on in PA.
I'd love to know what the plan is to increase brook trout populations by 8% by 2025. That's only 3 years away.

We have 430 allopatric brook trout patches comprised of 4,754 km2 (out of 925 patches/18,914km2 or 46.49% of wild trout patches are supposedly allopatric brook trout). We're supposed to be trying to increase that number by 380 km2 (93,900 acres) by 2025. It's worth pointing out that an increase in sympatric or "wild trout" patches doesn't count toward the 8% goal. It has to be allopatric.
 
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troutbert

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I'd love to know what the plan is to increase brook trout populations by 8% by 2025. That's only 3 years away.

We have 430 allopatric brook trout patches comprised of 4,754 km2 (out of 925 patches/18,914km2 or 46.49% of wild trout patches are supposedly allopatric brook trout). We're supposed to be trying to increase that number by 380 km2 (93,900 acres) by 2025. It's worth pointing out that an increase in sympatric or "wild trout" patches doesn't count toward the 8% goal. It has to be allopatric.
At these brook trout meetings, do they talk about the fact that there is still widespread stocking over native brook trout by the PFBC and their coop hatcheries? Does that appear in their reports?

Or is that the elephant in the room that no one talks about?
 
silverfox

silverfox

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At these brook trout meetings, do they talk about the fact that there is still widespread stocking over native brook trout by the PFBC and their coop hatcheries? Does that appear in their reports?

Or is that the elephant in the room that no one talks about?
That data is from the Chesapeake Bay Program and dates back to 2018-2019.

 
Fish Sticks

Fish Sticks

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At these brook trout meetings, do they talk about the fact that there is still widespread stocking over native brook trout by the PFBC and their coop hatcheries? Does that appear in their reports?

Or is that the elephant in the room that no one talks about?
No idea, hence my fly on the wall comment. Id love PAFB to have to show more transparency and live stream their participation in conservation meetings with other agencies/NGO’s and own up to that they know their fisheries management is driven largely by social factors and securing our state fishes future just isnt a big enough priority to hold back one single stocking. License holders forced to pay for all the invasive species just to wet a line for non stocked fish elsewhere in this state deserve more transparency.
 
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troutbert

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That data is from the Chesapeake Bay Program and dates back to 2018-2019.

I read that document and did not see any mention of the fact that there is widespread stocking over native brook trout populations in PA. (I don't know how common this practice is in other states.)

So, do they not KNOW this? Or do the participants know, but the topic is being carefully avoided?
 
Fish Sticks

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its the latter in most cases troutbert but not always for the reasons you would think I guess thats all I’ll say here. But safe to say “elephant in the room” doesn’t even begin to do justice to how painfully/hyper aware most parties are about this current debacle.
 
silverfox

silverfox

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I read that document and did not see any mention of the fact that there is widespread stocking over native brook trout populations in PA. (I don't know how common this practice is in other states.)

So, do they not KNOW this? Or do the participants know, but the topic is being carefully avoided?
I think in general, stocking/nonnative fish are the least addressed issue because it's such a controversial topic (in fishing circles anyway). That's partly why I focus on it so much. It's an issue that slips through the cracks a lot.

I think out of all the native range states, PA is probably the worst offender. WV might come in second. Most other states have made it a policy to not stock over native brook trout, but it probably still happens in small places to some degree in other states. I think that's probably mostly driven by the amount of trout we stock and the number of streams we have compared to most other states and in general our stocking culture.

On the below list, I think most states and NGO's are doing a great job of educating and working toward correcting a lot of these threats except the nonnative fish issue. It was pointed out recently that nonnative fish have 2 line items on this list, so it's an important issue, but one that's usually not talked about or addressed as much as the other items.

As fishsticks has said, addressing some, or all of the environmental pressures while ignoring the biotic ones is a partial solution at best, and may actually have a larger negative impact in the end than doing nothing (i.e., Shavers fork example/increasing the chance for displacement by creating better nonnative fish habitat).

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pcray1231

pcray1231

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Why do you feel brown trout should be protected in brook trout streams?

I said cross reference stocking list with natural reproduction list. I would rather brown trout streams not be overharvested either. Brookies vs. browns is an entirely different debate. The one in question is the impact of harvest/stocked fish on wild trout, and that's what I was speaking to.

If you want to know my head from a conservation standpoint. Brookies are #1. The most important conservation target. However, wild brown trout streams are also worth preserving, and managing them as wild brown trout streams is better than managing them as put and take streams. If a stream is already managed as wild trout, and we're arguing over whether we should take steps to favor brookies. Well, I'd say first that is a GOOD problem to have. And the next question is what is the likelihood of success?

i.e. if it's primarily a wild trout stream. Prefer we don't stock over them at all. If we have to, stock rainbows, and say no harvest of brookies and browns.

Heck, do away with the complicated section approach, where one section is managed as wild trout, one as stocked trout, another as DHALO, etc. Keep it simple, get away from the "section" approach and go to a "species" approach. C&R fishing allowed year round, everywhere. We stock only rainbows, so ALL brookies and browns are wild. Harvest is allowed on only rainbows. Here is where we put them, and the harvest season, creel limits, etc.

Have a few select streams where you want to remove browns to benefit brookies? GREAT!!! Those become special reg sections. Hey public, we're trying to remove browns from this specific stream. Here's your chance to harvest browns. Posters go up, etc. No limit on size, no creel limit on brown trout. Have at em, we want you to. But brookies remain protected...

I don't get why the fish commission thinks the public isn't smart enough to tell the difference between trout species. We ask them to distinguish between walleye and sauger, muskie and pike and pickerel, etc. With different bag limits and size limits on each. They group all trout together for simplicity? Uh. The most avid anglers struggle to figure out the section approach. Umm, lets see, it's February, this stream is stocked, but not here, can I fish? Does it matter if I'm upstream or down of the stocked area? And hey that section limit says bridge at T02#*3. Where the heck is that? My map shows no roads named T something.. lol. We argue about where and how you can fish, what you can keep, every year. Good, knowledgable anglers struggle, and it's a topic of endless argument on fishing forums of what you're allowed to do and what you aren't!!! Meanwhile, my 7 year old can easily tell the difference between a rainbow trout and a brook trout.... People who have never wetted a line in their entire lives know the difference.
 
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silverfox

silverfox

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I said cross reference stocking list with natural reproduction list. I would rather brown trout streams not be overharvested either. Brookies vs. browns is an entirely different debate. The one in question is the impact of harvest/stocked fish on wild trout, and that's what I was speaking to.

If you want to know my head from a conservation standpoint. Brookies are #1. The most important conservation target. However, wild brown trout streams are also worth preserving, and managing them as wild brown trout streams is better than managing them as put and take streams. If a stream is already managed as wild trout, and we're arguing over whether we should take steps to favor brookies. Well, I'd say first that is a GOOD problem to have. And the next question is what is the likelihood of success?

i.e. if it's primarily a wild trout stream. Prefer we don't stock over them at all. If we have to, stock rainbows, and say no harvest of brookies and browns.

Heck, do away with the complicated section approach, where one section is managed as wild trout, one as stocked trout, another as DHALO, etc. Keep it simple, get away from the "section" approach and go to a "species" approach. C&R fishing allowed year round, everywhere. We stock only rainbows, so ALL brookies and browns are wild. Harvest is allowed on only rainbows. Here is where we put them, and the harvest season, creel limits, etc.

Have a few select streams where you want to remove browns to benefit brookies? GREAT!!! Those become special reg sections. Hey public, we're trying to remove browns from this specific stream. Here's your chance to harvest browns. Posters go up, etc. No limit on size, no creel limit on brown trout. Have at em, we want you to. But brookies remain protected...

I don't get why the fish commission thinks the public isn't smart enough to tell the difference between trout species. We ask them to distinguish between walleye and sauger, muskie and pike and pickerel, etc. With different bag limits and size limits on each. They group all trout together for simplicity? Uh. The most avid anglers struggle to figure out the section approach. Umm, lets see, it's February, this stream is stocked, but not here, can I fish? Does it matter if I'm upstream or down of the stocked area? And hey that section limit says bridge at T02#*3. Where the heck is that? My map shows no roads named T something.. lol. We argue about where and how you can fish, what you can keep, every year. Good, knowledgable anglers struggle, and it's a topic of endless argument on fishing forums of what you're allowed to do and what you aren't!!! Meanwhile, my 7 year old can easily tell the difference between a rainbow trout and a brook trout.... People who have never wetted a line in their entire lives know the difference.
Species specific regs make sense, but not including brown trout. Unless you make some valley streams C&R for all species, which we already have. What we don't have is any kind of brook trout specific regulations. Brook trout C&R makes sense from a conservation standpoint. Protecting one of the threats (listed twice on the list I posted from EBTJV) to brook trout makes absolutely no sense at all.

If brook trout exist in the stream currently, it's a brook trout stream. All threats to brook trout should be mitigated in brook trout streams in my opinion. Riparian buffer, sedimentation, habitat, and the removal of nonnative species. You could even skip "removal" and just make it C&R for brook trout only. I doubt angler harvest could shift species composition, but It makes no sense to protect one of the things negatively impacting brook trout.

We have Penns, Spring, Letort, LJR, West Branch Susky, and on and on and on that already have brown trout protections. Protecting brown trout in places like Hammersely fork makes absolutely no sense. That's like protecting perched culverts, dumping triaxle loads of sand in streams, or burning down the riparian buffer.
 
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Mike

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I saw that 8% figure that you referenced. Believe that and perhaps I can sell you some swamp land too. The only way to appreciably increase allopatric ST in Pa is via substantial mine acid drainage remediation in already cold enough (for ST) streams and that doesn’t happen overnight. As for sympatric populations, I would gladly take those over the prospect of no wild trout. Where temperatures or habitat quality are marginal, BT not ST will be the first species for which the streams are suitable.
Good stuff. My variation:

1) Start with the natural reproduction list.

2) Select all stream sections with native brook trout populations.

3) Cross reference it with the stocking list (including PFBC coop hatchery stocking).

4) End stocking on those sections.

This would be a very large change, but it would also have large benefits to brook trout populations.

And would not change the quantity of hatchery trout stocked in PA. And it would save money, not cost money.

But if we want this, we're going to have to ask for it.
troutbert, et al,
Starting from square one, what would be the definition of “populations” in the following phrase…end stocking on those sections with native brook trout populations? Note: if proponents are talking about extremely low densities of wild ST for example, I don’t see that as being viewed as being very pragmatic. Why is that important? Because such an all or none approach would sacrifice the streams that would have a better chance of being removed if the request was more pragmatic. It’s called negotiating.
 
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pcray1231

pcray1231

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Starting from square one, what would be the definition of “populations” in the following phrase…end stocking on those sections with native brook trout populations? Note: if proponents are talking about extremely low densities of wild ST for example, I don’t see that as being viewed as being very pragmatic.
Yes, ANY population, ideally. Resource first? There are plenty of class D streams that fish very well. Sure, there may be some flat water where you have to walk 100 yards instead of 20 between fishy looking spots. But there are still fish everywhere you expect them to be. With relatively few exceptions, I've found that to be the case in virtually all, UNSTOCKED streams on the natural repro list. ALL of them are good, to me. Regardless of the surveyed biomass. It's stocked streams where you find good holding water relatively devoid of trout, until you get away from the stocking point, then you find them. This is why us fishermen say we believe many of these streams are harmed by stocking/harvest.

Biomass overall is a pretty poor indicator of "viable fishery", IMO. It took me a while, but I learned that. Ignore it. All it does is give me a mental picture of whether a stream is 50% good holding water or 10% good holding water. But I walk by bad holding water anyway. So on a class D stream I'll expect to cover a few more miles in a day than on a class A, because I'm doing more walking between the fishing. But the fishing will be just as good, if not better, overall, because it's less known and pressured.

Biomass is based on the surface area of the stream. Stream structure varies WILDLY. The thing is, fisherman are pretty good at skipping by crappy water and fishing decent holding water. If expected holding water has expected fish, it's a viable fishery, and we walk away saying that stream's in good shape, it holds the fish it should. I don't care if it's class D. If it's gorgeous holding water, stays cold, but sizable awesome sections seem devoid of fish. THEN we question why. And more often than not its because they throw buckets in right up there, I gotta get away from that spot before I find em. I don't care if it's class A, I see the stream as damaged due to stocking/harvest. Biomass means very little to me.

The goal isn't to make all streams reach an arbitrary line drawn by the PFBC as "class A". It's to make all streams as good as they should be. Class whatever, if the problem looks to be stocked fish/harvest, we say so. If it looks to be sedimentation, then lets attack that. If it's acid, then lets attack that.

Your point is taken, that the difficulty is one of politics. We do understand that. And in the name of pragmatism, ok, lets leave the class D's as a fight for a different day, and go after the B's and C's that are stocked over?
 
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silverfox

silverfox

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As for sympatric populations, I would gladly take those over the prospect of no wild trout. Where temperatures or habitat quality are marginal, BT not ST will be the first species for which the streams are suitable.
I'm sorry, but that makes no sense at all. Why are the options "sympatric or no trout"? If it's sympatric then it already has and can support brook trout?

Are you suggesting that we introduce brown trout as soon as we restore a water to a high enough quality that it can support brown trout and just stop there? That the target for temperature and habitat restoration is brown trout and not brook trout?

troutbert, et al,
Starting from square one, what would be the definition of “populations” in the following phrase…end stocking on those sections with native brook trout populations? Note: if proponents are talking about extremely low densities of wild ST for example, I don’t see that as being viewed as being very pragmatic. Why is that important? Because such an all or none approach would sacrifice the streams that would have a better chance of being removed if the request was more pragmatic. It’s called negotiating.
That's assuming the biomass calculations accurately reflect the actual current "populations" throughout an entire 12-month timespan. I personally think a regional approach like MD (and NJ) implemented makes sense. That is to establish zones of importance for the species and manage based on prioritizing the species in those regions.

What you're suggesting is that people should just accept that we've established a human constructed imaginary line in the sand based on a biomass assessment that may only be accurate seasonally where we favor stocked trout or other nonnative speices over brook trout. That I should just be ok with some level throwing our state fish under the bus? I'm not ok with that, and that's not a lack of pragmatism, it's principals.

We're already prioritizing nonnative fish all over the state. If the water can support brook trout, then it should be managed for brook trout alone.
 
silverfox

silverfox

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Yes, ANY population, ideally. Resource first? There are plenty of class D streams that fish very well. Sure, there may be some flat water where you have to walk 100 yards instead of 20 between fishy looking spots. But there are still fish everywhere you expect them to be. With relatively few exceptions, I've found that to be the case in virtually all, UNSTOCKED streams on the natural repro list. ALL of them are good, to me. Regardless of the surveyed biomass. It's stocked streams where you find good holding water relatively devoid of trout, until you get away from the stocking point, then you find them. This is why us fishermen say we believe many of these streams are harmed by stocking/harvest.

Biomass overall is a pretty poor indicator of "viable fishery", IMO. It took me a while, but I learned that. Ignore it. All it does is give me a mental picture of whether a stream is 50% good holding water or 10% good holding water. But I walk by bad holding water anyway. So on a class D stream I'll expect to cover a few more miles in a day than on a class A, because I'm doing more walking between the fishing. But the fishing will be just as good, if not better, overall, because it's less known and pressured.

Biomass is based on the surface area of the stream. Stream structure varies WILDLY. The thing is, fisherman are pretty good at skipping by crappy water and fishing decent holding water. If expected holding water has expected fish, it's a viable fishery, and we walk away saying that stream's in good shape, it holds the fish it should. I don't care if it's class D. If it's gorgeous holding water, stays cold, but sizable awesome sections seem devoid of fish. THEN we question why. And more often than not its because they throw buckets in right up there, I gotta get away from that spot before I find em. I don't care if it's class A, I see the stream as damaged due to stocking/harvest. Biomass means very little to me.

The goal isn't to make all streams reach an arbitrary line drawn by the PFBC as "class A". It's to make all streams as good as they should be. Class whatever, if the problem looks to be stocked fish/harvest, we say so. If it looks to be sedimentation, then lets attack that. If it's acid, then lets attack that.

Your point is taken, that the difficulty is one of politics. We do understand that. And in the name of pragmatism, ok, lets leave the class D's as a fight for a different day, and go after the B's and C's that are stocked over?
I agree w/ that entirely. Biomass is a worthless measure as far as I'm concerned. There is far too much variability in population density or even average fish size by stream mile to quantify it into a rating system that implies "good fishing". Yet that's what we're using to decide which streams to sacrifice our native brook trout in favor of yellow trout on.
 
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