Biologist reports logo Schuylkill River
Port Carbon to Schuylkill Haven

Schuylkill County
August 18 & 19, 2004
Trout Electrofishing

Area 6 fisheries management staff collected brook, brown, and rainbow trout via electrofishing at three sites on the Schuylkill River between Port Carbon and Schuylkill Haven, Schuylkill Co., on August 18 and 19, 2004. Sampling sites fell within the approximately 14.5 mile stretch extending from Middleport downstream to the Game Lands below Schuylkill Haven. This stretch naturally harbored low-density populations of wild brook and brown trout, as well as stocked fingerling trout.

Schuylkill River wild brook trout
Schuylkill River wild brook trout (9"-10") taken for contaminant analyses

During the past three years the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has stocked close to 100,000 brook, brown, and rainbow trout fingerlings in this stretch, placing brook trout in the reach upstream from Pottsville and the browns and rainbows downstream from Pottsville. The stockings have been intended to provide a fishery and boost the river’s fish population recovery rates. Past electrofishing survey work has estimated that brook trout have survived at rates of four percent (Nov., 2001 to Aug., 2002) and eight percent (May, 2002 to Aug., 2002); brown trout have survived at rates of five percent (May, 2002 to Aug., 2002) and 39 percent (Nov., 2001 to Aug., 2002); and rainbows have survived at a rate of 68 percent (May, 2002 – Aug., 2002). Survival has frequently varied with the sizes of the fingerlings at the times of stockings. Fingerlings longer than four inches have generally provided better survival rates. Also, survival or residency has apparently varied with localized differences in habitat and water quality.

Schuylkill River browns - click for closer look
AFM Mike Kaufmann and Fisheries Technician Bryan Chikotas with 18" (fingerling stocked)
and 21" (wild) Schuylkill River brown trout

Electrofishing revealed low-density populations of wild and fingerling stocked brook trout at two sites upstream from Pottsville and low-density populations of brown and rainbow trout at one site in Schuylkill Haven. This is not to say that there weren’t higher densities of trout present. Past electrofishing at different sites with better habitat revealed good densities of brown and rainbow trout.

Schuylkill River rainbows - click for a closer look
AFM Mike Kaufmann and Fisheries Technician Bryan Chikotas with 13-15" Schuylkill River fingerling stocked rainbow trout

Trout electrofished during the August, 2004, survey ranged in lengths as follows: Brook trout – 4 to 11 inches, with a good number of these being 9 inches long and longer, Brown trout – 4 to 21 inches, Rainbow trout – 13 to 14 inches.

Schuylkill River in Schuylkill Haven
Schuylkill River in Schuylkill Haven

Slowly, this river is making a comeback from a history of mine acid drainage and discharges of poorly treated and untreated sewage. Abatement of these problems is continuing. Despite its history and present pollution problems certain stretches of good habitat harbor fish populations that can and do provide attractive fishing for the few who presently take advantage of the opportunities.

 
-- Mike Kaufmann, Area 6 Fisheries Manager

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