Biologist reports logo

Big Spring Creek

Cumberland County

August 28–30, 2007
Sampling Technique – Towed Boat Electrofishing


Located in Cumberland County, Big Spring Creek can be characterized as a fertile limestone spring. Big Spring Creek offers anglers the opportunity to fish for wild trout in the Catch and Release Fly-Fishing Only section or fish for stocked trout in the section open to angling under Statewide Regulations. Anglers are fortunate that the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) owns a corridor along a significant portion of the upper end of Big Spring Creek, which offers protection as well as access to this popular stream.

Big Spring Creek
Big Spring Creek

Biologists from the PFBC Fisheries Management Division continued their annual monitoring of the trout populations in Big Spring Creek following the closure of the Big Spring State Fish Hatchery in November 2001. This survey will provide insight for future fisheries management plans, including evaluation of the fingerling trout program.

Big Spring Creek is stocked with adult and fingerling hatchery reared brook trout. The fingerling brook trout are stocked from Thomas Dam (Old Fish Barrier) downstream to the Laughlin Mill Dam in Newville. Fingerling brook trout were stocked in the fall from 2003 – 2005 and in the spring in 2006 and 2007. Adult brook trout are stocked from Nealy Road downstream to the Laughlin Mill Dam in Newville and are stocked in the spring as part of the PFBC’s Approved Trout Waters Program. A distinguishing fin clip given to all of the hatchery reared brook trout stocked into Big Spring Creek allow biologists to determine the origin (hatchery or wild) of brook trout collected during the annual surveys of Big Spring Creek. Fingerling brook trout have their left pelvic fin clipped while adult brook trout have the adipose fin clipped.

The specific number of adult and fingerling hatchery reared trout that were stocked into Big Spring Creek and the number that were subsequently collected during sampling are reflected in the table below. Hatchery reared fingerling brook trout survival has been poor with less than 8% of the fingerlings being collected during sampling regardless of whether they were stocked in the fall or spring. The percent survival in 2006 and 2007 was based on approximately a four month period due to the spring plants of fingerlings. The percent survival in 2004, 2005 and 2006 was based on approximately an eleven month period due to fall plants of fingerlings. Adult hatchery reared brook trout survival rates were not determined as these fish were planted into areas where immediate harvest was allowed and with the expectation that recreational anglers will have harvested a majority of these fish prior to the annual fall electrofishing survey.

Time series of total brook trout stocked into Big Spring Creek and total number of brook trout
collected from all survey sites marked with distinguishing fin clip.
Survey Year Total Number of Fingerling Stocked Total Number of Fingerlings Collected From Survey Efforts Total % Survival of Stocked Fingerlings Total Number of Adult Trout Stocked Total Number of Adult Trout Collected From Survey Efforts
2007* 7,600 spring stocking 81 8% 2,500 3
2006* 7,600 spring stocking 42 2% 3,100 4
2005 4,500 fall stocking 3 <1% 3,100 8
2004 4,500 fall stocking 9 1% 3,100 16
2003 4,500 fall stocking N/A N/A 2,800 4
2002 No Fingerling Stocking by PFBC N/A N/A 2,700 N/A

* Increased number of fingerlings stocked in 2006 and 2007 was due to hatchery production changes that produced a smaller sized fingerling therefore numbers were increased to compensate.

Brook trout
Brook trout captured in Big Spring Creek

Ditch survey results

A total of 448 wild brook trout were collected during the 2007 electrofishing survey conducted in the 150 meter “ditch” station. Wild brook trout were between 2 and 15 inches in total length. Wild rainbow trout collected from the “ditch” ranged from 5 to 16 inches in total length and numbered 38. Brown trout collected from the “ditch” ranged from 16 to 23 inches in total length and numbered 4.

Survey results downstream of the ditch

A total of 165 wild brook trout were collected during the 2007 electrofishing survey conducted in the station located 300 meters downstream of the ditch and were 2 to 14 inches in total length. Wild rainbow trout in this station ranged from 4 to 15 inches in total length and numbered 68. Brown trout in this station ranged from 17 to 23 inches in total length and numbered 6. Habitat restoration work was completed in June of 2004 in the lower portion of this sampling site.

Survey results downstream of fish barrier

A total of 4 wild brook trout were collected by electrofishing from the station located 300 meters downstream of the Fish Barrier during the 2007 survey. These fish were between 5 to 12 inches in total length. Wild rainbow trout in this station ranged from 4 to 20 inches in total length and numbered 173. One 20 inch brown trout was also captured in this station.

Wild rainbow trout
Wild rainbow trout captured in Big Spring Creek

As was found in previous surveys low numbers of hatchery trout were collected in 2007 at the 100 meter (328 feet) stone arch bridge sampling station as well as the 100 meter (328 feet) sampling station below Laughlin Mill Dam in Newville.

Other species found during the survey included white sucker, longnose dace, blacknose dace, pearl dace, green sunfish, banded killifish, smallmouth bass, spottail shiner, tessellated darter, fourspine stickleback and slimy sculpin.

 
-- John Frederick, Area 7 Fisheries Biologist

Biologist Reports -- PFBC Home


Copyright Notice
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Web Privacy and Security Policies