Personnel from PFBC’s Area 5 and 6 Fisheries Management offices and the Coldwater Unit conducted an electrofishing survey to evaluate the wild brown trout population in the Catch-and-Release Area of Bushkill Creek on July 21st and 22nd, 2008. This 1.1 mile long reach extends from the dam at Binney and Smith downstream to the 13th Street Bridge. Section 06 has been managed under Catch-and-Release regulations since 1988. Monitoring of the trout population has occurred periodically from 1982 through 2008. Sampling took place at one fixed site located at the Edgewood Avenue Bridge. The 2008 survey was conducted to assess the status of the wild brown trout population and to address angler reports of low numbers of trout being caught.
With the exception of the 1989 survey, the wild brown trout population met or exceeded the minimum biomass standard of 40 kg/ha for Class A wild trout management (Figure 1). Estimates have fluctuated from a low of 34.98 kg/ha in 1989 to a high of 248.91 kg/ha in 1992. In 2008, wild brown trout biomass met the standard for Class A wild trout waters with an estimate of 46.84 kg/ha.
The estimated number of brown trout greater than or equal to (>) seven inches in length per mile has varied greatly from a low of 481 in 2008 to a high of 4,795 in 1992. Estimates of trout > 10 inches in length per mile have exhibited fluctuations ranging from lows of 246 in 1982 and 269 in 1989 to a high of 1,431 in 1992. Estimates of trout > 14 inches in length have ranged from a low of 5 in 1988 to a high of 232 in 2001 (Figure 2). In 2008, the estimated number of brown trout > 10 and 14 inches per mile was 254 and 71, respectively.
The estimated number of brown trout less than (<) seven inches in length per mile has ranged from a low of 21 in 1987 to a high of 3,948 in 1991 (Figure 3). In 2008, the estimated number of brown trout < seven inches in length was 541/mi.
The PFBC acknowledges that the brown trout population has declined between the 2001 and 2008 surveys and this decline has mirrored the recent angler reports of fewer adult size trout being caught. Some natural variation in the population can be expected due to spawning success and survival. The fluctuations observed in 2008 were considerable, however, a similar decline in the population was observed between the 1988 and 1989 surveys. Undoubtedly, the climatic conditions that resulted in floods during 2004, 2005, and 2006 were a major contributing factor to the recent decline observed in the wild brown trout population. There is no reason to change management in this section at this time, as management under Catch-and-Release regulations protects the trout population from angler harvest. The PFBC will continue to closely monitor the status of the trout population on this stream by conducting follow-up surveys in 2010 and 2012.
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