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Fishing Creek
Clinton County
 
August 27-28, 2009

Fishing Creek is a 43 mile long limestone influenced stream located in southern Clinton County. The stream emerges about 4 miles east of the town of Carroll and flows southwest through Sugar Valley toward Tylersville where it turns and flows northeast to its confluence with Bald Eagle Creek in Mill Hall. The stream rises and sinks in several locations in Sugar Valley. Fishing Creek flows year round from the Tylersville State Fish Hatchery to the mouth, with the exception of a short reach near the I-80 crossing that can lose surface flow during dry summers. Large springs enter Fishing Creek throughout its length and are responsible for its productivity and maintaining year-round cold water temperature.

The narrows
Figure 1. Map of “the narrows” portion of Fishing Creek (Sections 07-09) in southern Clinton County. Sections 07-09 are indicated on the map by the highlighted blue line

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission staff surveyed Sections 07 and 08 (“the narrows”; Figure 1) to assess the wild trout populations on August 27 and 28, 2009. Section 07 extends for 1.2 miles from the Tylersville State Fish Hatchery downstream to 330 yards below the SR 2002 bridge and is managed under Trophy Trout Artificial Lures Only regulations. Section 08 extends for 2 miles from 330 yards below the SR 2002 bridge downstream to 1.3 miles upstream of the lower SR 2002 bridge and is managed under Catch and Release Artificial Lures Only regulations. Section 09 comprises the lower 2.1 miles of “the narrows” and extends from 1.3 miles upstream of the lower SR 2002 bridge downstream to Flemings Bridge on SR 2004 in Lamar and is managed under Trophy Trout Artificial Lures Only regulations. The last comprehensive survey of Fishing Creek in “the narrows” occurred in 2000. The riparian land within “the narrows” is comprised of a combination of public (State Game Land 295) and private properties. Anglers are reminded to please respect both the public and private properties.

Electrofishing
Figure 2. PFBC staff conducting the 2009 electrofishing survey using a towed boat electrofishing unit

Brown trout
Figure 3. A nice brown trout captured during the August 2009 survey

In Section 07, the 2009 survey captured a total of 14 brook trout ranging from 3 to 11 inches and 334 brown trout ranging from 2 to 19 inches on the first electrofishing pass (Table 1). Based on a Petersen mark-recapture population estimate, the estimated abundance of brown trout was 2,080/mile with an estimated biomass of 239 lbs/acre (268 kg/ha). The estimated abundance of brook trout was 106/mile with an estimated biomass of 1.8 lbs/acre (2 kg/ha). Biomass is the weight of trout per unit of area, expressed as pounds (lbs) per acre or kilograms (kg) per hectare (ha). A kilogram is roughly equal to 2.2 pounds and a hectare is equivalent to 2.47 acres. With a total wild trout biomass estimate of 241 lbs/acre (270 kg/ha), this section of Fishing Creek far exceeds the minimum criteria of 36 lbs/acre (40 kg/ha) needed to qualify for Class A wild trout stream designation. Section 07 has been managed as a Class A wild trout stream since 1983.

Brook trout
Figure 4. A small, healthy brook trout captured during the August 2009 survey

Section 08 was sampled for the first time during 2009. Prior to 2001, Sections 07, 08 and 09 were managed together as one section under Trophy Trout Artificial Lures Only regulations, and the long-term sample site for this reach of stream was located at the lower end of “the narrows”. In Section 08, the 2009 survey captured 20 brook trout ranging from 3 to 11 inches and 198 brown trout ranging from 3 to 19 inches during the first electrofishing pass (Table 2). Based on a Petersen mark-recapture population estimate, the estimated abundance of brown trout was 1,518/mile (943/km) with an estimated biomass of 117 lbs/acre (132 kg/ha). The estimated abundance of brook trout was 153/mile (95/km) with an estimated biomass of 3.6 lbs/acre (4 kg/ha). With a total wild trout biomass for the site of 121 lbs/acre (136 kg/ha), this section of Fishing Creek also far exceeds the minimum criteria of 36 lbs/acre (40 kg/ha) needed to qualify for Class A wild trout stream designation. Section 08 has been managed as a Class A wild trout stream since 1983.

Table 1. Length-frequency distribution of brook and brown trout captured during the first electrofishing pass in Section 07 during the past three surveys.

Section 07
 Length 1998 2000 2009
(Inches) Brook Brown Brook Brown Brook Brown
2     1 28   4
3   22 14 97 6 28
4 3 24 7 19 4 4
5 1   1 1   1
6   16 1     5
7 1 64   5 1 8
8 1 124   5   16
9 3 53 2 3   11
10 1 11 6 19 1 27
11 1 20 3 46 2 45
12   50 1 75   59
13   56   44   62
14   50   36   39
15   20   21   14
16   6   9   6
17       2   1
18           2
19           2
Total 11 516 36 410 14 334

Table 2. Length-frequency distribution of brook and brown trout captured during the first electrofishing pass in Section 08 during 2009. The 2009 survey was the first at this site.

Section 08
 Length 2009
(Inches) Brook Brown
2    
3 6 24
4 2 8
5    
6 4  
7   5
8 2 4
9 3 7
10 1 19
11 2 26
12   42
13   36
14   17
15   7
16    
17   2
18    
19

 

1
Total 20 198

Fishing Creek Sections 07 and 08 continue to support outstanding wild trout populations. Fishing Creek is one of only a few limestone influenced streams that continue to support a naturally reproducing brook trout population. While the wild trout populations continue to hold their own, Fishing Creek is certainly not immune to impacts. Sediment is the number one pollutant nationwide and is a factor in the Fishing Creek watershed as well. Agriculture is prevalent in fertile Sugar Valley and it is critical that best management practices be implemented to reduce erosion and sedimentation along with maintaining or enhancing riparian buffers if the stream is to continue supporting robust wild trout populations into the future. Groups working to improve and maintain aquatic habitats and water quality in the Fishing Creek watershed include the Clinton County Conservation District, Sugar Valley Watershed Association, and the PFBC.

 
— Area 3

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