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Laurel Hill Creek & Big Sandy Creek Basins
Search for Wild Trout
Somerset and Fayette Counties
 
June and July 2009

Fisheries Management personnel from the Area 8 office in Somerset with assistance from interns from the 3 Rivers Ecological Research Center and biologists from the Somerset County Conservation District, surveyed 15 unassessed waters in the Laurel Hill Creek and Big Sandy Creek basins in Somerset and Fayette Counties. The surveys were conducted as part of a concentrated statewide effort to document wild trout waters throughout the Commonwealth that had not been previously surveyed. Using GIS technologies, streams with the potential to hold wild trout and that were also facing pressure from human influences were identified as candidates to sample. Sampling was conducted using backpack electrofishing gear during June and July 2009. Table 1 below lists the streams sampled and whether or not wild trout were determined to be present in the streams.

Table 1. Unassessed streams in the Big Sandy and Laurel Hill Creek basins surveyed during the summer of 2009.

Basin

Stream Name

Latitude/Longitude of Mouth

Wild Trout Documented

Big Sandy Creek

Stony Fork

39 45 58 / 79 37 28

No

Big Sandy Creek

Scotts Run

39 47 44 / 79 37 02

No

Big Sandy Creek

McIntire Run

39 47 30 / 79 37 06

Yes

Big Sandy Creek

Patterson Run

39 43 15 / 79 44 52

Yes

Big Sandy Creek

UNT to Little Sandy Creek

39 44 22 / 79 35 31

No

Big Sandy Creek

UNT to Little Sandy Creek

39 45 02 / 79 34 30

No

Laurel Hill Creek

Mose King Run

39 54 17 / 79 18 58

No

Laurel Hill Creek

Gross Run

40 01 45 / 79 13 21

Yes

Laurel Hill Creek

Crab Run

39 59 07 / 79 15 36

Yes

Laurel Hill Creek

Spruce Run

39 59 16 / 79 14 31

Yes

Laurel Hill Creek

Whipkey Run

39 54 41 / 79 18 21

Yes

Laurel Hill Creek

Paddytown Hollow

39 50 40 / 79 18 47

Yes

Laurel Hill Creek

Smith Hollow

39 51 22 / 79 19 11

Yes

Laurel Hill Creek

Crise Run

40 01 43 / 79 13 21

No

Laurel Hill Creek

UNT to Cranberry Glade Run

39 54 03 / 79 22 06

No

Out of the 15 streams surveyed, eight streams were documented as having wild trout. Many of the streams surveyed do not support fishable wild trout populations, but possess water quality and habitat suitable for wild trout. Also, many are located on private property and landowner permission must be acquired before angling is considered.

As the GIS methodology used to identify unassessed waters focused on encroachment by humans in a watershed, biologists made note of all stressors present in the streams that were sampled. As evidenced in the pictures below, sediment from runoff is just one of the major forms of pollutants that can severely impact a wild trout population. The brook trout pictured below is one of just a handful of fish captured in a stream with a severe sediment problem. Sediment can cover trout spawning redds and prevent trout reproduction from occurring, with negative effects on the wild trout population.

Sampling
Sampling a pool on a Laurel Hill Creek tributary

Brook trout
Native brook trout from a Laurel Hill Creek tributary. Heavy siltation from runoff has stained the water and reduced the wild trout population, despite what appears to be ideal habitat. Interestingly, the stained water also reduces the natural coloration of the wild brook trout.

 
– Prepared by Area 8 Fisheries Biologist Mike Depew

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