Sunday, October 9, 2022

Trout tails: In search of native strains

Trout Power anglers searching for brook trout DNA samples near Sagamore Lake this summer.

When the volunteers of Trout Power get together for a fishing weekend, they are more interested in a small clip of fish fin than a trophy specimen. They aren’t looking for the biggest or most beautiful trout.

They are looking for genetic information, and they have found it. The nonprofit organization is working with genetics researchers to expand our understanding of native trout strains scattered throughout the park. The strains show minimal mixing with stocked trout and have survived centuries of threats like acid rain and game fishing. The genetic diversity the anglers and researchers are finding, more robust than previously understood, may be a key weapon against the growing threat of climate change, which could warm water temperatures to level uninhabitable for cold-water fish like brook trout.

I spent time this summer with a group of volunteer anglers near Sagamore Lake. You can read about it in an article I wrote about the latest in brook trout genetics for the September/October magazine.

In other news, the Supreme Court of the United States on its first day of a new session heard a challenge to the government’s interpretation of what constitutes a wetland under the federal Clean Water Act. It’s not clear how the justices will rule, but some environmentalists are concerned they will make it more difficult to protect important wetlands separated from other waterways by various types of natural and manmade barriers – even when the waters relate in a broader system.

The case, Sackett v. EPA, comes just days before the 50th anniversary of the landmark water-protection law, which many supporters see as among the most effective anti-pollution laws on the country’s books.

Clean water will be the focus of next week’s annual Lake George Salt Summit hosted by the Lake George Association. I will be on the ground Thursday at the Fort William Henry Hotel for the conference so reach out if you want to chat.


Photo: Trout Power anglers searching for brook trout DNA samples near Sagamore Lake this summer. Photo by Zachary Matson

Editor’s note: This first appeared in Zach’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Zachary Matson has been an environmental reporter for the Explorer since October 2021. He is focused on the many issues impacting water and the people, plants and wildlife that rely on it in the Adirondack Park. Zach worked at daily newspapers in Missouri, Arizona and New York for nearly a decade, most recently working as the education reporter for six years at the Daily Gazette in Schenectady.

One Response

  1. Glenn L. Pearsall says:

    Working for DEC summers 1969-1970, and shocking streams, determined there was a native Brook Trout population in Putnam and Pine Ridge Brook, Johnsburg, Warren County.

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