Thursday, March 14, 2024

Brook trout plan

Trout Power volunteer holds a brook trout.

Planning for (lake-dwelling) brook trout

State fisheries managers are seeking input on a plan that will shape their approach to managing lake-dwelling brook trout for the next 15 years. They hosted their first public information session in Old Forge on Saturday and have another one scheduled this weekend in Warrensburg.

After adopting a new trout stream management plan and regulations in 2020, the Department of Environmental Conservation is now working on a similar plan for the unique brook trout that live out their lives in Adirondack ponds and lakes.

I’m hoping to make it to the session this weekend and provide a full report. In the meantime, I did get an update from someone who made it to the one over the weekend. Former forest ranger Gary Lee, who has long fished the area’s many backcountry waters, said a panel of DEC fisheries staff outlined the emerging strategy.

Lee said they mentioned increasing the size of water bodies subject to no-bait-fish rules and trying to get more strategic with choosing reclamation sites, where invasive fish are killed off in hopes a brook trout population can be established.

State officials in recent years have sought to manage stocking programs to emphasize the development of naturally-reproducing populations. In places where trout are reproducing in the wild, they don’t need to stock. This also helps maintain the genetic diversity of trout within the park – bolstering long term survival chances.

The plan comes as scientists continue to sound alarms about the threat of warming temperatures on brook trout habitat. The fish rely on cold, oxygenated water, which could grow increasingly rare in decades to come.

Read more about threats to brook trout by clicking here.


rowhouses in Baltimore

Lots of nice rowhouses in Baltimore, a city connected to its water. Photo by Zachary Matson

Learning from data

I spent a good part of last week at Baltimore’s beautiful Inner Harbor picking up some new tricks at a data journalism conference – and trying some crab cakes. Weather. Climate. Water. Trail miles. The issues we cover are awash in data.

Journalists around the world are producing incredible work on environmental and ecological changes using mapping data, satellite image and visualizations.

Check out this study of the Amazon river basin. Working directly with a science adviser, a team of reporters and designers developed a threat index to highlight declining water quality in the sub-watersheds of the world’s largest river system.

I’m trying to get more into GIS, so send along any interesting tips or datasets. And thanks to whoever at Cornell produced the blue line polygon file. I started by mapping the park’s… water line.

Photo at top: State fisheries managers are working to develop a new management plan for Adirondack lake-dwelling brook trout. Explorer file photo.

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.

2 Responses

  1. Richard Monroe says:

    Zachary, I am interested to know, have you heard any updated reports on the native brook trout strain discovered re-establishing itself up in Colden? I have heard nothing new since the initial NYSDEC announcement reported in the Enterprise a few years back. I enjoy reading your work. Thank you.

  2. Raymond Budnick says:

    I submitted the following proposal during the DEC’s open inquiry from the public prior to the final implementation of their new policy on trout streams.
    Unfortunately, this time I cannot make either meeting to pass this concept on again. Hopefully the following idea will be forwarded onto the DEC for consideration prior to the implementation of any new policies pertaining to our brook trout ponds in the Adirondacks.

    As an avid trout fisherman for all my life I have realized that the existing regulations on creel limits for brook trout can seriously affect the genetic advantage and overall numbers of trout in a given pond or lake.
    At present, we are allowed to keep 5 fish in total. With no more than 2 of those fish being larger than 12″.

    Unfortunately, that policy allows for a potentially excessive amount of fish to be taken daily. As well as the loss of too many large breeder trout.
    Given an average size of 9″ for the 3 small fish and quite possibly fish in the 16-18″ range for the 2 larger fish. The present creel limit allows enough fish to feed 6 adults daily!
    And, if someone has two or three lucky days in a row, as some fishermen I know of are quite capable of doing, the loss of the largest genetically superior breeder trout would be very detrimental to the conditionally proven genetics of the overall population.

    To address this problem please consider the following:

    If instead, of a # of fish creel limit, as the 5 with no more that 2 in excess of 12″ now is. If instead, there was a limit on the total length of fish in the creel.
    And so, in practice, as each fish is caught and kept, it’s length would be added to the existing fish’s lengths in the creel.
    Then, prior to dispatching the next fish caught, one would then decide if the length limit will be exceeded. And if exceeded then that fish must be released.

    The following example will prove that this idea creates a very healthy “self-limiting” creel limit.
    So, for example, Let’s use a 25″ total creel length limit, and look at the effect that such would have on the breeders and overall #’s of fish kept.

    With a 25″ total creel length for fish, if you caught and kept an 18″ breeder. You could not keep another 13″ ,16″, 18″ or even 20″ as the overall creel lengths would be 31″, 34″, 36″ or even 45″s!! You instead then, could only keep another 7″ or smaller fish. Or:
    With a 10″ trout in the creel, you could only keep another fish of up to 15″. = 25″
    If you are trophy fishing, you could keep a single (impossible) 25″ fish! = 25″
    If you want a good meal you could keep two 12.5″ fish. & etc. etc. = 25″

    But at no time could you keep two beautiful 18″ native breeder fish. Nor two 15″ healthy breeding age fish. Nor even two 13″, up and coming breeders. Yet, with this concept, you can still fish for that once in a lifetime trophy, or put a good meal on the table every day!

    This idea has been ran by guides and several people trained in fisheries biology, and they all feel as though it is an astounding idea that will naturally self-maintain a fishery in it’s healthiest possible state. Yet, when I submitted this idea at the proper time, prior to the DEC stream plan implementation, all I got was crickets……

    Please! Anyone who may read this and may have connections to the DEC. If you feel it has merit, then Please forward this idea on to whom you may know for serious consideration.
    Let’s do all we can to assist the return of our once great Brook trout fishery we once had.

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