Quantifying the trout resources we have …
I just returned from a two-day trout fishing trip with my brother to the mountains of North Carolina – something that I had wanted to do for many years. The scenery was breathtaking, and it would be difficult to find wildtrout streams more attractive than Fires Creek and the Bradley Fork—two of the streams that we fished.
Rhododendron- and laurel-lined, big moss-covered rocks, nice pools, pocket water to no end and a good supply of naturally-reproduced rainbow and brown trout—what more could you ask for?
My brother John and I did some research—on the Internet, consulted Don Kirk’s book, “Smoky Mountain Trout Fishing Guide and the North Carolina Atlas & Gazetteer.” Through a local Pennsylvania friend, I also made contact with a North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission trout biologist, Doug Besler. He made some-helpful suggestions, including Fires Creek, but he couldn’t answer one of my questions – a very important one:
“How many trout are there in Fires Creek?”
Besler replied, “Oh, we don’t know that.”
I responded, "I was hoping that you might have a ‘blue ribbon’ or ‘class A’ list of streams with a known biomass of trout, like we have in Pennsylvania.”
Besler asked if I knew how many miles of trout streams that his state has. " We just don’t have the personnel or resources to measure trout biomass,” he said.
Here in the Keystone State, my go-to list of streams is the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission’s list of Class A Wild Trout Waters – available on the agency’s website. These streams, located all across the state, have all been surveyed several times by commission survey crews. Not only do they know if there are wild trout present, but have approximated HOW MANY trout there are. This is invaluable information for any wild trout angler.
North Carolina doesn’t know their trout biomass, but we know ours here in Pennsylvania. And why? Even with our tight-budgeted, fishing-license supported agency, the Fish & Boat Commission has invested the money and the human resources to learn just what we have in the way of wild trout. In fact, this summer, the streams will be surveyed at a faster rate than ever before (more money, more resources). This is the third summer emphasizing increased stream assessment because of the Marcellus shale boom and concern for its effect on state waters.
I’m glad that the Fish & Boat Commission has placed a priority on this. Discovering the presence of naturally-reproduced trout and knowing how many trout live in each stream lets us better protect our cold-water resource from degradation. That is important to me, and it should be important to you, too .