More wild trout streams identified in Pennsylvania
On Jan. 21, Pennsylvania Fish & Boat commissioners will likely give final approval to 38 new stream sections to be delineated as Class A Wild Trout Water. Staff biologists, based on surveys, had previously identified these streams, and the list was published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin in November, 2015.
These 38 flowing waters occur in 15 different counties and include 37 different streams or stream sections. Most of these are newly identified as having good, fishable populations of wild trout. Several are just extensions of streams that already include Class A water.
Geographically, the list stretches from Erie to near Philadelphia. However, most of these streams are in Centre or adjacent counties, such as Clinton, Union, Clearfield and Mifflin.
Although the list is growing, Class A wild trout water still makes up only a small percentage of the total miles of Keystone State trout streams. Many anglers remain unaware of how streams get on the list or why they are so special.
Every summer, biologists from the commission survey commonwealth streams to assess their quality. Instead of fishing rods, commission survey crews use electro-shocking apparatus to locate trout. On a small stream, a biologist wearing a backpack generator slowly wades up the middle of the stream. Wire leads are attached to a pair of insulated poles that have a 12-inch diameter metal ring on the bottom end. Mild electric current enters the water from the circular probes and temporarily stuns trout so that they can be netted and processed.
With few exceptions, Class A streams are usually not stocked because natural reproduction supplies plenty of trout. To make the list, biologists must locate at least 40 kg/ha (35.6 pounds/surface acre) of wild brown or mixed wild brook and brown trout. (The figure is a lower 30 kg/ha for native brook trout streams.)
Unless you are a fisheries biologist, these figures probably mean little. Let me translate it into a hypothetical trout population. Using average weights of wild brown trout for June, the population in a one-mile section of a stream measuring 20 feet wide (one acre) might look like this:
Length Number of trout
16 inches – 1
14 inches – 8
12 inches – 35
10 inches – 60
8 inches – 85
6 inches – 110
2.5 inches – 400
Please keep in mind, these are minimum standards. Most of the 38 stream sections sport over 50 kg/ha of trout, four are over 60 kg/ha, and one stream has more than five times the minimum number of naturally reproduced trout.
These are the best of the best trout streams in the state and it is a testament to our clean water laws that the list is growing. I applaud the commission's action in continuing to identify more wild trout water in the commonwealth.
Looking over the list, I know a few new streams that I will be prospecting this spring.