Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB
Fly Fishing The Millers - With over 30 years of fly fishing this river I will claim more knowledge and fish caught than anyone. There are over 40 miles of river and I will take you to the best sections and if you want to sections that never see another angler. Don't be fooled by those who say the Millers is a Spring and Fall river. I'll show you how to have great Summer action. The "EB of the Westfield" - Wild and beautiful is the only way to describe this river. There's a lot of water here but I know where to go to catch trout. After a trip you will too!! Solitude and trout IS the EB. The Swift - 20 trout days are not uncommon on this river if you know what to do and use. I'll show the way and you catch the trout. RATES - Full Day (6 hours) = $150.00 for one, $225 for two (lunch included). Half Day (three hours) $90.00 for one, $155.00 for two. Beginners Class - 3 hours ffor $90.00, all use of rods lines, reels included.

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Steady Stonefly And A Bad Idea For The Swift.

There will be days when the fishing is better than one's most optimistic forecast and others when it is far worse. Either is a gain over just staying home. - Roderick Haig-Brown

Nothing gets my juices flowing like the thought of big stonefly nymphs becoming active in late May on the Millers and the EB. Both rivers are First Class 'stone rivers with their miles riffles and pocket water. Riffles and pockets, with their high oxygen levels, are the home of the stones. One thing for certain - if you have stoneflies you have a healthy river.

My nymphs are in the 8 to 12 size range with either olive/brown or yellow/brown making up the body color. The tails are made from two wisps of ostrich herl and the same material is wrapped around (palmered) the body to represent gills which all of the stoneflies that are important to us have. The hackle is cheap Indian cape hackle usually in brown with a wing case of black duck quill. It may be wise to lay a strip of super glue on the back of the body before you wind that fragile herl.

Stones hatch like the previously mentioned damsel flies. They crawl out of the water onto a rock or such, split their nymph case open and then fly away. Unlike the damsels, this hatch can last for weeks and unlike the damsels (again) the winged adult is of real importance!!!!! Stimulators come into play especially in the late afternoon and evening. You will not see concentrations of these flies but you will see the occasional "helicoptor" fly bye. Drop the fly at the tail of a riffle and hold on. Even after the hatch is history the trout still rise to the stimulator. This may be because they think its a hopper (or maybe not).

The Swift - another non-scientific solution has been launched to "improve" the fishery on the Swift and that is to eliminate the stocking of rainbows in this river. The same idea sprang up last year and it quickly sank without a trace (thank God)! The weak rational is that if you stopped stocking rainbows the brookies would return to the river in droves, multiply like crazy, leaving us with a first class brook trout fishery. Now they have a petition.

First - the author(s) of this idea has about 3 years experience on this river,if that, and not the 20, 30, 40, and 50 plus years of the fly fishers who disagree with him.

Second - if the author(s) had more experience they would know that the Swift has had a native brook trout fishery for at least 30 years. That's when I took a trout hatchery manager from Pennsylvania to fish it. He was amazed at the brook trout population covering many age classes.

Third (Most important) - the brook trout population has continued to grow year after year after year IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT WE ARE STILL STOCKING RAINBOWS!!!!!!! This fact disarms their weak argument that the rainbows are hindering the brookies. The Swift HAS BECOME A FIRST CLASS BROOK TROUT FISHERY without changes to our stocking policy.

Fourth - This is Conventional Wisdom without a shred of scientific data. How much available brookie spawning habitat is there on the Swift? What is the survival rate of each year class? What is the REAL impact of rainbow predation on Swift brookies, if any? Come to the table with some data, not your common sense opinion.

Do you want to end rainbow stocking? If you do then get set for another Spring of 2015 when the fishing was HORRIBLE (no rainbows). Except the condition will last through the Summer until the brookies group up again in the Fall.

One more thing - The Swift is not a natural trout stream. IT'S A TAILWATER. Before Quabbin the stream had brookies but nothing like today. Today it's a stable, cool environment. 80 years ago the little brook trout of this river had to deal with floods, droughts and warm summer flows AND HATCHERY TROUT. If you want undisturbed native brookies go above Quabbin on the West Branch. If you want quality fishing year round in a man made environment then fish the Swift below Quabbin.

It's 70 degrees outside. I'm in Florida. Time to hit that beach side bar.

Ken

37 comments:

gsadkins said...

Enjoy FL, Ken. I hope you'll have the opportunity to chase some Snook and Redfish while you're there! I'll see you next weekend at Charlie's.

Anonymous said...

I am one who did sign the petition. I respect your opinion Ken, however how can you say that the Brook trout population growth is not being stifled by stocked Rainbows? That makes no sense whatsoever. how many times in the Fall did you hook a baby brookie only to have a bigger bow pounce on it. I would be more than happy to go a couple of years without fishing the Swift if it meant producing a quality Brook trout fishery. Just my two cents.

Mike

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Mike,

Did you actually read my post or did you just scan it, extract bullet points and then apply the standard conventional wisdom for your counter point? I mentioned bows eating baby brookies and then asked for the impact study of this. There IS NO IMPACT STUDY, just cracker barrel opinion.

You don't have to stop fishing the Swift until you have a quality brook trout fishery. You have it already.

I respect your opinion but you have to do better.

Parachute Adams said...

My opinion is that it is a quality brook trout fishery already. I have caught all sizes of them and in my experience they are doing fine. I will not sign this petition.

Hibernation said...

Ken,

You picked a good weekend to go south - significant negative digits here in MA! Hope you brought a rod to chase around some fish - lots of fun fishing down there!

This is the first I'd heard of this idea. I have to admit, it's intriguing at face value.

To each of the points in your post, which appear strong and secure at first glance, you can step back and ask yourself the same questions in reverse. What I mean, is that you can reflect on those questions the opposite direction and come to the same - but opposite conclusion.

Is there a brookie mortality rate studied on the river? No (I'm assuming). So you cant say the rainbow's are or are not having a negative impact on the natives.

Is it likely that ceasing rainbow stocking would have a negative impact on the fishing for a few years? There is only one way to validate that... We have a data point from this year, but you could also argue that this fall's brookie fishing was as good as it's been in 20+ years on the swift. Point blank, correlation is not causation. So at this point, there is nothing we can look at on EITHER side of the debate and "know" anything. We can have opinions. Some grounded in years... others not. Easy to say years matter, and in ways they do. But they lead to bias as well. Fresh eyes often see things those of us who have seen things one way for decades can not.

For example, I've heard many complain on the swift about the trees in the water that have come down over the past 8~ years. Yes, they make things a little tricky, but wholly smokes they actually add huge positives to the river in the form of shelter, changes in water flow and stream bed structure not to mention habitat for insects the trout can eat. It would make no sense to have those removed from the river. Yet some would like that. Just because they have fished there for decades doesn't make them correct.

Look, like I mentioned, I'm just hearing about this for the first time. My visceral reaction is not to muck around on the river. The natives appear to be doing better year to year even with stocking, so it feels a bit like someone looking at an easy mark, rather than looking at ways to improve awesome native habitat elsewhere around Quabbin.

You mentioned the west branch... Heck, there are many, many streams from 3 feet to 8 feet wide going into the res with natives. They are hard to get to, they are classic wild trout water with plunges and minimal casting room. Many originate outside the res and some in. But would the same folks put effort into protection of those waters? Would they put effort into improving the habitat of those streams that barely make the map, but which are home to wild brookies? Or is such a public mark as the swift just a good spot for a currently popular concept (rainbow bashing).

That's the snag to me here at first brush. It sort of feels like taking an artificial, and fairly sterile water and trying to turn it into something it is not any more...

It's an interesting debate, and I see the merit of the idea. At face value it's an honorable concept. My gut reaction is that it's a bad idea on the swift... But the points you laid out as negatives could just as easily be turned back on you.

It's not as clean as lack of evidence so to speak...

Thanks for putting it out there! Again, I'd have not known about this, and I'm glad to. Keep those of us who enjoy your blog, and the info you share in the loop!

Thanks
Will

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Will,

Thank you for responding!

"Is there a brookie mortality rate studied on the river? No (I'm assuming). So you cant say the rainbow's are or are not having a negative impact on the natives."

Actually I can. The brook trout population has increased over the past 30 years WITH the rainbows in the river. That's not a negative impact. The rainbows may not have any real impact on the brookies at all. In short, one cannot assume a negative impact. One has to show proof of a negative impact.

Trees in the river add nutrients and cover. We agree and so does the DFW. That's why they turned a deaf ear to that one TU chapter that decided to go to war against beavers. Another lame idea brought on by well-intentioned but misinformed people.

And a very good point on native brookies in NATURAL streams. That's where some time and effort should be spent. The DFW has sampled and cataloged most of the watersheds in this State. It's all available online and one can spend an entire season fishing for trout in unstocked, un-dammed streams.

Last year one very articulate fly fisher, in an effort to improve brookie habitat on the Swift, proposed on this blog that rainbows not be stocked and that structures be built and gravel be hauled in to IMPROVE spawning sites. This is your "muck around" example that you stated. All good intentions that are intended to fix something that isn't broken.

Also, I'd like to add that I enjoy fishing for rainbows and browns in the Swift. They provide excellent sport and are responsible for the river's reputation as a year round fishery. And we have brook trout too. We are lucky!





Millers River Flyfisher said...

Sam,

Thank you for your comment!

Ken

Mike from Andover said...

Ken, I'm with you and some of the others who have posted on this topic - there is ALREADY a quality Brook Trout fishery on the Swift. Without scientific data, it is quite uncertain whether elimination of Rainbow stocking would necessarily improve the brook trout fishery. It is possible that lack of predation by the rainbows could result in a river full of "dinks", rather than the very sizeable brookies that live below Cady Lane (and migrate upstream in the fall). The brookies are plentiful, spread throughout the river, and are usually willing to bite. It's maybe a rhetorical question, but how much better can the brook trout fishery be? This past summer I stood in a run far upstream from the Pipe, catching one 8-10" brookie after another on a parachute ant, and got one 17" female down below Cady. If someone only fishes the Pipe, of course they will catch mostly rainbows. Personally, I prefer the variety, including the occasional brown which seem to be more prevalent lately (and can we maybe hope for some of those browns to spawn alongside the brookies?).

Mike C said...

I have only been fishing the Swift about 6 years. However every trip out there I am amazed at the trout density. I am sure the big rainbows eat the little brook trout. Of course the big brook trout also probably eat the little brook trout. That is the way of nature. Given the fact that there are large brook trout it seems the fishery is very healthy.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

To Mike and Mike C.,

Well said!

Ken

Jeff M. said...

My gut definitely tells me that removing the rainbows would in fact increase the brook trout population. However, I could not agree with Mike from Andover more. You would just create a river with thousands of 6-10 inch brookies. I agree that there is already a first class brook trout fishery and that is with heavy stockings of rainbows. Supporting stocking less or no rainbows doesn't make sense to me. I also think that changes to stocking should be considered. I know you support more browns in rivers across the state, not necessarily the swift, but why not load the swift up with browns? Summer mortality is not the issue here but browns have that special ability to avoid anglers and get huge. There are some BIG browns down below cady lane. There are already a good number of them in there but if we support the population I don't think any fisherman would complain. What do you think about this Ken?

To me, the more important thing to this river would be changing the catch and release regulations. I am a huge fan of selective catch and release to produce trophy quality fish. Encouraging anglers to responsibly take a trout for dinner is not a bad thing, it can be a great thing if done right. Taking rainbows between 10"-16" would be a good thing for this river but taking big fish should not be allowed. Instead of opening up the river for half the year and then restocking July 1, why not allow selective keeping of fish all year and letting big fish grow? I'm no expert but the current regulations don't make sense to me.

Hibernation said...

Glad my comment was taken well Ken - never sure how things will "sound" over the inter-webs so to speak :)

There are absolutely more brookies in the river. And bigger. As a teen it was a treat to catch one - a surprise. Now it's amazing how many there are. It's interesting that otters seem to decimate the bow's for a while, but the brookies seem able to figure things out faster and stay safe.

My guess is that someone see's that progress and thinks: "Imagine what we could do if the brookies had the best chance possible".

Fine... But seems to be a circular argument given the population has done nothing but improve for decades - in particular the last 5~ years or so.

Wonder if the same folks would be ok with no brown's or bow's on the millers? Neither are native...

I'm all for things like dam removal and habitat restoration (thank you for pushing back on the group wanting the trees to come out of the river - that was a BAD idea). But this one (especially with a day to sleep on it) seems a real bad idea.

Be well
Will

Joe C said...

This is a tail water guys not a natural free flowing stream. As such it is a resource that should be utilized for what it is. Look out west. Do all those famous tail waters have restrictions that don't allow anything but the native species to be stocked or left alone in them? Often many of the places people desire to fish out there were only inhabited by warm water species that most would call trash fish before the dams went in.

Once a river becomes a tail water the original dynamics of it are changed forever. It now becomes a managed resource. The DFW must look at resource allocation and return on investment. Look at last winter/spring when you couldn't find a rainbow to save your life. It created a lot of grumbling and complaining. You didn't hear anyone saying "yah but it's a great brook trout stream".

Some people want to catch and release others want to catch and keep. The only thing in common here is the catch part. Folks who have spent time on the river also realize that the herons probably take more brook trout out of the system than any rainbow does. How about the otter? Think they won't eat brookies if all the rainbows are gone. Why does the DFW stock rainbows? because the river dynamics are well suited for them. Browns? Not so much as they tend to require some different things so the best ROI is rainbows in an artificial fishery.

I'm all for leaving the river the way it is being managed now. Anyway if you give in and stop stocking rainbows, my guess is the first people to stop fishing the Swift will be the people who wanted the DFW to stop stocking rainbows.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Jeff, Will and Joe C.

More good points! Thank you!!!

Ken

Josh said...

A petition? Not a chance in h*ll id sign that and even then who are they presenting this petition to? Stop stocking because "we" said so? I don't think so.

Spring of 2015... Enough said.

Andrew said...

Ken, as with all your posts, thanks for writing and raising this debate. The point of yours I agree with most is that their should be scientific study (measure population by species, look at recent reproduction rates etc) before making changes. You certainly have tons more experience than I do on the Swift so read your concerns several times. At first, it seems status quo (keep stocking rainbows) is the right box to check. And it seems to make sense not to make changes until some more research is done.

With that said, in your 3rd point, do you have scientific proof that brook trout population has increased? If yes, can you point out those studies so the rest of us can read this scientific data? If your evidence is anecdotal, please share that as well. You spend lots of time on the stream and with all your catches your data sampling is likely accurate. It would just help the rest of us to know. But that can be a slippery slope. See what you say in the beginning of your 4th point

As to natural reproductive habitat, that sounds like an argument to make improvements here. In the 80s and 90s I spent time with Cape Cod TU to build wing deflectors on the Quashnet to improve the stream bed for wild trout reproduction.
http://capecodtu.org/QUASHNET_RESTORATION.php

Ken, you mention this is a tailwater fishery. Of course it is. I don't understand that point and the argument about stocking or a self supporting fishery. Some tailwaters are 'put and take', some are wild trout waters, and some, like the Colorado below Glen Canyon have evolved over time.

http://www.gcdamp.gov/keyresc/tf.html

My own bias? That we have more rivers and streams that have self sustaining trout populations. It seems that a river such as the Swift has some of the attributes (cold water, controlled flow) to allow natural reproduction, but likely would need some changes for increased natural production. Unfortunately many Commonwealth streams no longer have great characteristics for natural reproduction.


Falsecast said...

Oh boy I could see this being a big issue. :) Firstly, people tend to feel strongly on these topics one way or the other so I will try to comment in a balanced manner. Just last week I accidentally wandered into the off limits part of the hatchery, met the manager, and brought up this exact issue about Brookies (not suggesting they do it, but what he thought the impact would be). He never mentioned anything about this petition. I can tell you that he basically echoed what Ken said in his original post. He had "no idea" why the Brookies were exploding the last few years. He did tell me a lot about why they don't put a lot of Browns in, but that is another topic.

When I first read your post my initial thought was, "that might be good". As many of you have already raised, it's a lot more complicated and the outcomes are unknown. I say this because I have been fishing the Swift for 25 years and have never felt it was/is managed well. I call it the big aquarium. As fake as Kardashian, but a fun, technical, tailwater that I love as much as all of you. It's a special, weird, fake place, but we are lucky to have it and it is not broken now for sure. We are all stewards, to an extent, of the places we visit and have a repeated impact on. In my opinion you all have great, informed observations and opinions on this topic and I am sure are like me and enjoy reading about dam removals and other conservation efforts that have positive results for fisheries. None of that will happen on the Swift as we learned with the Bondsville dam situation.

That said, it's really down the fish stocking and the regulations that we can "play" with. I see this issue as having 2 variables. One completely controllable and replaceable. The other at the whim of mother nature. Why not play with the stocking? We can always find it didn't have the desired effect and go back to it? We could get creative with timing. Maybe hold off on fall stocking with most of the Brookies are spawning? The size and mix of stocked fish could be tested. I have to believe that it would be very easy to get back to where we are today in stocking at any time. The wild brookies could then be studied and theories revised. If it went great, then it's immediately a destination for wild fishing in MA that would be unique. I'd take that. If not, you restock.

I'll conclude by saying I am not sure I would sign a petition without knowing the full, say multi year plan with goals and metrics, but it is interesting and, in my opinion, well worth the discussion. I would also say that I would pursue single hook ALO from the dam to Cady lane long before I would pursue this topic, but it is good talk for zero degree days in Feb. :)

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Josh - PERFECT!!!!

Falsecast - Good points but I don't know what "Play with the stocking" means. They played with the stocking last Spring and we know what happened.

Andrew - I don't have any scientific proof that the brook trout population has expanded because I'm not a fisheries biologist but I have informal records and observations going back over a decade which support the claim. Many others have witnessed the same. It's a lot more valid than the unsupported claim that the brook trout are being harmed. The tailwater - It's not a natural occurrence as you would agree and the number of fish thriving in the Swift is directly related to that. I would't like to see hatchery fish dumped onto a stream that holds only native trout. The Swift is not that situation.

Ken

Bob O said...

Ken, the first I’ve heard of this topic is here on your blog. It would probably be helpful if the specifics and parties involved were identified. Who are the players/authors? If there is a petition, how do we find it? To whom might it be presented? How might opposition be mounted?

Beyond weighing in on merits/demerits of concepts, any influencing activity will need be initiated and exerted beyond the bounds of this blog.

Otherwise all we have here is fireside chat – not that there’s anything wrong with that …

Rtrout said...

Just curious to hear opinions...does anyone think the delayed spring stocking and lack of rainbows last winter could have been partly responsible for the boom in Brook trout this year?

I know populations have been increasing especially over the past two years, but this year was phenomenal.

I haven't heard about the petition and don't think it's a great idea without further surveying, but from a scientific standpoint I think it's an interesting topic.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Rtrout,

I don't think so. It's a steady increase over this decade. The great October 31 2011 storm that dropped so many trees into the river probably helped.

Bob O,

I can't bring myself to showing the way. Just Google.

Ken

Josh said...

An observation i've made over the short time i've been on the river is how the habitat splits up the brookies & rainbows into different sections. For example, the "jungle" is always loaded with brookies and much less rainbows/browns/etc. You can have a field day on brook trout just about any time of the year. Then you move into the more freestone areas and you'll see all the rainbows/browns/stockers. Moral of my story, I think they co-exist just fine.

I've caught smallmouth bass on flies all the way up at the waterfall above the Y pool, do you think they have in impact on brookies? I think so.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Josh,

I've seen but have not caught smallmouth in the overflow arm of the Y Pool. In the summer that water is warmer so they stay there. That was at least 10 years ago. I haven't seen or heard reports of them anywhere else so I don't think they are harming brook trout.

Ken

Falsecast said...

Ken - Great conversations as always and I am in agreement with you that the river is in good shape now, including a growing Brookie population. I am not a fisheries biologist so what I meant by "Play with stocking" is that if there were presented scientific proposals for testing the impacts of not stocking for a period of time or other methods I would find it interesting.

I would imagine it would have components of establishing baseline current populations and then , perhaps deciding to take a stretch of water, cease stocking, and observe fish density, grows, age class, etc. Attempt to answer many of questions we are hypothesizing about here.

Again, I would not sign some blanket petition that says "stop stocking", but would be interested in seeing what a real scientific study on the Swift would look like. The idea of a wild, sustaining brook trout population, either in a tailwater or not, is still an admirable conservation goal.

Hibernation said...

This has been a really interesting read.

Ill second you Ken - I think the added wood to the river from major storms (08 ice storm, 10~ October blizzard and 11 hurricane) has improved both the habitat and food supply which has helped the brookies. I also wonder, if the fertility of the river has increased a bit, thus increasing the variety of food items on hand...

Ill also second the more brookies thing. There is NO doubt in my mind that there are more now than 10 years ago. You always saw them and caught them... but for at least 10 years there "feels" like there have been more every year.

It would be fun to see a big overflow from the reservoir again - with just the right timing - to yield the salmon/laker action of 11 into 12... And that fits with, I think it was falsecast, who noted the river sort of feels like fishing an aquarium. It does - and it's unique due to that for sure! We are really fortunate to have it available to us!

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Will,

All very good points

Doug Lyons said...

Perhaps it is a matter of values but I fail to see where fishing over a self sustaining population of trout is a bad thing. From a scientific point of view there is little to debate - stocked trout hinder wild trout populations while they sustain themselves poorly. While it would certainly be wise to do the proper science to vet the merits of this proposal there is abundant literature out there to tell us that stockies and wild trout do not mix well (Vincent studies on the Madison and Bachman studies in Pa hand out) and that stockies carry over are caught at a rate of about 30 % (Michigan, NY and Vt studies dating back to the 40s) while hold over from year to year is negligible. In other words 70 % of the dollars spent are never returned to the angler … and this is a cycle that is repeated year after year after year. For rivers that lack natural reproduction the expense can be justified. For streams that can sustain themselves it is a waste of money and more importantly a waste of unique resource.

Dismissing out of hand the idea of establishing and sustaining a wild trout fishery in order to catch stocked trout - a commodity that is both expensive and common place seems extraordinarily short sighted. Do the proper science but stocked rainbow trout can be found all over the place. Can the same be said of wild brook trout streams?

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Doug,

Well, they (stockies and natives) seem to be doing well together here. This resource is managed for fishing and is not a science experiment. Maybe we can get rainbows and browns to spawn in the Swift then all the trout would be native. But then the purists would say that they are not indigenous natives and others would say that it's a man made environment and so on and so on.....

Enjoy this resource and stop trying to fix it.

Doug Lyons said...

As I said it is a matter of what one values. I have no issues with stocked trout - rivers like the Millers and Quabog would offer very little trout fishing if not for stocking. What I struggle to understand is why resource managers and anglers would not value self sustaining fisheries; particularly with our native brook trout - the native salmonid of the Swift watershed despite the fact that it is now a tailwater. Wild trout fisheries are unique particularly here in the Bay State. Stocked fish are neither unique nor special. Unfortunately anglers have for too long been led to believe that their trout must come from a hatchery. Apparently to the point that anglers prefer state issued trout over the real thing. Baffling.

While stocked rainbows and wild brookies are existing together it is not accurate to say that rainbows are not limiting the potential of the brook trout fishery. A limiting factor in all trout streams is available holding water. To the degree that you have rainbows in the river you are going to have less holding water for brook trout.

I do find it ironic that you are implying that stocking fish is NOT "fixing" a river while a naturally reproducing fishery you view as "fixing".

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Doug,

I fail to see why you are so "baffled" and that you find the majority stance on this as "ironic". If the Swift was a free flowing stream with age class brookies ranging from 1 inch to 20 inches I would object strongly to any trout being stocked. BUT IT ISN'T!!. That river is managed as a fishery with rainbows and browns stocked over native brookies with no apparent ill effects. You don't know if rainbows are limiting the potential of the brook trout fishery. At this stage it's just a feeling. Holding water????? How about different species claiming different niches?

Ken

Anonymous said...

There are 3 possible effects on brook trout in the swift caused by fish stocking.

1- Stocked fish are hurting the brook trout population.

2- Stocked fish have no effect on brook trout population.

3- Stocked fish have helped improve the brook trout population.

The people in favor of ending stocking believe outcome 1 because it makes sense. Rainbow trout compete with brook trout for resources, and rainbows eat smaller brook trout. But just because it makes sense doesn't mean it's true.

I would actually argue that, based on the evidence, stocked fish may have helped improve the brook trout population. Nobody disputes that there are more brook trout than there were 10-15 years ago, so why are anti-stockers beginning with the assumption that stocked fish are hurting the brook trout population? That's the opposite of the evidence.

Isn't it just as possible that rainbow trout present a more attractive food option for larger predators (including fisherman) and every bow in a net or in a stomach is one more brook trout in the river? Isn't it just as possible that rainbow trout and brook trout in the swift preferentially feed on different insects(more experienced swift fisherman could answer this better than me), and that the rainbow's feeding habits have actually increased available food for brook trout?

I have no idea. I'm a biologist, but I'm not a fishery biologist. I don't understand why people are so quick to assume stocked fish are hurting natives *in the swift* when the evidence actually says the opposite. It's bad science to begin with such a strong bias.

Joe

Hibernation said...

While I disagree that the swift should be converted to a BT fishery over a stocked fishery... One thing Ill agree globally with Doug's points on, is the management of wild trout fisheries here.

I'd love to see some of the waters that have been found to be home to wild, sustaining populations of brook trout protected. I'm fine with folks 'gear' fishing... Ill start my kids there with worms and floats (already have actually) and I have no issue with that. I do have issues with going to a stream that is known to have native and wild brookies and wild browns only to see clear evidence of folks catching limits (gut piles etc).

It would be really nice to see special reg's on waters like that to protect those fisheries. If you want to catch and keep - fish waters that's allowed, but on stream X Y Z etc it's catch and release only etc.

There are many streams - thankfully many people do not go through the effort to find them or explore them - that have wild brookies and some with browns as well here in MA. It would be great to see at least the well known ones get some protection.

Keep well guys
Will

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Doug,

Backman's study has nothing to do with the Swift.No fishing and no trespassing with the observer hidden was the case on his Pennsylvania stream. Not the crowded conditions of the Swift. No fishing over spawning native trout either as is the case on the Swift.

Still those Swift brookies keep coming regardless of the rainbows.

Ken

Doug Lyons said...

Bachmann's study is relevant because of the added element of stocking fish and what the outcome was. As a behavioral study it is not.

At the end of the day there is only so much room at the inn.

Anonymous .. there is NO scientific literature that you will find that says that stocked fish will help wild fish. The old theory of one stocked fish plus one wild fish equals two just doesn't add up - there is ample literature to support this.

Ken - we will just have to agree to disagree. I think it is jut too bad that folks are not interested in at least exploring what might be possible.

I'll leave it where I started it …. do the science and see what is possible. Dismissing it out of hand passes on what could be a unique opportunity.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Doug,

My final words on this post: I looked up the Chicopee River Water Quality Assessment Report which contains data on the Swift River. Sampling done in 2004 showed multiple year classes of brook trout in the Swift. This dovetails nicely with the observations of the hatchery professional that I introduced to the Swift in 1989 and the experiences of most who fish this river.

Sometimes trout don't behave like common sense would dictate. Our refrigerated river is doing pretty well. If only the rainbows would successfully spawn.

Ken

Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed reading all the points, counter points, pro and anti arguments. The first thought that came to me is where does the funding come from? I would rather see this "new" money be spent on policing existing regulations; something I haven't seen signs of in decades. Lastly, if any money is to be spent on river research, why not do something more with one of the most unique fish populations in the entire North East - the self sustained salmon population of the Wachusetts Reservoir. With no biological difference from their ocean running kin, this has to be their southern most breeding ground in North America; and also throws a wrench into the "global warming" theory as a reason for their demise.

Al in Mansfield

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Al,

I've been told that salmon parr can take a warmer environment than a brook trout can. Also that the thermocline present in deep lakes can buffer "global warming" effects. That's why dams down south created trout streams from cat fish rivers!

I remember that Texas, back in the 1980's, wanted to plant landlocks in a deep, man made lake of theirs. I don't know what happened there.

I remember when the Stillwater River was stocked with LL.Salmon smolts back in the early 1980's. Those adult fish came back in no time! If that dam ever comes down on the Quinapoxet that river might become the best LL Salmon stream in New England.

Ken