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Wiscoy Creek

Wiscoy Creek begins in south-central Wyoming County and flows southeasterly about 25 miles, passing through the villages of Bliss and Pike before draining into the Genesee River in Allegany County. The scenic Wiscoy is considered the premier wild brown trout stream in western New York. Combined with its tributaries, North Branch Wiscoy Creek and Trout Brook, form on of the most productive watersheds for wild brown trout in New York State.

Public Access

There are 12.6 miles of Public Fishing Rights (PFR) located along Wiscoy Creek, including five official PFR parking areas and numerous designated angler footpaths to the creek. There is an accessible fishing platform for anglers with disabilities located in the Village of Pike, off Main Street (Route 19) within the Wyoming County Fairgrounds.

Parking Areas

• Route 39 parking areas: There are three PFR parking areas along Route 39, all located between the villages of Bliss and Pike.
• Camp Road: There are two PFR parking areas along Camp Road, located between East Koy and Graham Roads.

Wiscoy Creek Public Fishing Rights Map (PDF) (509 KB)

Fish Species

Brown trout and brook trout.

General Fishing Information

Wiscoy Creek offers excellent opportunity to catch wild brown trout in a scenic backdrop. Some sections feel remote. While the creek is most popular in spring and early summer, trout are active all summer due to consistently cool creek temperatures. Fishing with a fly rod can be challenging in the upper public sections near Bliss, where the creek is fairly narrow and overgrown in places. The middle section is a series of riffles and pools with a gravely bottom, and is popular with fly and spinning anglers alike. The lower public section has deeper holes in a secluded setting. Please view Fishing for Stream Trout for more advice on fishing for both wild and stocked trout.

Regulations

Special fishing regulations apply (leaving DEC website to official Fishing Regulations Guide vendor website).

Fisheries Management

Wiscoy Creek is managed as a wild trout stream, providing a high quality fishery for brown trout. The Wyoming County section of the stream has not been stocked with hatchery trout since 1972 and has maintained an adult (yearling and older) wild trout population between 500 and 1,800 fish per mile since 1978.

Fisheries Survey Report 2015

Brown Trout Population Abundance

Fisheries staff performing electrofishing survey on Wiscoy Creek
Electrofishing on Wiscoy Creek.

During August, 2015, DEC Region 9 Fisheries staff, USFWS staff and many angler volunteers sampled the wild brown trout population in Wiscoy Creek by electrofishing. Ten sites were sampled, duplicating efforts in 2006, 2009 and 2012. Several of these sites had also been sampled from 1978-2001. In conjunction with the fish sampling, an angler diary was conducted. For the 10 sites sampled on Wiscoy Creek in 2015, the abundance of adult brown trout/mile varied substantially from 163/mile at the site in the Village of Wiscoy to 1,156/mile at the Route 39 site, upstream of Pike. The average for all 10 sites was 496/mile (Figure 1). The average abundance of adult brown trout in 2015 was approximately half of that found in 2009 and 2012 and about one third of that found in 2006, when we began sampling at the same 10 sites. At eight of the ten sampling sites, the adult trout abundance in 2015 was the lowest in the 2006-2015 period. Looking at all sampling years, the 2015 average adult brown trout abundance values were the lowest since 1978 (Figure 1). There did not appear to be dramatic changes in available adult trout habitat at any of the sites in 2015 compared to what we found in 2006-2012. Considering this, it is unlikely that decreases in trout abundance from 2006 to 2015 were specifically habitat related.

Large Trout

19 inch Wiscoy Creek wild brown trout.
19 inch Wiscoy Creek wild brown trout.

If there is some good news in this year's electrofishing findings, it is that the abundance of large (>15") adult trout was very high in 2015 (Figure 2). The largest wild brown trout we captured on Wiscoy Creek in 2015 was 22.5" (also the largest ever sampled on Wiscoy Creek), with 6 of the 10 sites producing at least one fish >18". The abundance of trout >15" remained consistently less than 10/mile from 1978-2006 surveys. Beginning in 2009, and especially in 2012 and 2015, we observed a dramatic increase in the abundance of larger trout with the number of fish >15" reaching 32/mile by 2015 (Figure 2). This increase in the abundance of larger trout may be partially due to increased growth rates (though this information was not collected in 2015) with lower overall density, or may be due to increased survival of fish to older ages, possibly due to increased catch and release practices by anglers catching large trout.

Young-of-the-year trout

Numerous studies in the fisheries research literature suggest that the strength of year classes (reproduction) of wild brown trout is the driving factor for adult trout abundance in future years. Those studies also find that the main factor behind reproductive success for brown trout are stream flow conditions at critical times during spawning, egg incubation and especially fry swim-up. For brown trout, high stream flows in the November-April period generally tend to cause poor successful reproduction compared to years with normal or low flows. Studies also show that these trends in reproductive success and future abundance of adult trout tend to be regional in scope, not specific to individual streams. Observed reproduction of brown trout (number of young-of-year trout captured) was variable between sites, but low overall in 2015, compared to past surveys (Figure 3). Reproduction observed in 2012 was very high, which should have led to an abundant number of age three fish in 2015, which was not observed. We also saw low reproduction in 2009. We did not sample Wiscoy Creek in 2013 and 2014 to measure reproduction, but data from other streams in those years indicates reproduction may have been low.

Potential Causes for Population Decline

The observed decline in adult trout abundance may be due to number of possible factors, including; poor reproduction, reduced water quality and/or high water temperatures, reduced in-stream habitat, disease, overharvest, extreme winter conditions and predation. Certainly some of the potential factors appear to be less likely than others. However, we do not have enough data to be confident in laying definitive blame to any of the factors. DEC is examining these possible factors to try and determine which are responsible for observed declines so we can take actions to correct them, if possible.

Angler Diary Results

From April through October, 2015, angler diarists kept records of their fishing trips on Wiscoy Creek. The 24 diarists made a total of 124 trips, fishing for 330 hours. The average trip length was 2.7 hours, which was the second highest (range: 2.1 - 3.1 hours/trip) of any of the diary program years (1997, 2001, 2006 and 2009), behind only 1997. Diarists fishing with flies accounted for 56% (69) of the total trips while bait was used on 17% (22) and lures were used on 27% (33) of trips. Catch rates for each gear type were 0.27 fish/hour for bait anglers, 0.83 fish/hour for anglers using lures and 0.49 fish/hour for anglers using flies. Diarists reported catching 177 brown trout, yielding a catch rate of 0.54 fish/hour (Figure 4). The average catch rate in 2015 was lower than any of the past diary programs. The angler diarist program was developed in 1997 as a low cost way for us to monitor the quality of the Wiscoy Creek trout fishery in comparison with observed trout populations from electrofishing. For the creek as a whole, angler diarist catch rate in 2015 mirrored the reduction in adult trout abundance observed in the electrofishing survey. The pattern of change in catch rate by diarists closely mirrored observed abundance of adult trout populations from 2006-2015 (Figures 1 and 4).

Summary

With an average adult trout density of 500 fish/mile, a relatively abundant population of large trout and plentiful public access, Wiscoy Creek should provide a quality wild trout fishing experience. NYSDEC plans to continue monitoring trout populations in Wiscoy Creek as part of Regional sampling in 2016 and will make appropriate management changes to the fishery if they are deemed necessary.

Figures

Graph showing average abundance (number per mile) for all sites for yearling and older wild brown trout captured in Wiscoy Creek, from electrofishing sampling in 1978-2015.
Figure 1. Average abundance (number per mile) for all sites for
yearling and older (adult) wild brown trout captured in Wiscoy
Creek, from electrofishing sampling in 1978-2015.
Graph showing abundance (number per mile) of wild brown trout greater than 15 inches captured in Wiscoy Creek, from electrofishing sampling in 1978-2015.
Figure 2. Abundance (number per mile) of wild brown trout > 15
inches captured in Wiscoy Creek, from electrofishing sampling
in 1978-2015.
Graph showing numbers of young-of-year wild brown trout captured per mile at Wiscoy Creek sites, from electrofishing sampling in 1978-2015.
Figure 3. Numbers of young-of-year wild brown trout captured per
mile at Wiscoy Creek sites, from electrofishing sampling in
1978-2015.
Graph showing angler diarist catch rates in fish per hour from Wiscoy Creek angler diary programs, 1997-2015.
Figure 4. Angler diarist catch rates in fish/hour from Wiscoy
Creek angler diary programs, 1997-2015.