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Cattaraugus Creek (2004)

Fisheries Survey Summary

Cattaraugus Creek near the West Street crossing.

Cattaraugus Creek (an 11 mile section from NYS Route 16 bridge upstream through the village of Arcade to East Arcade) was electrofished at 8 sites in August, 2004 to evaluate the trout stocking policy as well as monitor the wild trout population. This section lies in the southwest portion of Wyoming County. The stream averages 40 ft in width and has a flow of about 30 cubic feet per second. About 8.5 miles of public fishing rights easements have been purchased on Cattaraugus Creek in Wyoming County. The recommended stocking is for 8,400 yearling brown trout divided into 3 increments and 1,000 two year old brown trout divided into 2 increments.

In 2004, wild brown trout biomass averaged 29 lbs/acre or about 279 adult fish/mile while stocked brown trout biomass averaged 13 lbs/acre or 165 fish/mile. Both wild and hatchery brown trout were very similar to estimated populations from a 1998 survey. In 1998, wild brown trout biomass averaged 30 lbs/acre with about 228 adults/mile while stocked brown trout averaged 11 lbs/acre with about 131 fish/mile. In 2004, wild rainbow trout biomass averaged about 11 lbs/acre or 359 adult fish/mile. This is a significant increase from 1998 when the wild rainbow trout biomass was 2 lbs/acre and 35 adults/mile. In the last 20 years, wild rainbow trout populations have increased greatly in many waters in the upper Cattaraugus Creek watershed. Only 5 brown trout young of year were collected while no rainbow trout young of year were seen. Most wild reproduction takes place in tributaries such as Clear Creek.

A 1997 creel survey estimated that fishing pressure was 600-800 hours/acre - very heavy to extreme under the existing rating system. There is no reason to think that pressure has decreased. The 1997 survey was done during the first year of stocking of two year old fish. The two year old stocking policy has become very popular in the state, and if anything, the pressure on Cattaraugus Creek may even be higher than it was in 1997. Only 6 two year old stocked fish were collected in 2004, probably indicating that most were caught and creeled.

Based on the 2004 sampling, it is recommended that the stocking policy remain the same. It is also recommended that the existing trout regulations of a 4/1-10/15 open season, any size minimum size limit, creel of 5/day with no more than 2 > 12 inches be kept. In addition, to increase angling opportunity, it is recommended that the season be extended from 10/16-3/31 as a catch and release, artificial lures only season to start 10/1/06 if approved.