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Mud Creek (Fenton Brook) (2013)

The Stream and Fishery

Technician holding large wild brown trout captured during Mud Creek survey.
Mud Creek wild brown trout.

Region 9 Fisheries staff, along with angler volunteers completed trout population sampling on Mud Creek, also known as Fenton Brook in June, 2013. The stream is located in western Cattaraugus County and provides a fishery for wild brown trout and rainbow trout. Mud Creek has not been stocked with hatchery trout since 2002, when a DEC survey found an abundant wild brown trout population and a wild rainbow trout population that was not known prior to 2002. The upper four miles of the stream appear to have good water quality and habitat for supporting wild trout. The lower two miles of the stream have a much lower gradient and character. Due to the stream characteristics in the lower two miles (a deep, incised channel, mud bottom and heavily pastured banks) fish population sampling, utilizing wade-electrofishing, has not been accomplished. However, anecdotal information from anglers indicates that wild brown trout are also caught in this lower section of the stream. Sampling was done in 2013 to monitor the wild trout populations on this tributary of Conewango Creek and also to gather baseline trout population information prior to a proposed regulation change to allow year-round angling beginning in the spring of 2015. There are currently no public fishing rights easements on Mud Creek. While some areas of the stream are posted and some are not, anglers should be prepared to ask for landowner permission to fish this stream. The stream averages 12-25 feet in width and summer water temperatures generally stay within the ideal range for wild trout survival and growth.

Electrofishing Results for Wild Trout

In 2013, three sites were sampled on Mud Creek, duplicating sites sampled in 2002. At least two of the three sites had also been sampled in 1992, 2003, 2007 and 2012. Adult trout habitat was good at all sites, consisting of large woody debris, undercut banks, deep scour pools and small boulders. The average abundance of yearling and older wild brown trout for all three sites in 2013 was 439 fish/mile and the average biomass was 82 pounds/acre. The values for wild rainbow trout in 2013 were 29 fish/mile and 3 pounds/acre (Table 1). The only other sampling year where the same three sites were done was 2002 when we found 329 wild brown trout/mile and 44 wild rainbow trout/mile. In 2002, we found 69 pounds/acre of wild brown trout and 3 pounds/acre of wild rainbow trout (Table 1). In comparing the average abundance and biomass of adult wild brown trout for 2002 and

Technician holding wild rainbow trout captured during Mud Creek survey.
Mud Creek wild rainbow trout.

2013, it appears that the wild brown trout population may have increased somewhat since trout stocking was removed in 2003, while the wild rainbow trout population has changed little or declined slightly (Table 1). It appears that a substantial portion of the wild brown trout population was of a quality size. Of the 134 adult wild brown trout captured in Mud Creek in 2013, 61 (46%) were >10 inches, 37 (28%) were >12 inches and 10 (7%) were >12 inches. If we compare wild brown trout abundance and biomass values for individual sites only, for all the years they were sampled, we see the values for 2013 were not generally as high as 2007 or 2012, but higher than 1992, 2002 and 2003 (Table 2). No clear trends appear in Table 2 for any of the sites, except at Site 1. However, this site was only sampled in three years.

Fewer wild rainbow trout were captured on Mud Creek in the 2013 survey than in 2002 or 2003 surveys and a similar number to 2007 and 2012 surveys, indicating this population may not be expanding as we expected based on what we have seen in other regional waters where rainbow trout were introduced. These wild rainbow trout were not introduced by DEC, but were likely progeny of fish stocked illegally by anglers. Other fish species captured in the survey included blacknose dace, mottled sculpin, white sucker, northern hogsucker, creek chub, pearl dace, central stoneroller, fantail darter, common shiner and rainbow darter.

Conclusions

Overall, Mud Creek supports a healthy population of wild brown trout along with a limited number of wild rainbow trout that should provide good wild trout angling in a rural, mixture of agricultural and forested lands. Anglers should ask for landowner permission before fishing.

Table 1. Average estimated abundance (#/mile) and biomass (lbs/acre) of wild brown trout (BT) and rainbow trout (RT) for all sites combined for Mud Creek in 2002 and 2013 electrofishing samples.
Year BT #/mile RT #/mile BT lbs/acre RT lbs/acre
2002 329 44 69 3
2013 439 29 82 3
Table 2. Estimated abundance and biomass of wild brown trout, by site from electrofishing in Mud Creek in 1992, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2012 and 2013.
Year Number per mile Pounds per acte
Site #1 Site #2 Site #3 Site #1 Site #2 Site #3
1992 115 558 --- 7 114 ---
2002 316 343 324 46 76 81
2003 --- 458 444 --- 60 113
2007 --- 774 471 --- 112 74
2012 --- 819 893 --- 173 233
2013 367 491 450 52 93 115

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