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Elm Creek and The Ram (2013)

The Streams and Fishery

Elm Creek, located near the Village of Randolph in west-central Cattaraugus County, supports a fishery for wild brown trout. The stream is managed with a year-round fishing season that includes a catch-and-release artificial lures only season from 10/16 to 3/31. This regulation took effect in October, 2006. The stream has good water quality for brown trout in its lower two miles. The upper five miles of the stream are negatively affected by shallow flood control impoundments which warm summer water temperatures above favorable limits for wild brown trout. There are 0.4 miles of public fishing easements on Elm Creek, with another 0.5 miles of access in a village park. Posting was not evident along non-public areas of the stream. This is a rich stream, with fairly good trout habitat, primarily made up of undercut banks and large woody debris jams. The primary substrates are cobble and gravel. This stream appears to be quite stable with good riparian buffers in most areas and very limited evidence of eroding banks or channel migration.

Prior to 1996, Elm Creek water temperatures were negatively affected by surface overflow from a shallow, 15 acre impoundment, located on Elm Creek's major tributary, The Ram. In 1996, the pond drained due to a dam failure; the dam has not been replaced. Since the dam failed, summer water temperatures have improved greatly on The Ram and in Elm Creek.

Electrofishing Results for Elm Creek

Technician holding 21 inch wild brown trout caught during Elm Creek survey.
Twenty-one inch wild brown trout
from Elm Creek.

Elm Creek was surveyed by the DEC Fisheries Unit along with angler volunteers in July, 2013, to assess the status of the brown trout population. We sampled fish at the same three sites as 1991, 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2008. The abundance for adult (yearling and older) wild brown trout in 2013 was 927/mile and the biomass was 75 pounds/acre. Adult trout abundance in 2013 was similar to that found in 2003 and 2008, however biomass was substantially lower than in 2003 or 2008 (Table 1). The drop in biomass from 2003 and 2008 levels was likely the result of lower numbers of larger trout in this year's sample compared to past years. Of the 252 yearling and older wild brown trout captured in 2013, 44 (17%) were >10 inches, 24 (10%) were >12 inches and 12 (5%) were >14 inches. The two largest trout captured in this survey were 16.4 and 21.1 inches, very similar to 2008 values.

Electrofishing Results for The Ram

In 2013, one sampling site was also done on Elm Creek's tributary, The Ram. At this site, the abundance for adult (yearling and older) wild brown trout in was 614/mile and the biomass was 68 pounds/acre. As with Elm Creek, adult trout abundance in 2013 was similar to that found in 2003 and 2008 (Table 2). However, biomass was substantially lower than in 2008. Of the 54 yearling and older wild brown trout captured in 2013, 11 were >10 inches, 3 were >12 inches and 1 was >14 inches. The largest trout captured in this survey 15.9 inches. There are no public fishing easements on The Ram, however posting was not evident at the time of the survey. Anglers wishing to fish the stream should ask permission of the landowners.

Conclusions

Overall, Elm Creek continues to support a high abundance and biomass of wild brown trout that is capable of supporting a quality wild trout fishery in an area of the region with limited wild trout resources. Year to year variations in abundance and biomass are evident in our sampling, likely due to natural variations in the quantity of trout reproduction. It appears that both Elm Creek and The Ram wild trout populations have improved substantially since the draining of the impoundment on The Ram and the removal of trout stocking on Elm Creek. Elm Creek and The Ram are recommended to be surveyed again in 2018 to continue monitoring the status of their wild brown trout populations.

Table 1. Estimated abundance (Number/mile) and biomass (Pounds/acre) of yearling and older brown trout in Elm Creek from 1991 to 2013.
Year Number Per Mile Pounds Per Acre
1991 360 47
1997 635 73
2000 650 79
2003 1079 137
2008 946 127
2013 927 75
Table 2. Estimated abundance (Number/mile) and biomass (Pounds/acre) of yearling and older wild brown trout in The Ram from 1992 to 2013.
Year Number Per Mile Pounds Per Acre
1992 267 68
1997 141 53
2000 348 54
2003 682 85
2008 632 108
2013 614 68