Ford Brook and Tributaries (2009)
Fisheries Survey Summary
On July 14, 2009, DEC Region 9 fish staff, assisted by angler volunteers sampled the trout population in Ford Brook and four of its tributaries by electrofishing. The stream is located in southern Allegany County and is a tributary of the Genesee River. It has a watershed that is mainly forested, with some agricultural activity, oil and gas development and residences. There is some beaver activity, although impoundments do not appear to be extensive. There are no public fishing easements on Ford Brook or its tributaries; however posting was not extensive. Anglers wishing to fish these streams should obtain landowner permission prior fishing.
Ford Brook has previously been sampled in 1926, 1941, 1965, 1973, 1981, 1992 and 1993. In 1879 and 1884, the stream was stocked with rainbow trout fry. In 1878, 1880 and 1881, it was stocked with brook trout fry and in 1892 brown trout fry were stocked. Between 1926 and 1965, this stream was stocked with fingerling brook trout and brown trout. Fingerling brown trout were stocked until 1993, when all stocking was discontinued and the stream was managed solely for wild brook trout. A few wild brown trout were found above the mouth in the 1981 survey; however no wild brook trout were found in the surveys until 1992. The 1992 survey found good numbers of wild brook trout at both sites (mouth of S. Branch and at T-3), with some wild brown trout at the mouth of the S. Branch. A 1993 survey at the first bridge above the mouth, found only a singe wild brown trout, along with eight other fish species.
In the 2009 survey, we sampled three sites on Ford Brook itself (first bridge above mouth, just above the S. Branch, and at T-3). At the lower site, we captured three adult wild brown trout (one of which was 18.5") and two young-of-year brown trout in 200 feet of stream. We also captured seven other fish species at the lower site. At the middle site (just above the S. Branch) we captured seven adult wild brown trout from 5.7" - 12.5", and two young-of-year brown trout in 350 feet of sampling. Six other fish species were captured at the middle site. The upper site, located at the mouth of T-3, was 200 feet long and produced four adult wild brook trout (5.6"-9.5"), three yearling wild brown trout (4.3"-4.6") and two young-of-year brook trout. The upper site also had blacknose dace and mottled sculpin present.
T-3 and T-4 of Ford Brook
Two tributaries of Ford Brook, T-3 and T-4, which enter Ford Brook above the S. Branch were sampled at one site in each tributary. These streams had never been sampled and are not currently classified as trout water. The sampling sites were located at road crossings upstream of the main Ford Brook. In T-3, we found four adult wild brook trout (5.1" - 9.7") and two adult wild brown trout (7.3" and 7.8") in 75 feet of stream. In T-4, eight adult wild brook trout (4.9" - 9.8"), eight young-of-year brook trout and one yearling wild brown trout were captured in 175 feet of stream. Mottled sculpin were the only other fish species captured in these two streams.
South Branch Ford Brook
The S. Branch of Ford Brook has previously been sampled in 1926, 1941, 1972, 1975, and 1993. From 1926 - 1941, this stream was stocked with fingerling brook trout. Stocking was removed in 1941 due to posting and oil pollution. No wild trout were captured in the 1941 and 1972 surveys done near the mouth. The 1975 survey found wild brown trout near the mouth and wild brown trout and brook trout below T-1. Three wild brown trout were found above the mouth in the 1993, but no wild trout were found at a site below T-2 in that survey.
In the 2009 survey, we sampled two sites. At the lower site, located at the mouth, we captured five adult wild brown trout (4.3" - 8.3") in 300 feet of stream. We also captured five other fish species at the lower site. The upper site, located 0.1 miles upstream of T-2, was 100 feet long and produced two adult wild brook trout (5.0" and 5.8"). The upper site also had blacknose dace, creek chub and mottled sculpin present.
T-2 of South Branch Ford Brook
This tributary of the S. Branch was previously sampled in 1975, with one site 0.1 miles above the mouth producing several wild brook trout and one young-of-year brown trout. Records show it was stocked with fingerling brook trout in 1926. No record was found of when this policy was dropped, but it likely was in 1941 when the South Branch was removed from stocking .
In the 2009 survey, we sampled one site, which was located approximately 0.8 miles above the mouth. We sampled 150 feet of stream, capturing three adult wild brook trout (4.3" - 4.8") and nine young-of-year brook trout in very limited habitat. Mottled sculpin and blacknose dace were the other fish species present.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Ford Brook and its tributaries have improved as wild trout streams due to the abandonment of farm land and the reduction in the amount of oil and gas drilling in the watershed over the last 30 years. This has allowed the reestablishment of riparian trees and shrubs to keep summer stream temperatures suitable for trout survival. The main stream and several of its tributaries are currently not adequately classified as wild trout water. Based on the presence of wild trout throughout its length, the entire stream from mouth to headwaters, the entire S. Branch and the three other tributaries reported on here should be reclassified as wild trout water.
In Ford Brook itself, it appears that wild brown trout are in the process of displacing the wild brook trout population that was found there, almost exclusively, in the 1992 survey. It appears that marginal stream temperatures and sedimentation may be allowing the brown trout to out-compete the brook trout. It is likely that brook trout may in the future be driven back into the smaller, colder tributaries, where they have been surviving since at least the early stockings.