Upper Schoharie Creek Creel Census (2008)
The upper Schoharie Creek is a trout stream that has headwaters in the northeast portion of the Catskills near the hamlet of Elka Park in Greene County. The stream flows northwest through the village of Hunter and the village of Prattsville before entering Schoharie Reservoir. A fish migration barrier dam exists on the stream just east of Prattsville and the section of the steam above this barrier is considered trout water. The section of the stream from the Prattsville barrier dam to Elka Park, a distance of 21.8 miles, is divided into 5 reaches, generally stretching between major tributaries. Each reach has a separate stocking policy. Adding all the stocking policies, a total of approximately 15,640 yearling brown trout and 1,600 two-year-old brown trout were stocked by the DEC. To determine the success of this stocking, in terms of angler catch and creel rates, a roving angler survey of access points on the upper Schoharie Creek from the Prattsville barrier dam upstream to Elka Park was conducted from April 1 to October 15, 2008.
Creel Survey Results
The fishing pressure estimate for the entire season on upper Schoharie Creek was 10,641 angler hours. This was about half the fishing pressure the stream was being stocked for, so the stocking rates will be adjusted to fit the estimated pressure from the census. Stocking within any particular stream reach is based on the estimated hours of fishing per acre of stream. The average fishing pressure for all stream reaches combined was 73.2 +/- 7.5 hours per acre. The fishing pressure ranged among the 5 reaches from 15.8 to 101.2 hours per acre. The lowest pressure seen was on the uppermost stream reach near Elka Park.
The catch rate estimate of trout for the entire season on upper Schoharie Creek was 1.0 fish per hour. The catch rate among the 5 reaches ranged from 0.8 to 1.5 fish per hour. The stocking rate methodology employed by the DEC is predicated on a catch rate of about 0.5 trout per hour, though higher catch rates shortly after stocking are accounted for in the model. The high catch rate confirms that Schoharie Creek was receiving more trout than necessary to meet our catch rate objective. The creel rate for trout averaged 0.3 fish per hour, with a range among the 5 reaches of 0.3 to 0.4 fish per hour. The creel rate for yearling size trout was 21%, while the creel rate for larger trout was 55%. Of the hatchery trout stocked, an estimated 1,870 yearling and 1,210 two-year-old trout were creeled. The estimate for wild trout is 18 fish creeled, and for stocked trout that held over from a previous year, 57 fish were creeled.
Fisheries Surveys Results and Conclusions
Stream trout population surveys were conducted from late August to early September, 2008, at 7 locations within the section of Schoharie Creek sampled by the creel census. These population surveys were expanded to provide an estimate for the total trout population for the whole creel survey section of Schoharie Creek. The estimates are that by the time of these surveys were conducted near the end of summer; there were 265 yearling trout, 464 two-year-old trout, and 531 wild trout in the upper Schoharie Creek. The estimates for the total two-year-old trout that were creeled plus those found by the population survey slightly exceed the total for two-year-old trout stocked, but are well within the limits of error for each estimate. The estimates for the remaining yearling trout within the Schoharie Creek system suggest that the stocked yearling trout are either suffering high mortality rates or are emigrating out of the section of stream where they were stocked in large numbers, or some combination of both as over 13,000 fish are unaccounted for. A large population of Mergansers was noted on the stocked section of the stream, but the mortality they produced on the stocked yearling trout is unknown, though undoubtedly high.