Wiscoy Creek Electrofishing and Water Temperature Monitoring (2012)
Nineteen inch wild brown trout captured
during Wiscoy Creek electrofishing survey.
During August, 2012, DEC Region 9 Fisheries staff and many angler volunteers sampled the wild brown trout population in Wiscoy Creek. Wiscoy Creek is located in Wyoming County and is considered to be one of Region 9's premier wild brown trout fisheries. The stream has not been stocked with trout since the early 1970's. Ten sites were sampled, duplicating efforts in 2006 and 2009. Several of these sites on Wiscoy Creek had also been sampled from 1978-2001. In conjunction with the fish sampling, a March-October Wiscoy Creek Angler Diary program was conducted. Water temperature monitoring was also conducted at six of the electrofishing sites in the summer of 2012.
Wiscoy Creek Fish Management
Wiscoy Creek is managed with a 10 inch minimum size limit and a 3 fish/day creel limit during the April 1-October 15 period and then with catch-and-release, artificial-lures-only regulations from October 16 - March 31. In addition, there is a one mile long section managed with catch-and-release, artificial-lures-only regulations all year.
Region 9 Fisheries staff electrofishing
For the 10 sites sampled on Wiscoy Creek in 2012, the abundance of yearling and older (adult) wild brown trout per mile varied substantially from 361 per mile to 1,670 per mile with an average of 1,065 per mile (Table 1). Sites in Table 1 are listed from downstream to upstream. This is slightly higher than the average value found in 2009, but lower than the average value found in 2006 and most previous sampling years. In Table 1, you see comparisons of the numbers of trout per mile each year, at each site and the averages for all sites each year from 1978-2012. An apparent increase was seen in average abundance from 1978 to 1988 surveys for reasons that are not entirely clear, but may have been due to improved habitat, decreased water temperatures and/or a great increase in the frequency of voluntary release of trout by anglers. This was followed by a steady increase in abundance seen from 1991 through 2001, followed by some apparent decrease from 2001 through 2012 (Table 1 and Figure 2). Habitat at all the sites was very similar in 2012 to what we found in 2006 and 2009, so it is unlikely that changes in trout abundance from 2006 to 2012 are habitat related.
Except in the catch and release section, Wiscoy Creek is managed with a 10" minimum size and 3 fish/day limit. The average number of trout >10" per mile (legal size) in 2012 was 334 per mile, while in 2009 it was 233 per mile and 404 per mile in 2006 (Table 2). Although the overall trout abundance was lower in 2012 than in 2006, we did find more, larger trout in 2012. The average number of trout >12" (140 per mile) and the number >14" (51 per mile) were higher than in 2001-2009. In addition, the number of trout >14" was higher in 2012 than in 1997-2009 (Table 2). Similar to 2009, a higher than normal percentage of age four and older fish were captured in 2012, perhaps from strong yearling age classes in 2006 and 2009, which would have been age 4 and age 7 fish in 2012.
Twenty one inch wild brown trout from
Wiscoy Creek electrofishing survey.
Big Brown Trout Results
The largest wild brown trout we captured on Wiscoy Creek in 2012 was 21.2", with 7 of the 10 sites producing at least one fish >16". We did not see any clear trend in the largest fish in each survey nor at any given site. However, three of the four largest fish captured in a given survey year were in 2006, 2009 and 2012. While large wild brown trout (>15") are always fairly rare in Wiscoy Creek, 2012 did have the highest percentage of the electrofishing catch >15" (3.13%) and >16" (1.94%) than any sampling year back to 1991.
The catch of young-of-year (YOY) brown trout on a per mile basis varied widely by site for 2012. In general, total catch was very high in 2012. Several sites (Village of Wiscoy, Pond Road, Fairgrounds and Above Bliss) consistently had very low YOY catch over all years sampled. At the sites with long-term data available (Scout Camp, Grey Cabin, Fairgrounds and above Trout Brook), YOY catch appears to be as high or higher than most years prior to the year-round fishing regulations being applied in 2004. At the two sites in the catch and release year-round fishing section, YOY catch also appears to have not been affected by fishing being allowed during the spawning and egg incubation period. It is likely that the patchy distribution of YOY catch indicates certain areas of Wiscoy Creek are more suitable for spawning than others.
Water Temperature Monitoring Results
Throughout the summer of 2012, automated recording thermometers were set at six locations, corresponding to electrofishing sites on Wiscoy Creek. Similar studies had been done in 1997 and 2006. This was another in a series of warmer and drier than average summers, with the May to August, 2012 period being the warmest on record in Buffalo (records dating back to 1874), and the June to August period being the 8th driest on record. July, 2012 was the third hottest in 138 years and July, 2011 was the fourth hottest. Six of the top 20 hottest July's have come since 2000 (Buffalo National Weather Service Office data).
The mean July water temperatures at our monitoring sites in 2012 varied from 66.2 F to 69.1 F. This is above the range reported by studies for streams with the highest abundance of wild brown trout (59-66 F). Data from 2006 temperature monitoring showed similar July average temperatures for main stream Wiscoy Creek temperatures, but in contrast, July 1997 average temperatures at the three sites sampled, were considerably lower (62.6-63.9 F).
Other comparisons of temperature extremes on Wiscoy Creek in 1997, 2006 and 2012, such as maximum high water temperatures, days with high water temps ≥ 70 F, and days with high water temps ≥ 75 F also indicate that water temperatures were far from ideal for wild brown trout growth and survival in both 2006 and 2012. However, while excessively high water temperatures may be playing some role in the decline of Wiscoy Creek wild brown trout abundance since 2001, it is likely there are other mitigating factors involving temperature refuges such as spring seeps or daily temperature cycling that are allowing brown trout to survive and, at some sites, thrive under conditions that appear to be above their optimum temperature regime.
|Village of Wiscoy||361||537||1,046||-||-||-||-||-||735||-||-||-|
|Below Pond Road||368||84||216||369||-||-||-||-||-||622||-||-|
|1 mi. below Rt 19||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||1,695||207|
|0.1 mi. below Rt 19||-||-||-||-||1,434||842||-||-||-||1,390||1,659||402|
|Below Trout Brook||-||-||-||-||-||627||1,101||-||-||2,565||-||1,341|
|Above Trout Brook||1,272||811||2,602||-||-||-||-||-||-||1,262||1,439||415|
|Upper Wing Farm||-||-||-||-||1,459||1,055||-||-||-||1,024||1,134||524|
|Lower C & R||1,500||1,318||1,529||-||2,622||2,866||1,706||2,193||1,430||-||-||-|
|Upper C & R||1,602||1,581||1,935||-||3,329||2,400||-||2,882||2,164||-||-||-|
|Upstream of Bliss||742||1,361||1,310||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Avg. all sites||1,065||956||1,432||-||1,717||1,313||1,293||-||-||1,376||1,549||543|
|Village of Wiscoy||231||157||93||249||115||48||465||106||74||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Blw. Pond Rd.||96||27||14||11||0||0||0||0||0||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Blw. Rt 19||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||388||93||16||375||118||30|
Blw. Trout Bk.
|Abv. Trout Bk.||360||202||61||189||104||38||620||124||0||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Avg. all sites||334||140||51||233||115||38||404||93||20||610||130||26||461||158||32|