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Wiscoy Creek Angler Diary (2012)

Introduction

In 2012, the NYS-DEC Region 9 Fisheries Office conducted an angler diary program for Wiscoy Creek, one of the best wild trout streams in New York State. The entire section covered by the diary program in 2012 is regulated with a 10" minimum size limit/ three trout per day creel limit, except for a one mile long catch and release section where no trout may be kept. In addition, the entire section covered in the diary program is open to fishing from October 16 - March 31 under catch and release, artificial lures only regulations. For comparison purposes, the 2012 diary program duplicated studies done in 1997, 2001, 2006 and 2009. In addition to the diary program, an extensive Wiscoy Creek Electrofishing Survey was also conducted in 2012.

Angler Diarist Effort

Wiscoy Creek angler landing a wild brown trout.
Wiscoy Creek angler landing a wild
brown trout.

From mid-March through October, angler diarists kept records of their fishing trips on Wiscoy Creek (not the N. Branch Wiscoy Creek or Trout Brook). Of the 61 diarists originally signed up, 24 (39%) actually fished the creek and returned diaries. This is a lower percent return than in 2006 and 2009 (48% each year). The diarists made a total of 104 trips, fishing for 239.25 hours (Table 1). This was considerably fewer trips and hours than in 1997, 2001 or 2006 diary programs and half the number of trips as in 2009. April, May, June and July had nearly equal numbers of trips (20-21), which is a considerably different pattern of use than seen in past years. Thirty nine percent of the trips came after July 1st, compared to 22 percent in 2009. The average trip length was 2.3 hours, which was considerably lower than in past years.

Angler Diarist Catch Rates

Diarists caught 271 brown trout, yielding a catch rate of 1.13 fish per hour (Table 1). Please note that angler diarists tend to be more skilled than the average angler, so their catch rates are usually higher than the average angler using Wiscoy Creek. The total catch rate in 2012 was lower than those for 1997, 2001 or 2006, but higher than for 2009 (Table 2). Of the 271 brown trout caught, only 3 brown trout were creeled (1%) (Table 1). Ninety of those fish caught (33%) were legal size (10 inches) and could have been creeled, however only 3 were. The size of the brown trout caught ranged from 3.5" (young-of-year) to a 19" fish, which may have been eight or more years old. The average length of brown trout released was 8.58" - very similar to 2006 and 2009 - while the average length for the three fish creeled was 13.2". These values were also similar to those found in the 2001 and 1997 diary programs.

Wiscoy Creek wild brown trout.
Wiscoy Creek wild brown trout.

The stream was divided into six sections for this study and three of the six accounted for 84% of the total trips. Total catch rates in 2012 varied greatly between sections. Because of low numbers of trips in individual sections, little information could be gained in analysis by section. Data on catch rates by section compared between years did not show noticeable correlations between sections and years.

Angler diarist catch rates were highest in October (2.80 trout per hour) and May (1.58 trout per hour), while the lowest catch rate was found in March (0.44 trout per hour). However, the October catch rate was based on only 3 trips and the March rate on 2 trips (Table 1). As with analyzing catch rates by section, because of relatively low numbers of angler trips in several months, no months had significantly different catch rates (Table 1). While overall angler diarist catch rates appeared to follow a similar pattern to electrofishing results by year, angler catch rates by section fished did not.

Catch Rates by Gear Type

Diarists fishing with flies accounted for 87% of the total trips while bait was used on 12% and lures were used on 1% of trips (Table 3). Catch rates for each gear type were 0.75 fish per hour for bait anglers, 0.83 fish per hour for anglers using lures and 1.20 fish per hour for anglers using flies. However, differences in catch rates between terminal tackle types were not statistically significant.

Conclusion

Overall, average angler diarist catch rates on Wiscoy Creek in 2012 were lower than in the 1997-2006 diarist programs, but higher than in 2009. Diarist catch rates in individual sections of the stream did not always correlate with electrofishing abundance, as they did in the 1997-2006 diary programs. Although angler diarists tend to have higher catch rates than the average angler, a catch rate of 1.13 trout per hour is very good for wild brown trout and indicates Wiscoy Creek supports a quality fishery, especially for skilled anglers.

The continued decline in participation in the diary program reduced our ability to determine, with precision, several aspects of angler use and catch. Participation in the diary program peaked in 1997 and 2001 and declined steadily with each succeeding diary program, something seen often on multi-year diary programs. While we are still collecting valuable, low cost data, we are no longer able to draw as much precise information on the fishery as in the first three years of the program.

Tables

Table 1. Effort in trips and hours; catch and catch rate (trout per hour) of brown trout (BT) from Wiscoy Creek angler diaries in 2012, by month.
Month Trips Hours Fished BT Caught BT Released BT Creeled Catch Rate
March1 2 6.75 3 3 0 0.44
April 20 51.0 35 32 3 0.69
May 21 53.25 84 84 0 1.58
June 20 50.25 67 67 0 1.33
July 20 40.0 55 55 0 1.38
August 11 22.25 13 13 0 0.58
September 7 13.25 7 7 0 0.53
October1 3 2.5 7 7 0 2.80
Total 104 239.25 271 268 3 1.13

1 Catch and release only regulations in effect for March and October after the 15th.

Table 2. Catch rate (trout per hour) of brown trout (BT) from Wiscoy Creek angler diaries in 2012, 2009, 2006, 2001 and 1997.
Section Catch Rate 2012 Catch Rate 2009 Catch Rate 2006 Catch Rate 2001 Catch Rate 1997
Total 1.13 0.77 1.34 1.20 1.27
Table 3. Effort in trips and hours; catch and catch rate (trout per hour) of brown trout (BT) from Wiscoy Creek angler diaries in 2012, by gear type.
Gear Trips Hours Fished BT Caught BT Released BT Creeled Catch Rate
Bait 13 29.5 22 19 3 0.75
Lures 1 6.0 5 5 0 0.83
Flies 90 203.75 244 244 0 1.20
Total 104 239.25 271 268 3 1.13