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Prendergast Creek (2013)

The Stream and Fishery

Region 9 Fisheries staff, along with angler volunteers completed trout population sampling on Prendergast Creek in July, 2013. The stream, which flows into Chautauqua Lake, is located in south-central Chautauqua County and provides a fishery for wild brown trout. Prendergast Creek has not been stocked with hatchery trout since 2001, when a DEC survey found an abundant wild brown trout population and some property posting issues. Most of the lower three miles of the stream appear to have suitable water quality and habitat for supporting wild trout. The stream benefits greatly from cold water entering via Wing Creek, above which the stream is generally too warm to support many wild trout. However, some of the section below Wing Creek suffers from erosion problems due to past gravel removal operations in the stream. Long-term gravel removal has led to down cutting of the stream bed, excessive bank erosion and loss of stream stability in some areas.

Sampling was done in 2013 to monitor the wild trout population and also to gather baseline trout population information prior to a proposed regulation change to allow year-round angling beginning in the spring of 2015. There are currently no public fishing rights easements on Prendergast Creek. While some areas of the stream are posted and some are not, anglers should be prepared to ask for landowner permission to fish this stream. The stream averages 25-30 feet in width in the section where summer water temperatures stay within the range for wild trout survival and growth.

Electrofishing Results for Wild Trout

Wild 20.7 inch brown trout from Prendergast Creek survey.
20.7 inch wild brown trout from
Prendergast Creek.

In 2013, two sites were sampled by electrofishing, duplicating sites from 1990 and 2001. Site lengths were 575 ft and 605 ft. Adult trout habitat was fairly good at both sites, consisting of log jams, undercut banks and deep pools. The average abundance of yearling and older wild brown trout for both sites combined in 2013 was 174/mile and the average biomass was 27 lbs/acre (Table 1). In 1990 and 2001, when the stream was still being stocked with hatchery trout, we found 238 yearling and older wild brown trout/mile and 303/mile, respectively. In those two survey years we found 28 lbs/acre of wild brown trout and 51 lbs/acre, respectively (Table 1). Several large wild brown trout were captured in the 2013 survey including fish of 17.6 and 20.7 inches. We found 76 fish/mile >10 inches, 67 fish/mile >12 inches and 40 fish/mile >14 inches in 2013.

Conclusions

In comparing the average abundance and biomass of adult wild brown trout for 1990, 2001 and 2013, it appears that the wild brown trout population has varied substantially and has not increased since trout stocking was removed in 2002, (Table 1). Most of this variation was due to changes in the population at our upper site (where the stream is less stable due to gravel removal). The estimated numbers of adult wild brown trout/mile at the lower site has been very stable over the three survey periods (133/mile, 148/mile and 113/mile). In the past, we have usually observed increases in wild trout populations on streams when we removed stocking. The fact we did not see it on Prendergast Creek may be due to past stream disturbances affecting trout reproductive success and/or the quantity and quality of in-stream habitat. Anglers should remember to ask for landowner permission before fishing the stream.

Table 1. Average estimated abundance and biomass of wild brown trout for both sites combined for Prendergast Creek in 1990, 2001 and 2013 electrofishing samples.
Year Brown trout (number/mi) Brown Trout (pounds/acre)
1990 238 28
2001 303 51
2013 174 27

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