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Oatka Creek (2013)

The Stream and Fishery

Fisheries staff sampling on Oatka Creek at Route 19 bridge below Rock Glen.
Fish sampling on Oatka Creek, at
Route 19 bridge below Rock Glen

Region 9 Fisheries staff, together with angler volunteers completed trout population sampling on Oatka Creek in June, 2013. The stream is located in north-central Wyoming County and provides a fishery for both wild and stocked brown trout and stocked brook trout. Oatka Creek was stocked in early-April with 1,700 yearling brook trout and in late-May with 800 yearling brown trout over four miles from Route 19 in Warsaw to the falls in Rock Glen. The stream has supported a moderate population of wild brown trout in past surveys.

Sampling was done in 2013 to monitor the trout populations and also to gather baseline 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 Oatka Creek. Most of the stocked portion of the stream is not posted, however anglers should be prepared to ask for landowner permission if posting is evident. The stream averages 15-25 feet in width and summer water temperatures generally stay within the range for brown trout survival and growth.

Electrofishing Results for Wild Trout

Biologist holding wild brown trout from Oatka Creek.
Oatka Creek wild brown trout

In 2013, two sites were sampled, duplicating sites done in 1991 and 2001. Site lengths were 400 feet and 297 feet. Adult trout habitat was fair to good at both sites, consisting of boulders and rock rip-rap. The average abundance of yearling and older wild brown trout for both sites combined in 2013 was 439 fish/mile and the average biomass was 52 pounds/acre (Table 1). In 1991 and 2001, we found 221 yearling and older wild brown trout/mile and 446/mile, respectively. In those years we found 25 pounds/acre of wild brown trout and 52 pounds/acre, respectively (Table 1). It appears the wild brown trout population in Oatka Creek improved from 1991 to 2001 and remained steady in 2013. In 2013, 129 fish/mile were >10 inches, while 53 fish/mile were >12 inches and 15 fish/mile were >14 inches. The two largest wild fish captured in 2013 were 15.4 and 17.7 inches.

Electrofishing Results for Stocked Trout

Hatchery brook and brown trout abundance and biomass in Oatka Creek in 2013 sampling was 152 fish/mile and 18 pounds/acre. This was a considerable increase from 1991 and 2001 (Table 1). The stream was stocked at a rate of 625 fish/mile in 2013. Two brook trout from the April stocking and 18 brown trout from the May stocking were found in our sampling sites. While we did find more hatchery fish remaining in Oatka Creek than in other stocked streams sampled this summer, we should have found more stocked fish remaining at the end of a wet, cool June. Due to relatively low angler use, it is unlikely that angler harvest accounts for a large percentage of the stocked trout loss. More likely, the hatchery fish are poorly adapted to living for a long period of time in the stream environment.

Conclusions

Overall, Oatka Creek supports a healthy population of wild brown trout along with hatchery brook and brown trout early in the season. This should provide good trout angling. Anglers should be sure to ask for landowner permission before fishing on any posted sections of the stream.

Table 1. Average abundance and biomass of wild brown trout (BT) and hatchery brown trout and brook trout (ST) for sites sampled on Oatka Creek in 1991, 2001 and 2013 electrofishing.
Year Wild BT (#/mi) Hatchery BT and ST (#/mi) Wild BT (lbs/acre) Hatchery BT and ST (lbs/acre)
1991 221 88 25 10
2001 446 11 52 2
2013 439 152 52 18