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The Native Fish Coalition of Pennsylvania is urging the Fish and Boat Commission to end the stocking of nonnative trout species and is asking anglers to support an online petition to the Commission on this issue.

Pennsylvania is home to 113 native species and is rich in limestone deposits and springs creating nearly ideal conditions for coldwater species, including the brook trout, Pennsylvania's official state fish.
The brook trout is one of only two trout, salmon, or charr that are native to the state, along with lake trout, and are said to occupy over 4,000 miles of rivers and streams.
Wild native brook trout populations have been seriously compromised, or lost, from most lakes, ponds, rivers, and large streams in Pennsylvania.
With the exception of Big Spring, most of the fabled limestone creeks such as Letort and Falling Springs are now all but devoid of wild native brook trout.
In many cases, the introduction of nonnative trout, mostly browns, has compromised the native trout. Nonnative rainbows are an issue in some waters as well, and now pose a threat to the wild native brook trout in Big Spring.
Stocking also poses a threat to wild native fish in Pennsylvania with the Fish and Boat Commission stocking nearly 3.2 million trout in 2020 alone. Another 1.25 million were stocked by private parties, most of which were stocked in public waterways.
For more information on this issue, visit the Native Fish Coalition of PA's online petition webpage.
Visit the Native Fish Coalition of Pennsylvania website for more information.
For more information on trout in Pennsylvania, visit the Fish & Boat Commission’s Trout Plan webpage.
NewsClip:
Daily American: Efforts Underway To Enhance Wild Native Brook Trout Fisheries - Len Lichvar
 

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I have a small limestone spring creek near me. It sits entirely(all 1/2 mile of it) on City property that is open to the public. Growing up in the 60's+70's the creek and 3 small ponds were all off limits to fishing...."nursery waters no fishing" signs were posted. Over the years most signs "disappeared" the last remaining sign was washed away during Hurricane Floyd. It has been a few years since I walked the creek but in the past it held a decent population of Brookies.

I have repeatedly brought up trying to preserve this creek to both the PFBC + local TU but have pretty much fallen on deaf ears. It is NOT stocked so there would be no conflict. It is on land that has a very slim chance of being sold off. And finally it is already "governed" by the PGC as Co-op lands so it has the same basic rules as a Gameland.

As far as stopping stocking of non-native in Pa ..... not going to happen. Here in the Eastern portion of Pa that drains into the Atlantic most of the fish we target are not native... Besides brown + rainbow trout - musky, pike, walleye, bass, several panfish including bluegills, carp, channel cats(we all know flatheads were accidently stocked by the PFBC) and now snakeheads are being "stocked" by fishermen were all introduced. Without looking back through the list again I think our(eastern Pa) non-migratory natives are brookies, yellow perch, pickerel and various suckers and other minnows and chubs.

So for those of us in Eastern Pa that leaves very little to fish for.... Alewives(river herring), various shad, stripers, white perch and eels. Of course all the dams will have to be removed and we have nothing but historical data to tell us how far up our rivers + creeks those fish will "seasonally" migrate to. I really can't see stripers migrating too far up the Lehigh or Schuylkill Rivers and I don't see brook trout moving back into most of our streams without major efforts at reforestation.

Northwestern and Western Pa will fair somewhat better as some of those fish are native to those regions
 

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I have a small limestone spring creek near me. It sits entirely(all 1/2 mile of it) on City property that is open to the public. Growing up in the 60's+70's the creek and 3 small ponds were all off limits to fishing...."nursery waters no fishing" signs were posted. Over the years most signs "disappeared" the last remaining sign was washed away during Hurricane Floyd. It has been a few years since I walked the creek but in the past it held a decent population of Brookies.

I have repeatedly brought up trying to preserve this creek to both the PFBC + local TU but have pretty much fallen on deaf ears. It is NOT stocked so there would be no conflict. It is on land that has a very slim chance of being sold off. And finally it is already "governed" by the PGC as Co-op lands so it has the same basic rules as a Gameland.

As far as stopping stocking of non-native in Pa ..... not going to happen. Here in the Eastern portion of Pa that drains into the Atlantic most of the fish we target are not native... Besides brown + rainbow trout - musky, pike, walleye, bass, several panfish including bluegills, carp, channel cats(we all know flatheads were accidently stocked by the PFBC) and now snakeheads are being "stocked" by fishermen were all introduced. Without looking back through the list again I think our(eastern Pa) non-migratory natives are brookies, yellow perch, pickerel and various suckers and other minnows and chubs.

So for those of us in Eastern Pa that leaves very little to fish for.... Alewives(river herring), various shad, stripers, white perch and eels. Of course all the dams will have to be removed and we have nothing but historical data to tell us how far up our rivers + creeks those fish will "seasonally" migrate to. I really can't see stripers migrating too far up the Lehigh or Schuylkill Rivers and I don't see brook trout moving back into most of our streams without major efforts at reforestation.

Northwestern and Western Pa will fair somewhat better as some of those fish are native to those regions
What the OP shared is somewhat misleading. They're not pushing to end stocking entirely, just to stop stocking streams that have current populations of native brook trout.
 

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Here in the Eastern portion of Pa that drains into the Atlantic most of the fish we target are not native... Besides brown + rainbow trout - musky, pike, walleye, bass, several panfish including bluegills, carp, channel cats(we all know flatheads were accidently stocked by the PFBC) and now snakeheads are being "stocked" by fishermen were all introduced.
I had no idea that some of those species were not native to eastern Pa (walleye, bass, bluegills, channel cats). Do you have a link or other source that discusses native Pa species? I'd be fascinated to read about the subject.
 

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They're not pushing to end stocking entirely, just to stop stocking streams that have current populations of native brook trout.
Correct. As it says right at the beginning "We, the undersigned, urge the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to end the practice of stocking waters where wild native brook trout are present."

The petition is recommending that, and nothing else.
 

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I have been stocking a thousand trout a year since 1977. The local sportsmen’s club operates a co-op hatchery, raising over 20,000 trout a year. We stocked brook trout in the past, but since an outbreak of gill lice about five years ago, the hatchery switched to rainbows. I’m uncertain how many streams get stocked, maybe ten....I stock parts of two steams with my truck / tank, twice every spring ( preseason and inseason ) . I believe every stream stocked holds some native brook trout, some more than others.

I haven’t seen a reduction in the number of native trout in these waters. They were there before we began stocking, and they’re still there today. The brook trout in these mountain streams struggle to reach 7”....it’s been that way since my Grandfather‘s days. The addition of these stocked trout add a lot of angling opportunists to the folks fishing these waters.
 

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I had no idea that some of those species were not native to eastern Pa (walleye, bass, bluegills, channel cats). Do you have a link or other source that discusses native Pa species? I'd be fascinated to read about the subject.
Here you go..... PA Species by Watershed
 

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I think I would be hard pressed to find a stocked stream within an hour drive from me in Central Pa that doesn't have a population of native brookies. That's a lot of streams that would no longer be stocked, and a lot of unhappy fishermen. I can't see them risking losing license sales over it. A small mountain stream near me in the Quehanna wildlife area stopped stocking several years ago to help increase the native population. There hasn't been much change in that stream population wise.
 

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I agree with no longer stocking in streams with a class C or better population of native brook trout.

Trout should only be stocked in streams with marginal habitat.

There are people who view browns as an invasive species but our trout fishing in PA would be much worse if browns hadn’t been introduced. They’ve been able to reproduce in streams where brook trout wouldn’t.
 

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I'm not picking a fight, but what classification would you use to describe a stream with marginal habitat? Do you think they would base it off of available biomass? I grew up catching native brookies out of streams with acid mine drainage and aluminum leaking into them. That's what I would consider marginal, and there are still fish there. Like I said before, if you cancel stocking in streams that have a native population, you can take basically every stream stocked in Clearfield County, with the possible exception of maybe 1 or 2, off the stocking list. So where do we draw the line? You will always have the fight of wild vs stocked, big vs small, blah blah blah yada yada yada. I fish because I enjoy it. That being said I primarily fish for stocked trout because they are larger in my area. I spent years as a child and teen catching 3-5 inch natives. It just simply doesn't interest me anymore. I understand why people do, and am happy for them if they enjoy it. If the funding is there to improve the native species, great. I've seen reclamation projects work right in my back yard with limestone spillways, gravel bars, and the like. So what streams do we take off the list? I fished with my 3 year old son this past Wednesday on a stocked stream in Clearfield County. There are native fish present in it. It hadn't been stocked since the second week of April and we still saw no less than 20 people fishing. And I'm pretty sure they weren't there fishing for Natives. The stream obviously has the biomass to support a native population. The stocked fish there do not have enough food. I'm an adult, I understand that. That's why its a put and take resource. So would the commission be willing to take that stream off the list, make it a native sanctuary, and lose thousands of people who fish that stream every year for stocked trout? I just can't see that happening.
 

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I caught native brook trout this year in the Black Moshannon. Native trout move in and out of small feeder streams into larger water. Can’t see the Black Mo being taken off the stocking list.

Meanwhile, here in Butler, across the road from my home, the Fish Commission repeatedly stock the headwaters of the Connoquenessing Creek. Its nothing but a muddy, brushy, chub filled mess. Every stocked trout will be dead by July. Makes perfect sense to me.
 

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We have a bunch of native trout in several mountain streams, you wouldn't think it in Lancaster Co but I have caught and released 10 inchers. One of those streams runs out of the mountain into a meadow where the stream is stocked about a mile away from the mountain. That stream in the mountain has not only native brook trout but because they our brown trout into the creek in the meadow it now has brown trout reproduction and some pretty nice brownies and they don't look like the ones that the PF&B stock. I have caught a bunch on caddis nymphs that I tied.
 

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I'm not picking a fight, but what classification would you use to describe a stream with marginal habitat? Do you think they would base it off of available biomass? I grew up catching native brookies out of streams with acid mine drainage and aluminum leaking into them. That's what I would consider marginal, and there are still fish there. Like I said before, if you cancel stocking in streams that have a native population, you can take basically every stream stocked in Clearfield County, with the possible exception of maybe 1 or 2, off the stocking list. So where do we draw the line? You will always have the fight of wild vs. stocked, big vs. small, blah blah blah yada yada yada. I fish because I enjoy it. That being said I primarily fish for stocked trout because they are larger in my area. I spent years as a child and teen catching 3-5 inch natives. It just simply doesn't interest me anymore. I understand why people do, and am happy for them if they enjoy it. If the funding is there to improve the native species, great. I've seen reclamation projects work right in my back yard with limestone spillways, gravel bars, and the like. So what streams do we take off the list? I fished with my 3 year old son this past Wednesday on a stocked stream in Clearfield County. There are native fish present in it. It hadn't been stocked since the second week of April and we still saw no less than 20 people fishing. And I'm pretty sure they weren't there fishing for natives. The stream obviously has the biomass to support a native population. The stocked fish there do not have enough food. I'm an adult, I understand that. That's why its a put and take resource. So would the commission be willing to take that stream off the list, make it a native sanctuary, and lose thousands of people who fish that stream every year for stocked trout? I just can't see that happening.
I consider marginal habitat to be a stream that has few wild trout and gets warm in the summer. It's a difficult question on where to draw the line. I would say that any stream that has a class C population of native brookies should not be stocked. A lot of streams that once were native brook trout streams don't have them anymore. Quite a few people blame the stocking of browns and rainbows as the principle reason, but I think that development has a lot to do with it. Native brook trout simply don't do well in non-forested watersheds. There's no question that browns are more dominant, but there have to be other factors to the decline.
 
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We have a bunch of native trout in several mountain streams, you wouldn't think it in Lancaster Co but I have caught and released 10 inchers. One of those streams runs out of the mountain into a meadow where the stream is stocked about a mile away from the mountain. That stream in the mountain has not only native brook trout but because they our brown trout into the creek in the meadow it now has brown trout reproduction and some pretty nice brownies and they don't look like the ones that the PF&B stock. I have caught a bunch on caddis nymphs that I tied.
I've also caught a lot of native brook trout over the years and most are substantially bigger than 3-5 inches. A lot are less than legal size, but I've also caught native brook trout over 12 inches in PA. They are extremely rare but are a special prize.
 

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The Buckshow, as TT explains a marginal trout stream is one that has little to no natural reproduction (it's usually due to summer temperatures being inhospitable but also can be due to poor pH for egg survival/hatching). These streams may still.provide fantastic stocked trout fishing opportunities for most of the spring and fall.

There actually are not as many wild Brook trout streams left in PA as we might think and protecting them should be a priority. Personally in streams that have been documented to contain wild Brook trout, at the very least I would the stocking of Brown and Brook trout to stop. If a stream like that is still desired to be stocked it should be only Rainbow trout.

On one of my favorite local trout streams that contains a remarkable wild brown trout (and some wild Brook trout in a tribs) population both in and out of the stocked section, years ago they stopped stocking Browns and Brook trout and only stock Rainbow trout. And it has worked great I think. The rainbows that aren't creeked tend to do a pretty good job of holding over and through simple word of mouth anglers were educated that any wild brown trout you catch is wild and to please consider releasing it but the rainbows are stocked and are great on the grill if you choose.

Browns are tough on wild Brook trout because unlike Brooks and Rainbows, by 9 inches Brown trout become almost entirely piscivorous. Browns can also hybridize with Brook trout. When it comes to displacing wild Brook trout I think Browns are a primary concern compared to Rainbows.
 
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The Buckshow, as TT explains a marginal trout stream is one that has little to no natural reproduction (it's usually due to summer temperatures being inhospitable but also can be due to poor pH for egg survival/hatching). These streams may still.provide fantastic stocked trout fishing opportunities for most of the spring and fall.

There actually are not as many wild Brook trout streams left in PA as we might think and protecting them should be a priority. Personally in streams that have been documented to contain wild Brook trout, at the very least I would the stocking of Brown and Brook trout to stop. If a stream like that is still desired to be stocked it should be only Rainbow trout.

On one of my favorite local trout streams that contains a remarkable wild brown trout (and some wild Brook trout in a tribs) population both in and out of the stocked section, years ago they stopped stocking Browns and Brook trout and only stock Rainbow trout. And it has worked great I think. The rainbows that aren't creeled tend to do a pretty good job of holding over and through simple word of mouth anglers were educated that any wild brown trout you catch is wild and to please consider releasing it but the rainbows are stocked and are great on the grill if you choose.

Browns are tough on wild Brook trout because unlike Brooks and Rainbows, by 9 inches Brown trout become almost entirely piscivorous.
I agree with most of what you said, though I'm not a big fan of stocking any trout into streams that have good wild trout populations. The trout that are stocked are often larger than their wild counterparts and can claim the better spots. Rainbows are the least likely to successfully spawn of the stocked species in PA. The rainbows that are stocked by the PAF&BC spawn in the fall and rainbow trout eggs can't survive water temperatures less than 40 degrees. The great majority of PA streams, especially the freestoners, get colder than that in the winter.

The only other disagreement is that I think brown trout after they reach 9 inches are more likely to eat fish, but will still eat lots of insects, crustaceans, or whatever they can catch.
 

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Ending stocking over native brook trout populations results in an improvement in those populations.

And it has no effect on the number of hatchery trout that are stocked. They are just shifted from the streams where brookies live, which are usually smallish streams, to larger waters, providing more recreation there.

So, the smallish streams end up with greater trout populations.

And the larger waters end up with more hatchery trout.

So the result is more trout overall for us to fish for.
 
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