Biologist reports logo Big Spring Creek

Cumberland County
September 6-10, 2004

Biologists from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission continued their annual monitoring of trout population changes in Big Spring Creek, Cumberland County following the closure of the Big Spring Fish Culture Station in November 2001. A total of four reference stations were electrofished the week of September 6. A brief summary from the survey stations follows each table below. The Big Spring Creek is managed under Heritage Trout Angling regulations from 100 feet below the source downstream to the Nealy Road Bridge. Big Spring Creek is stocked with hatchery brook trout and managed under Conventional Statewide Regulations from Nealy Road Bridge downstream to the Laughlin Mill Dam in Newville, Pennsylvania.

(left to right) Area 7 Fisheries Manager Dave Miko, Area 3 Fisheries Technician Jason Detar and
Coldwater Unit Leader Tom Greene Electrofishing Big Spring

Table 1

Enrichment from the hatchery discharge had supported an artificially high number of trout in the "Ditch." The Big Spring Fish Culture Station ended trout production and that discharge to Big Spring Creek in November 2001. Rainbow trout and brown trout numbers continued to decline. Brook trout numbers have remained relatively stable since 2002; however, the number of brook trout eight inches long and longer has fluctuated.

The "Ditch" at Big Spring Creek
The "Ditch" at Big Spring Creek

Table 2

Rainbow trout numbers declined in 2004, much of the reduction occurred in the three to five inch size range. Brook trout numbers have remained relatively stable since 2002; however, the number of brook trout eight inches and longer has steadily increased.

(left to right) Coldwater Unit Technician Bob Weber and Area 7 Fisheries Technician John Frederick
process fish at Big Spring Creek in the vicinity of the "Ditch"

Table 3

Rainbow trout numbers increased in 2004 with fish in the seven to nine inch category accounting for much of the increase. Rainbow trout less than five inches were not collected at this station in 2004. Brook trout fingerlings first captured at this location in 2003 were also captured in 2004. Overall brook trout numbers at this station decreased from 2003 to 2004.

Rainbow trout

Rainbow trout (top) and Brook Trout (bottom) collected during the Big Spring Creek survey

Brook trout

Table 4

No trout were captured at this station in 2004. The sixteen brown trout captured in the 2000 sample were hatchery stocked fish from the spring stocking program.

Table 5

Low numbers of trout were captured in all sample years at this 100 meter station. Rainbow trout which were absent from this station in 2003 remained low in 2004. The two brook trout captured in 2004 had adipose fin clips, which identified them as fish stocked as adults by the PFBC.

-- John R Frederick, Area 7 Fisheries Technician

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