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Old 09-02-2009, 09:43 PM   #1
jmh8098
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Lightbulb Advice on fishing stubborn pond brookies.

I just thought I'd throw this out there and see if someone has any ideas for me. I have the privlige of having access to a 15 acre brook trout pound in the Newcomb area. It's deepest point is about 45 feet with a good portion of the pond 20+ feet deep. I would say roughly 1/3 would be considered shallows as far as summertime brookies are concerned. It is almost entirely fed by underground springs with just one small stream that amounts to a trickle, but does run year round. The pond is stocked yearly with 500 Fall finglerling temiscamie hybrids, and the pond itself harbors a fair amount of natural reproduction. The p.h. Is almost a perfect 7 and the water is crystal clear with a smooth grassy bottom. Growth seems to be great with the fingerlings showing up at about 8 inches the following spring and almost a foot after being in the pond a whole year. Here's the thing. We are having a heck of a time catching the holdover trout, even in the spring. The pond dosent really get fished that hard. I wish we could have the others that fish it keep a creel count, but we don't. All I know is this, I fished it the last day of the season last year and couldn't keep the 10-12 inchers off my fly, all released, barbless hooks. The next spring, catch the dinks but can't get the holdovers to bite. We got a few this year, they are averaging 16 inches but with no consistincy. No baitfish in the pond by the way. Complete brooktrout monoculture. If these fish are in the pond what could they possibly be feeding on?? The ones I've kept almost always had emty stomachs which is why I surmise the bit. However the smaller trout at times are jam packed full of aquatic bugs. Trust me when I say I know brook trout fishing, but I am just stumped. We used to stock a different strain that Tom Fields at Fernwood Hatchery used to have. He called them Canadian Reds. If we still had those I wouldn't be writing this. We routinely caught big brookies up to 4 pounds, and most averaged 15-16 inches. Any ideas out there?? Any credible biologists wanna come have a look at our pond with me? Seriously... I'm stumped, I'm afraid these trout aren't overwintering well or something.

Jason
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Old 09-03-2009, 12:12 AM   #2
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Not a credible biologist but would you take a semi-credible engineer?

I have a theory so I'll throw it out there. You may have an emigration problem which is the same problem faced by most public ponds DEC stocks. The sexually mature fish leave in the fall to spawn and can't get back in. You didn't mention an outlet but since you mentioned an inlet I'm going to assume its a drainage lake. Someone told me awhile back that the state only stocks Temiscamie hybrids in seepage (no outlet) lakes. I can't say if its true but supposedly the reason is that they are stream spawners. You might want to consider a lake spawner like the Horn Lake strain. If I were you, I'd build an outlet block very soon before it starts getting cool and raining. Next spring if you catch more large fish you'll know it worked. Of course the above could be a load of crap as I'm far from a credible biologist. Check out the Cornell Fisheries website for outlet block design and possible contacts for consulting (the real thing, not the cheap internet kind).
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Old 09-03-2009, 10:54 AM   #3
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I agree with Creekwader's theory - the mature fish are likely leaving the pond to spawn, and aren't coming back. Here's a PDF from Cornell on creating the blocks to keep the fish in during spawning season - http://pond.dnr.cornell.edu/trout/La...let_Blocks.pdf

For a good "survey" of the Brook Trout in the pond, I'd suggest trailing a worm behind a Lake Clear Wobbler. It always feels like cheating to me because it is so effective.
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Old 09-03-2009, 04:49 PM   #4
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An interesting problem. I agree with Creekwader's hypothesis that you could have a fall emigration problem. The way to check would be to go up there during spawning time and observe. Everything in the pond should either be in the outlet stream or near it. It's a great way to survey what's there. And to assess if anybody's leaving...

I've also seen sulky behavior from Assinica strain Brookies, which are similar. They won't eat for days and then they turn on and eat voraciously. Dynamite is an effective motivational tool in such circumstances. You might also try fishing Chironomids a foot off thebottom in the deep areas.

Alternatively, you could have a few of us helpful types come up and help you with intensive survey techniques using small, feathered creations suspended on the end of tapered strands of monofilament...
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Old 09-03-2009, 06:47 PM   #5
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I'm not a biologist (maybe a beerologist), but I think that you are stocking to many fish. 500 a year in 15 acres w/ limited harvesting and no bait fish equals stunted fish. There is a pond that I used to fish that was about that size and I never saw any sign of other fisherman, according to DEC it was stocked every year and was just chucked full of small fish. You would catch so many dinks that it bordered on madness. I would occasionally catch a 12-15 incher but very rare in alot of man hours. I eventually moved the canoe that I hidden there to another pond. Just my two cents, but I'd try skipping a year of stocking and see what happens?
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Old 09-04-2009, 09:15 AM   #6
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You might consider putting if a few decent sized male pickerel to predate the trout. Just a few, they couldn't reproduce and would keep the stunting in check.


Wait until Serotonin sees this one.

My sympathies.
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Old 09-04-2009, 09:37 AM   #7
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Wait until Serotonin sees this one.

My sympathies.
Um, in his absence allow me...

That is the single most irresponsible and ridiculous thing I've heard on this forum in awhile, maybe ever.
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Old 09-04-2009, 09:00 PM   #8
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You might consider putting if a few decent sized male pickerel to predate the trout. Just a few, they couldn't reproduce and would keep the stunting in check.
Peakbagr, I'll try to be more gentle than others might. Please find and read Nick Karas book, Brook Trout. You'll learn of some of the insanities that have occurred in the past and the resulting devastation that occurred. Originally, brook trout were the only fish species present in much of the Adirondacks. Through introduction of non-native species, they no longer exist in 95% of their original Adirondack range. We humans did it and that's a fact that we humans will have to consider and deal with. I don't think the situation is reversible, not given the state of technology nor all the money and resources we might bring to bear on the problem.

So now fast forward to the present. We stock ponds. We try to achieve monoculture brook trout fisheries on a small scale to replicate what was there when Europeans arrived, before we screwed it up. Against that backdrop, many of us are pained when we hear the idea of managing ponds by dumping in another species. Remember, Little Tupper Lake was a brook trout monoculture until some ignorant soul dumped a bucket full of bass into it only 7 or 8 years ago. It cannot be reclaimed. It is lost forever. Therein lies our sensitivity.
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Old 09-06-2009, 08:44 PM   #9
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Update

Well I have read the publication on brook trout emigration and have always considered this. The outlet however would seem exceptionally difficult for trout to leave the pond in. I would say over half the water seeps out through the ground and the entire portion that flows on the surface is one big log jam and has remnants of old dams. I'm just not sure there is enough water in any one given place that the trout would feel the need to force their way into that mess. We would like to stop stocking all together, wait a few years and somehow get a heritage strain, stock a few hundred fingerlings. Then practice catch and release for a few years, except for the trout we know aren't the heritage and see what happens. I'll try and get some photos of the pond up. By the way pickeral man, you're a dope got saying that.

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Old 09-06-2009, 10:03 PM   #10
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FYI: Here's a rather crude outlet block that I constructed this morning on a washed out beaver dam.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg outlet block.jpg (157.8 KB, 234 views)
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Old 09-18-2009, 02:09 PM   #11
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Jason,

I am not a biologist and don't have an answer to your problem, but have been following this thread with interest. I am aware of the emigration issue and the Cornell work, and not being a professional I am not in a position to challenge their findings. I would like to add to the conversation though by throwing this thought out there: If emigration is as big an issue as currently accepted by most, why do most of the early writings of the ADK brook trout fisheries (defined as before stocking was needed and trash species introduced) describe most of the fisheries as those with large inlets and outlets. W.C. Prime and later, Vincent Engels, wrote of great fishing and most of the lakes offered substantial ability for "escape". Was it that the larger systems allowed easier return to the lakes compared to the smaller watersheds where brookies take refuge today? It would be easy to give countless examples of large systems where trout could have moved freely prior to their elimination in same.

Let us know how things work out.
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Old 09-21-2009, 07:11 AM   #12
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Ice fishin locals?

Just another theory I'll throw out there, and it may sound like it's coming from left field. I've heard stories(from Aquatic Bioliigists, Rangers) about locals, who ice fish brook trout with worms during the winter, a time when brookies are susceptible to taking bait, and thse folks have kept more than their limit of fish, at a time when these fish are out of season.
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Old 09-21-2009, 10:39 AM   #13
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... and thse folks have kept more than their limit of fish, at a time when these fish are out of season.
Wouldn't the limit be 0 if the fish are caught out of season
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Old 09-21-2009, 11:55 AM   #14
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Jason,

I am not a biologist and don't have an answer to your problem, but have been following this thread with interest. I am aware of the emigration issue and the Cornell work, and not being a professional I am not in a position to challenge their findings. I would like to add to the conversation though by throwing this thought out there: If emigration is as big an issue as currently accepted by most, why do most of the early writings of the ADK brook trout fisheries (defined as before stocking was needed and trash species introduced) describe most of the fisheries as those with large inlets and outlets. W.C. Prime and later, Vincent Engels, wrote of great fishing and most of the lakes offered substantial ability for "escape". Was it that the larger systems allowed easier return to the lakes compared to the smaller watersheds where brookies take refuge today? It would be easy to give countless examples of large systems where trout could have moved freely prior to their elimination in same.

Let us know how things work out.
I've thought about this too, why were things allegedly so much better in the old days? Back then, I suspect there were several strains like the L. Tupper or Horn that evolved in a particular pond or watershed and adapted to spawning and thriving there. Once the proliferation of stocking started, the gene pool was corrupted and these traits were lost. I'm speculating a little here but I've read that springs that are fed primarily by surface water become acid and thus repulsive to spawning fish, sending them looking for other suitable areas to spawn. Lastly, in the old days beavers were nearly extinct. Now they're everwhere and as far as I can tell, a beaver dam on a pond outet is a one-way street only. There's usually a breach that can allow the fish to leave but they'd be hard pressed to get back in if they tried.
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Old 09-21-2009, 01:29 PM   #15
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Another thought: You say that the pond's pH is good. Is there any chance that you're getting a big springtime pH spike as a result of snowmelt and that it's harder on larger fish than smaller ones? I'm stretching here...
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Old 09-22-2009, 01:15 AM   #16
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In reguards to the PH spike... This is something I have thought of and have also done some reasearch on and could very likely be the culprit. One thing I do know due to my research is that where this pond is it is buffered extremely well geologically. There are high concentrations of carbonates in the bedrock in this area. So the PH of the underground springs should be excellent. However that PH spike could very well be the reason and is what I am leaning towards and I'll tell you why. Spring time is normally the time to catch big brook trout. On this pond if you fish right after ice out (usually first week of May), you'd think it was dead. It dosen't pick up until almost the middle of June. We just stocked the pond for the last time this past weekend, 500 fall fingerlings. We are on a parcel of the former Finch lands that are now owned by the nature conservacy and it will eventually be state land. Were just going to see if nature can do its thing through natural selection since there is some natural reproduction. I wonder how open the state would be to the idea of reclaiming the pond now since it will eventually be in their possesion and stocking a heritage strain that they feel would be suitable. Maybe one of the strains that are in danger like the Nate Pond or Dix. The pond would recieve very little fishing pressure by the club while they are taking hold and being that it is currently off limits to the public they would not have any political hurdles to jump through. Just a thought.....
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Old 10-02-2009, 11:00 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by jmh8098 View Post
In reguards to the PH spike... This is something I have thought of and have also done some reasearch on and could very likely be the culprit. One thing I do know due to my research is that where this pond is it is buffered extremely well geologically. There are high concentrations of carbonates in the bedrock in this area. So the PH of the underground springs should be excellent. However that PH spike could very well be the reason and is what I am leaning towards and I'll tell you why. Spring time is normally the time to catch big brook trout. On this pond if you fish right after ice out (usually first week of May), you'd think it was dead. It dosen't pick up until almost the middle of June. We just stocked the pond for the last time this past weekend, 500 fall fingerlings. We are on a parcel of the former Finch lands that are now owned by the nature conservacy and it will eventually be state land. Were just going to see if nature can do its thing through natural selection since there is some natural reproduction. I wonder how open the state would be to the idea of reclaiming the pond now since it will eventually be in their possesion and stocking a heritage strain that they feel would be suitable. Maybe one of the strains that are in danger like the Nate Pond or Dix. The pond would recieve very little fishing pressure by the club while they are taking hold and being that it is currently off limits to the public they would not have any political hurdles to jump through. Just a thought.....
Sounds like a good idea to me...
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