About Susquehanna Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Welcome to the Susquehanna Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Founded in 1964, we are one of Pennsylvania’s oldest chapters, and help protect many miles of central Pennsylvania’s finest streams. Some of our waters include Muncy Creek, Loyalsock Creek, Black Hole Creek and Lycoming Creek

PA Environment Digest Blog: Penn State: Few Hatchery Brook Trout Genes Present In PA Watershed Wild Fish

By: Jeff Mulhollem, Penn State News

Despite many decades of annual brook trout stocking in one northcentral Pennsylvania watershed, the wild brook trout populations show few genes from hatchery fish, according to researchers who genotyped about 2,000 brook trout in Loyalsock Creek watershed, a 500-square-mile drainage in Lycoming and Sullivan counties celebrated by anglers for its trout fishing.
This finding is important because, according to lead researcher Shannon White, a Penn State doctoral degree student in ecology, a debate continues in many states — including Pennsylvania — about the potential effects on wild trout populations, when hatchery-raised brook trout are stocked in streams where wild brook trout are present.
Supplementing wild populations with captive-raised fish increases angling opportunities and has occurred in Pennsylvania for more than a century, White pointed out. But uncertainty remains about the long-term effects of genetic introgression from hatchery-raised fish on wild populations.
In particular, she said, introgression between hatchery and wild individuals can cause declines in wild population fitness, resiliency and ability to adapt to changing habitat and climate that could contribute to local population loss.
“This was the first study that we are aware of that looked at genetic introgression on wild brook trout in an actively stocked watershed,” White said. “We were somewhat surprised to find more than nine out of 10 fish we evaluated had the wild trout genotype, because similar studies of wild salmon, rainbow trout and other salmonids have shown significant genetic introgression from stocked fish.”
Researchers quantified the extent of introgression in wild brook trout — meaning they possessed genes from stocked, hatchery trout — at 30 sites in the Loyalsock Creek watershed, and genetic assignment tests were used to determine the origin — wild versus captive-raised — for 1,742 wild-caught and 300 hatchery brook trout.
To determine if introgression was higher or lower in certain habitats — possibly indicating that habitat could predict the probability of introgression — researchers examined the correlation between introgression and 11 environmental variables.
In the end, there was very little statistical evidence to suggest that habitat characteristics affected the probability of introgression in the studied streams, noted Tyler Wagner, adjunct professor of fisheries ecology, whose research group in the College of Agricultural Sciences conducted the research.
“But this result was largely driven by the fact that we had such low rates of introgression to start with,” said Wagner, assistant unit leader of the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Penn State.
Even with frequent stocking at most sites, more than 93 percent of wild-caught individuals were judged to be of genetically wild origin, and slightly less than 6 percent of wild-caught brook trout were introgressed.
There are good reasons why hatchery-raised, stocked brook trout have mostly not introduced their genes into the wild brook trout gene pool in the Loyalsock Creek watershed, and likely not in most other watersheds across Pennsylvania, White pointed out.
“Why brook trout aren’t showing high rates of introgression is still uncertain; however, our guess at this point is that it stems from the high mortality of hatchery-raised fish,” she said. “Studies have shown that hatchery raised fish have low fitness and survival and most die within a few months of stocking due to angler harvest, predation or environmental factors. They are stocked in April and May and most of them are gone by July, so few make it to the October-November spawning season.”
Another factor limiting genetic introgression, White believes, is that small-stream ecosystems are difficult places for hatchery fish to survive.
“Compared to a larger river or lake, small streams are tough,” she said. “It is harder for trout to find food and avoid predators. One thunderstorm can completely change flow patterns. Given that stocked fish are not very good at living in the wild to begin with, when they are put into these really volatile systems there is higher mortality.”
The research, recently published in Evolutionary Applications, likely has management implications, White believes. But she stressed that the findings should not be misconstrued as a green light to stock brook trout over wild brook trout populations.
Just the opposite. White urges state agencies and private groups to make stocking decisions on a watershed basis, rather than a stream basis.
“In our research we saw evidence that hatchery trout — and their genes — traveled farther than we would have expected, into small tributaries far from stocking points,” she said. “That is one thing we found in this study that surprised us — the large spatial scale at which introgression occurs.”
Also involved in the research were William Miller, former Penn State doctoral student, and Stephanie Dowell and Meredith Bartron, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Northeast Fishery Center, in Lamar, Pennsylvania.
The R.K. Mellon Freshwater Research Initiative, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service supported this research.
Shannon White can be contacted by sending email to: slw361@psu.edu or by calling 804-387-3498.
To learn more about trout in Pennsylvania, visit the Fish and Boat Commission’s Trout webpage.

Senate Bill 1227 – Reduced Fishing License fees for out of state college students

In August,  group of Senators introduced Senate Bill 1227.  This bill seeks to reduce the cost of obtaining a fishing license for in-state college students.   Presently, students attending schools in Pennsylvania, but live out of state, are required to pay the $51.90 non resident annual fee for a fishing license.  This fee may prevent some from buying a fishing license due to being on a budget or other reasons associated with college.  The Senators noted that  “Out-of-state students who attend two and four-year institutions of higher education in Pennsylvania make significant social and economic impacts on their host communities. Therefore, we should be doing all we can to showcase our vast waterways and renowned fishing opportunities.”

Senators Blake, Bartolotta, Costa, and Argall introduced the bill that “will extend the resident annual fishing license fee of $22.90 to out-of-state students attending a Pennsylvania institution of higher education. Students must provide a valid student I.D. or proof of their temporary residency in Pennsylvania.”

The bill has been referred to the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee where it remains at this point.  The Susquehanna Chapter of Trout Unlimited feels this is a great piece of legislation that will allow students from across the state enjoy the great fishing that our State has to offer.

Please consider contacting your Senator and members of the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee and urge them to support this bill.

Senate Bill 1227

Senate Game and Fisheries Committee

Find your Senator

Proposed additions to wild and class a trout streams

The PFBC Commissioners will consider adding several streams to the states wild and class A trout streams. Follow the link below and be sure to show your support for both regulations posted to the website on 9/5/18 – “Proposed Changes to List of Class A Wild Trout Waters – October 2018” and “Classification of Wild Trout Streams – Proposed Additions, Revisions, and Revisions – October 2018”.


Fish With our Waterways Conservation Officer Family Fishing Day

The PA Fish and Boat Commission is offering a great opportunity for families.  You get to fish alongside Waterways Conservation Officers and fish at one of the Commissions hatcheries.  This is a great opportunity to meet the WCO’s who work to protect our resources and get to know them and find out about their jobs.  The announcement below was taken from the Fish Commission Facebook page.

“Come FISH with us! #PAFishandBoat is offering a “ Fish With our Waterways Conservation Officer Family Fishing Day” at our Bellefonte Hatchery Pond!

Join us on September 22, 2018 9am-1pm for a fun morning of fishing with our officers. A light lunch will be provided by Spring Creek Trout Unlimited Veteran Service Program.

No fishing license, fishing equipment or bait needed, #PFBC and our partners provide it all during the program!

✔️PRE-REGISTRATION is required due to limited space and food planning.

✔️REGISTER ONLINE TODAY! – https://www.register-ed.com/events/view/128963”