Bucks County Herald

Trout are thriving in Aquetong Creek

JOE MIHOK

Recent surveys by members of the Bucks County Chapter of Trout Unlimited confirm that the 50 wild brook trout introduced into Aquetong Creek by the chapter in April, 2017 have taken hold and established a reproducing population in the creek.

The surveys, in June and July of this year, found both fingerling and adult brook trout. Jeff Neamand, who, along with Kevin Randall, led the effort in 2017 to capture and transport the trout to Aquetong Creek, said, “The fact that we found fingerling brook trout is proof positive that the trout we transported last year successfully spawned in the fall of 2017. There is only one other stream in Bucks County with a naturally reproducing brook trout population, it is very gratifying to be part of the effort to establish a second population, especially so when you realize how drastically the range of Pennsylvania’s brook trout has shrunk.”

According to data from the Pennsylvania State Council of Trout Unlimited, of 1,313 watersheds in the state that are known to be part of the brook trout’s historic range, they are extirpated (locally extinct) in 407 watersheds and are greatly reduced in 507 watersheds.)

Aquetong Creek is part of the brook trout’s historic range in Pennsylvania, however, the complete deforestation of the watershed and construction of numerous mill dams in the 18th and 19th centuries resulted in warming water and heavy siltation. These conditions destroyed the habitat vital to support brook trout within the watershed.

Bucks County Trout Unlimited began its advocacy for the removal of the Aquetong Lake dam and restoration of brook trout to Aquetong Creek in 1996 and continued this effort until 2013 when the Solebury Township supervisors voted to remove the dam.

The removal of the Aquetong Lake dam by Solebury Township in 2015 allowed the cold water of the Aquetong Spring to once again flow downstream without being warmed by the former Aquetong Lake, resulting in near perfect stream temperatures for brook trout.

“In some ways it is remarkable that the trout are doing so well,” said Kevin Randall, “the water temperature of Aquetong Spring (~52°F) is of course perfect for brook trout, but considering that no stream restoration has taken place and yet the trout are thriving makes me very hopeful for their future prospects. Solebury Township’s plan to remove lakebed sediment from along the riparian corridor will dramatically improve stream habitat, especially clean gravel areas needed for spawning.

Once this happens we should have near ideal conditions for brook trout:cold water, clean gravel and plenty of aquatic insects for them to feed on.”

Bucks County Trout Unlimited will continue monitoring the Aquetong Creek brook trout population.

Joe Mihok is president of Bucks County Trout Unlimited.




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