No Meeting of the Minds

A MEETING OF MINDS: Protect Rhode Island Brook Trout began its fourth year by hosting an event dubbed “A Meeting of Minds on the Future of Wild Brook Trout in Rhode Island. This took place on March 1st at the East Farm campus of the University of Rhode island. Joining us by invitation were personnel from the RIDEM, representatives of the Rhode Island Natural History Survey, the GoodwinNiering Center for the Environment, the Sea-Run Brook Trout Coalition, the Wood/Pawcatuck Watershed Association, local Trout Unlimited chapters, and university students. A factual and well documented presentation was made Presentation1

articulating our position and in support of our request for an experimental wild brook trout management area on the upper Wood River. Questions and
commentary were then invited.

Of the five RIDEM representatives in attendance, it was the agency’s Associate Director who was its spokesman. In sum, he said that there will be no change in how the upper Wood Ri
ver is managed i.e. it will remain a heavily stocked, put and take, trout fishery. This, despite the documented degradation of the environment there, that attributable to the overuse engendered by the state’s approach to managing the resource. He dismissed the designation of this water, by both the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture and the state’s own Wildlife Action Plan, as offering the best opportunity for protecting wild brook trout. he was also dismissive of the ample evidence from the peer-reviewed, fisheries literature that supports our proposal. When asked where in that literature we might find anything supportive of current ageny practice, he deflected the question. His defense of the status quo consisted of the following assertions: “it’s complicated”; “many are opposed”; the department is resource-poor; “license sales would decline (if PRIBT’ss proposal were implemented); and we cannot make changes withoiut a science-based justification. All of this ignores: the department’s own angler opinion data and PRIBT’s 1100+ Facebook “likes” ; tht our proposal asks less of the department not more; that licence sales have declined dramaticlly despite heavy stocking of the upper Wood River; and that there is no science based justification for current managment practice on the river.presentation

The Associate Director introduced the idea that the state might consider a wild brook trout refuge elsewhere. We indicated that we can support all efforts to preserve what is left of our wild flora and fauna but remain committed to our Wood River focus. In response, the Associate Director sought to characterize PRIBT as demanding, inflexible, and unwilling to compromise and charged us with bias in our selection of presentation content and in the choice of who it was we invited to this event. The latter ignores the fact that the contingent of five from RIDEM rejects our proposal and that both of the local TU chapters are on record as opposed.

The Associate Director’s performance on Tuesday suggested that he had not familiarized himself with our proposal and that he had not given his attention to our presentation. Yes, Mr. Mouradjian, to say that “it’s complicated” is to describe the politics of trout fishing in Rhode Island. There was no “Meeting of the Minds” on March 1st.

Thanks Todd

Below please find the links to a series of three articles, about Protect RI Brook Trout, by Todd Corayer.

fish-wrap-artTodd writes about fishing and related subjects. His work has appeared On The Water Magazine, The Fisherman, The Island Crier and the RISAA Newsletter. He is a contributing writer at SO RI Magazine and writes a weekly column, Fish Wrap, for the Narragansett Times and 6 other papers.


The Fishermen Protecting Wild Brook Trout

A Second, Deeper Look at Brook Trout and Our Needs

Fisherman Often Act as Unrecognized Front-Line Scientists




Book Review - The Quest for the Golden Trout


Warren Winders of Sea-Run Brook Trout Coalition  reviews the book The Quest for the Golden Trout

“…if Doug Thompson were just another environmentalist crackpot from the far out fringe of the movement, I would dismiss his core contention that the “religion” of trout fishing is to blame for many of the environmental ills suffered by our rivers and streams – but Doug is far from being a crackpot, and by the time I finished his book I was wondering just who the real crackpots might be.”


Read the full review here

Fisherman Often Act as Unrecognized Front-Line Scientists

“Stocking non-native fish on top of native fish does nothing to restore native trout to a healthy environment; instead, it is a backwards and self-defeating activity.”

Chris Woods, President of Trout Unlimited

Mt Rose Washoe Co NV Bill BoutonRead a recent article in the Narragansett Times describing PRIBT effort to protect wild brook trout in the upper Wood River.

Check the PRIBT’s proposal here.


Brook Trout Under Pressure from Climate Change

Results from a 15-year study of factors affecting population levels of Eastern brook trout in the face of climate change show that high summer air temperatures have a large influence, in particular on the smallest fry and eggs, which are most important to wild trout abundance in streams. 

The authors spent years sampling four streams and tracking more than 15,000 individual fish, but now feel they can account for about 90 percent of the yearly variation in abundance of Eastern brook trout. High summer air temperatures are important in survival of small fry and eggs.

The authors spent years sampling four streams and tracking more than 15,000 individual fish, but now feel they can account for about 90 percent of the yearly variation in abundance of Eastern brook trout. High summer air temperatures are important in survival of small fry and eggs.

Co-author Ben Letcher, fisheries biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey and adjunct faculty in environmental conservation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, says, “It took years of sampling four streams and tracking more than 15,000 individual fish, but we feel we can account for about 90 percent of the yearly variation in abundance. The bottom line is that high summer temperatures are bad. That is unfortunate because summer air temperature is expected to increase with climate change and extreme rain is also expected to increase, especially in the spring when vulnerable eggs are hatching and fry are emerging.”

“Those two things are heading in the wrong direction for this particular species,” he adds. Letcher and his colleagues predict that if climate warming proceeds as projected and the trout don’t evolve, in as soon as 15 years these sentinel fish of cold water streams could be gone from the study stream. “If they can evolve, they may at least double their ability to stay in the stream,” he notes. 

Read full article here

University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “Brook trout study identifies top climate change pressure factor: Scientists track more than 15,000 brook trout.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 November 2015.



Stocking Brown Trout is Harmful to Brook Trout


Article in Fly Fishing & Fly Tying Magazine

“Studies have shown that putting stocked brown trout into a river in late winter or spring results in the trout fry that have just hatched and … that will hatch being gobbled up.”


Return of the Native Brook Trout



This article details the effort to restore native brook trout to one of the streams in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

People have long managed waterways for certain species. Even the original introduction of the non-native brown and rainbow trout was a kind of management: before the Park existed, people released the fish into Smokies’ streams so anglers would have more fish to catch. They didn’t realize that the introduced fish would outcompete—take over habitat and food sources from—the native brook trout. Fewer native fish survived to breed, and those that did existed in increasingly isolated populations in marginal habitats, often at high elevations where pH was declining most rapidly.

…fisheries biologists waded through miles of deep pools and hidden pockets to find brook trout and other native fish such as the blacknose dace that they wanted to save in Lynn Camp Prong and its tributaries. They electroshocked the native fish—stunned them with a low amplitude current—and gathered them all in holding tanks, which they then transported to a “foster” stream in the same watershed that had been treated four years earlier for this purpose. There the brook trout would wait through the winter until they could be released once again to Lynn Camp Prong.

The stream was then treated  with Antimycin “the treatments were a new way for the Smokies to remove unwanted species—in this case, rainbow trout—from the water and restore the habitat for the once-abundant native brook trout.” 

 Read more here…


Four years later this Update On Lynn Camp Prong Brook Trout Restoration details some of the frustrations including

a few exceptionally large rainbow trout were found in Lynn Camp Prong. Unfortunately these fish had the rubbed off fins typically found on hatchery fish. There was some reliable information that someone had taken some fish in coolers filled with water up the stream on horseback. Unfortunately those fish had spawned successfully and young rainbows were back in the stream among the recently reintroduced native brookies.





Eastern Brook Trout: Roadmap to Restoration

Our Brook Trout Heritage

The brook trout is an American symbol of persistence,
adaptability, and the pristine wilderness that covered
North America prior to European settlement. It is the
only native trout that inhabits the cold, clear streams of the
eastern United States. It is the state fish in many eastern states and
is a prized sport fish by anglers. It is truly a heritage fish species.
Unfortunately, historical land uses have taken a toll on our
landscape, greatly diminishing the presence of brook trout
throughout its native range. Today it is estimated that less than
9% of the areas that historically supported brook trout are intact.
Most brook trout are relegated to headwater streams, where forest
cover is still prevalent. Unable to thrive in poor quality water or
degraded habitats, brook trout are excellent indicators of clean
water and healthy aquatic systems. Their disappearance within
a watershed indicates environmental decline. The documented
decline of brook trout throughout their eastern range should
serve as a warning about the state of our nation’s waters.
The situation is certainly not hopeless. Through a coordinated
and focused effort, we have a unique opportunity to reverse the
trend of brook trout decline by restoring habitat and improving
water quality, to benefit both brook trout and human habitat
for generations to come.

Challenges in the North Region:

  • Sediment and high water temperature caused by land use changes
  • Fragmented populations from dams and culverts
  • Exotic species such as smallmouth bass and non-native trout

Read the full report here

Let's Remove Hatchery Fish From the Wood River


Margaritafera Margaritafera The Eastern Pearlshell Mussel State Endangered Species. This circumpolar species is found only in the cleanest headwaters of the Wood Pawcatuck watershed. This mussel is endangered by increased sedimentation which affects the recruitment of it young.



At one life stage it must attach itself to the gills of brook trout which host these creatures over time with no ill effects to the fish. Everything is connected. They are filter feeders and indirectly increase the biomass of aquatic insects. Since the inception of Put and Take management , the upper Wood River has been suffering from an increased sediment load caused by elevated levels of angler traffic. To many fish luring to many fishermen to to small a stream. Aggradation, the deposition of to great a sediment load, has diminished the biomass of this river to the point that it is becoming fit only to house the hatchery fish which have in fact been the cause. We can reverse this trend!!!! We, in promoting brook trout conservation, are advocating for the re-wilding of the Wood River and the entire biotic community found there. Hatchery fish were intended to fill the gap when wild fish were unable to survive in the degraded conditions which existed 150 years ago. As conditions improved the wild fish returned. It is past time to remove the hatchery fish from the equation.

A River Returns to Life

Thompson's pool, Pawcatuck river. Photo by Brian O'connor.

Thompson’s pool, Pawcatuck river. Photo by Brian O’connor.

By Brian O’connor

I paddled up the Pawcatuck last evening to see what I could see. I instantly spied the small sulpher mayflies I had seen for the first time earlier in the week.
Outnumbering the sulphers was a strong hatch of White Flies, clouds of mating caddis, and fog like masses of midges. A veritable insect smorgasboard. Recently stocked trout were rising but I decided to paddle on upstream to see how far up they had moved and if I could find any fish left over from the earlier spring stocking. I found risers for the first mile and then turned downstream to try my luck. While a bit cool, at least there were no mosquitos. I caught a few rainbows and a large Brown on a size 10 white emerger before angry beaver tail slapped me away. Back to the truck by 8 PM. I have done a good bit of destination angling but nothing beats one’s home river. Watching this river return to life has been one of the most thrilling experiences of my adult life.