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.

Trout are Key to Endangered Mussel’s Survival

The eastern pearlshell  is endangered in Rhode Island.   Should the state do more to protect the native brook trout, and the endangered species of freshwater mussel?  Four years ago Pennsyslvania created a plan for the conservation and recovery of this species.

Targeted habitat restoration activities for trout also create habitat for this endangered mussel. The unique relationship between an endangered mussel and native brook trout may mutually help the recovery of both species while also expanding public fishing opportunities.

The pearlshell  is wholly dependent upon trout for its survival,  because trout act as temporary nurseries for larval (baby) mussels.  As part of their development process, the larvae (glochidia) of the eastern pearlshell must find a temporary home in which to develop into juveniles. they achieve this by using fish as hosts for the glochidia. Gravid (pregnant) female mussels expel thousands of glochidia into the water column and, as they move downstream, the larvae attach to the unsuspecting trout. The glochidia usually attach to the gills, where there is a lot of surface area. After temporarily parasitizing the fish, the hitchhiking glochidia quickly metamorphose (grow and change) into juvenile mussels, which drop off the fish and settle into the river or stream bed.

Pennsylvania’s official fishing and boating magazine  July/August 2013.  Read more here



Let the Wood River Heal Itself

By Brian O’connor

Hexegenia limbata/Giant Yellow Mayfly – Photo by Paul Pezza

I live in close proximity to the Pawcatuck and have been paddling on it for about 40 years. Initially, it was receiving a nightly dose of industrial waste from three facilities. Two are now closed and the third has waste water treatment which is doing a reasonable job of keeping pollutants out of the river. I used to dream of this river being clean enough to hold trout, and over the 40 year time span this has become a reality. In the late 80’s the state began to stock hatchery fish regularly. There is no evidence that there is enough sustenance in the river or survivability in the hatchery fish to enable these fish to hold over.  Brook Trout drop down from tribs to seasonally make use of the river.


Black Quill/Leptophlebia cupida – Photo by Paul Pezza

What has been most encouraging is the resurgence of insect life to be found. This process began slowly with the appearance of White flies, a summer hatch which at first was spotty at best. Next, mahogany duns also made weak spring time showings. I am now seeing blanket hatches of Mahoganies and White flies which occur along the entire 7 mile stretch I frequent. There are, most surprisingly, 5 species of stone flies now hatching. Each year I see a smattering of other Mayflies, some which I have never seen elsewhere. The flood of 2010 was the cause of the seeding of the stone flies. Every time I now float the P I’m expecting to see a new species. How, on the other hand, have the insect hatches been doing over time in the sediment choked upper Wood? Is there any habitat left in the streambed for them. I’m asking seriously as I don’t fish there. Has the Hex hatch been living up to expectations. For the first time this spring the P had a good hatch of Black Quills. This insect should now become an early season staple. I have seen a smattering of Hex’s each summer for years and hope to live long enough to see the sky over the river choked with them. Rivers are constantly changing through the process of dynamic equilibrium. Why anyone could doubt that the upper Wood doesn’t embody the capacity to repair itself if just left alone is a true mystery to me. With the removal of dams and intelligent management I believe that the Wood can return to the Brook Trout stronghold I remember well. This is our hope and the goal of PRIBT. Let the Wood re-wild itself.