RELATIVE ABUNDANCE & GCN

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Vintage photos of wild trout taken from RI waters in a time when brookies were relatively abundant. The largest of the fish pictured is 15″ long. What does it mean when a DEM official describes the contemporary situation as one of “relative abundance” regarding wild brook trout? Implied is a benchmark or standard for comparison; and what is that? This post will provide a benchmark for making this judgment based on extensive record keeping by this writer over several decades. These data pertain to three different watersheds in Rhode Island. In one, it was not unusual to catch (& release) 30-60 trout in a visit. Occasionally, more. In another piece of water, three successive evening trips yielded an average of 32 per session. The third generally produced a more modest average of 12 per visit. Today, in the first location a good day is 3-4 trout; in the second it is 1-2; and in the last it is 0-2. Once abundant, wild brook trout in are now relatively scarce. This is why the US Fish & Wildlife Service will assign Greatest Conservation Need status for RI brook trout for 2015. It appears that we are near, if not at, the “tipping point” for this species here. See to it that RIDEM gets the message and gets on board with a brook trout management plan for RI waters. Please contact Christine Dudley, Deputy Chief/Freshwater Fisheries (christine.dudley@dem.ri.gov) and Janet Coit, RIDEM Director (janet.coit@dem.ri.gov) with your support !!!

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