Trout stream management in Massachusetts, JW Mullan

Content: Mg. Trintinotuuralth
Publication of this Document approved by Alfred C. Holland, State Purchasing Agent.
Form FG-137. 10m-11-60-931810
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PREFACE To many anglers, trout fishing means stream fishing. While such anglers generally recognize the fact that bigger trout are available in ponds, and that the ponds have a better potential for producing trout fishing in this state, the lure of the streams ever calls them back. To these anglers, pond trout fishing with its implied waiting is no substitute for the charms of stream fishing. The expectation that lies just around the next bend, the feel and roar of white water, the skunk cabbage emerging from its winter sleep are but a few of the many ever-changing attractions encountered in the pursuit of trout in ocean-bent waters. Providing trout fishing of a satisfactory nature in such situations is not the simple put-and-take proposition that many think it is, however. The first law relative to perpetuating trout fishing in streams was passed in 1849. The first hatchery trout were planted a few years after this. Since that time, much has been learned and many ideas have changed relative to the how, why, and when of trout stream management. Admittedly, a great deal remains to be learned. By the same token, the store of existing knowledge and the demands of a complex, expanding industrial society require vast additional change and understanding soon if our sons and daughters are to know the charm and mystery of running waters and tight lines. All too frequently, the proclamations of the angler "who has fished all his lifetime" is accepted as gospel in accomplishing the latter. Information necessary for producing satisfactory trout fishing in streams is not brewed by the alchemistry found around the proverbial "cracker barrel," nor in a plush swivel chair unfortunately. Instead, such information is ground out by painstaking application of the scientific approach. It is impossible to estimate exactly the amount of such field work--both in Massachusetts and elsewhere--that is represented by this bulletin. To hazard a guess, however, it at least would be the equivalent of the time amassed by several hundred anglers fishing 40 hours a week for six months every year of their lives between the ages of 10 and 65.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This bulletin reports the research of hundreds of scientists of many nationalities. Their names have not been mentioned because they would be of little interest except to the professional for whom the bulletin is not primarily intended. For the same reason a bibliography of the many papers consulted has been omitted. However, the professional biologist will quickly discern that the writings and findings of some have been more freely drawn on than others. They include Dr. Edwin L. Cooper, Dr. Paul R. Needham, Dr. Karl F. Lagler, the late Dr. Richard B. Miller, the late Dr. R. W. Eschmeyer, Dr. Allen K. Radway, and James B. Trefethen. A special debt of gratitude and apology is owed these men and all the many others who contributed. The writer assumes full responsibility for any misrepresentation of their data as applied. Acknowledgment is due the Sport Fishing Institute for use of many of their cartoons, with modification. The manuscript was greatly improved by criticisms offered by Mr. William A. Tompkins, Chief Aquatic Biologist. Personnel of the Information and Education Section performed the final editing, provided many of the photographs used, and supervised the publication of this bulletin. To a significant extent this bulletin is based upon the findings of DingellJohnson projects F-1-R and F-14-R. To Mrs. Dorothy Dreyer my thanks for efforts above and beyond the call of duty in typing and retyping the manuscript and securing reference material. The writer also wishes to extend his sincere appreciation to all other Division of Fisheries and Game personnel, Conservation Officers, and sportsmen who contributed greatly towards making this bulletin a reality. 11
WHAT TROUT REQUIRE ................................................................ 3
Most Critical Factors
Temperature ................................................................................... 3 Oxygen .......................................................................................... 3 Competition ................................................................................... 5 Pollution ........................................................................................ 5 Flooding ........................................................................................ 6
Other Factors
Spawning areas .............................................................................. 6
Acid-alkaline range
Food supply ................................................................................... 7
Predation ........................................................................................
Dams ............................................................................................... 9
STREAMS AND WATERSHEDS .................................................. 10 What Makes for Trout Streams? .................................................... 10 How Do Our Streams Stack Up? .................................................. 13
FISH AND FISHING .......................................................................... 18 Today's Fish--What Our Streams Support .................................... 18 Today's Fishing--When and What the Angler Catches ................. 19 Yesteryear's Fish and Fishing ......................................................... 22 Pilgrim bread-and-butter abundance ........................................... 22 Illusionary pork-barrel image ....................................................... 23 A glimpse of pre-Revolutionary angling .................................... 24 The changing panorama of our heritage ...................................... 26 The dilemma of what has happened to trout fishing ................ 28 The influence of shade ................................................................ 29 Many streams never did support trout ...................................... 31 Faulty arithmetic and the old-time anglers ............................... 31 The brown trout--a red herring in disguise ............................. 31 The trouble with misty memories ................................................ 32 111
PAGE Causes of fluctuations in water supplies ................................... 32 Flooding--its effect and significance ........................................... 34 Altered ground water yield to streams ...................................... 39 The twilight zone of the land, water, and trout equation ......... 39 Trout fishing isn't what it used to be and it never was ............ 40 WHY HATCHERY TROUT ARE NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR WILD TROUT ............................................................................ 41 Economic Limitations .......................................................................... 41 Natural Limitations ............................................................................ 41 Where do dead trout go? ........................................................... 41 Why they die ................................................................................. 42 WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE--ACTION PROGRAMS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ............................................... 47 Stocking ............................................................................................... 47 Size of trout to stock ..................................................................... 47 Time of stocking ............................................................................ 48 Number of trout to stock .............................................................. 51 Effects of stocking on native trout ............................................... 53 Species emphasis .......................................................................... 54 Quality goals ................................................................................. 54 How to stock ................................................................................. 56 Informing the customer ................................................................ 59 Access--A Place to Fish .................................................................. 60 Regulations .......................................................................................... 62 Open seasons ................................................................................. 62 Bag limit ........................................................................................ 64 Minimum legal length .................................................................. 65 Closed breeder streams ................................................................ 66 Closing waters after stocking ....................................................... 67 Flyfishing only areas ..................................................................... 68 Special trout license ..................................................................... 68 Other regulations .......................................................................... 70 Habitat Improvement--Giving Nature a Hand ............................ 70 Stream improvement structures .................................................. 70 Water storage reservoirs and ponds ........................................... 71 iv
Streambank plantings Oases of cool water for survival Artificial enrichment On planting aquatic vegetation Pollution Abatement Reclamation -- Tipping the Equilibrium in Favor of Trout The Deerfield River project Angling before reclamation Angling following reclamation Costs and advantages Fingerling versus catchables Ultimate goals
PAGE 74 75 76 76 77 81 83 84 85 86 88 92
THE PROBLEM -- THE UNLEASHED DRAGON The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Game annually stocks upward of one million catchable size trout. The bulk of these trout are planted in streams. This has commonly become known as "put-and-take" trout fishing. Such a program represents an attempt to perpetuate trout fishing in streams that can no longer produce enough trout naturally, or in many cases, streams that are not now and never have been capable of supporting trout. This artificial trout fishing has merits as well as drawbacks. On the positive side, the program provides many hours of healthful, participant recreation to thousands. As one facet of the total angling effort, it is important in the local and national economy. Likewise, it is of value in dispersing angler overcrowding, especially early in the season. It is doubtful whether already overcrowded access facilities at ponded waters could sustain the added burden of the angling hordes that are now spread over many miles of streams. Not to be overlooked as well, it provides use of a resource--streams and their surroundings--that would be little enjoyed otherwise. On the debit side, the existence of such a program, whether it be in Massachusetts or California, has fostered the growth of various evils. Those most often mentioned include poor sportsmanship, "truck following," catching groggy fish just out of the truck, unfair and poor distribu- Understanding of the basic limitations of a "put-and-take" trout fishing program in streams requires knowledge of what trout require, what we have for streams, and why.
tion of the fish, and poor angling quality. More importantly, it lulls many into believing that such stocking represents conservation. It doesn't, but it does undermine worthwhile conservation measures by diverting money and emphasis. The fact that, by and large, the object of the sport must be raised artificially, stocked in other people's streams, and be readily available to all of the public virtually assures conflicts of interest. Although the program is no stranger to the public, few understand it. A host of continuing demands for more and bigger fish, different stocking times and procedures, closed stocking areas, and other measures put forward to rectify or circumvent failings of the present program, mirrors widespread ignorance of basic limitations. On the other end of the pendulum, there are always those who dismiss lightly the forces responsible for the program's present scope and strong support, and suggest eliminating or drastically curtailing production of hatchery trout. Who and what is right regarding the present catchable trout program? Is the Division stocking too many trout or too few ? Are current stocking practices the best available? What about wild trout ? Fishing magazines depict streams from other parts of the country that appear to teem with unlimited supplies of self-grown trout. Why isn't the same true here? Wasn't this the case in the Bay State when the first puritan stepped ashore from the Mayflower ? Anyone doubting the sincerity and frequency of this logic should ponder the proposal by one fish and game club to send someone to Alaska to learn why the Bay State couldn't have comparable trout and salmon fishing. No extended trip to a fishing paradise is needed to answer these questions. Instead, the answers can be found by a consideration of what is known about trout, what we have for streams today, and what is known of the documented history of this State's climate, land, and water since the advent of the white man on these shores. 2
WHAT TROUT REQUIRE Trout are not distinguished creatures, except possibly in the minds of some anglers, in nature's array of plant and animal forms. Like man himself, they can only exist within a relatively narrow range of temperature and oxygen values, while requiring food, shelter, and other necessities for existence and perpetuation of the species. Only brown, brook, and rainbow trout are considered because these are the only species commonly raised for put-and-take fishing. They are considered together, with pertinent minor variations being indicated as applicable. For practical purposes basic requirements of these trout may be considered to be similar. Most Critical Factors Temperature: Flourishing trout populations are not found in streams exhibiting temperatures in excess of 70 degrees for any extended period. They may, however, survive exposure to temperatures as high as 87 degrees for short periods. Extensive observations in New Hampshire, Maine, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as in Massachusetts, have shown this to be true. Of particular significance, the presence and abundance of trout in Massachusetts streams is closely associated with water temperatures of 70 degrees or less. Admittedly, meager quantities of trout, especially brown trout, can be found in some streams characterized by mid-day summer temperatures in the high eighties. Evidently a high percentage of such fish do eventually succumb to the unfavorable habitat as attested to in the lack of significant carryover from such streams. In well-aerated ponds where all other fishes have been removed, trout may live at levels somewhat over the 70 degree limit for extended periods. The same is also true of streams that have been reclaimed. While many examples illustrating the survival of trout under adverse conditions could be cited, they also would be illustrative of the need for cold water. Trout are essentially cold water fish. They became adapted over countless centuries to life in cold water, as their ancestors were originally inhabitants of arctic seas. It is common knowledge at hatcheries that water temperatures over 70 degrees result in big losses of trout after only a few days. Optimum growth and survival require temperatures from approximately 55 to 65 degrees. These observations apply equally in the field. Oxygen: Oxygen requirements of trout vary just as do temperature requirements. Within a certain temperature range, they are mutually related. Cold water is capable of holding more oxygen than warm water. Conversely, the oxygen requirements of trout increase as water temperatures rise. Physiologists have shown that trout have difficulty extracting oxygen efficiently from water with temperatures much over 70 degrees, regardless of how much oxygen is present. However, high oxygen values in mountainous, unpolluted streams definitely mitigate the threat of excessive temperatures to some degree. Trout, therefore, are typically residents of well-aerated water. Research findings demonstrate clearly that vigorous populations of trout require at 3
Trout are not distinguished creatures in nature's array of plant and animal forms. Like man himself, they can only exist within a narrow range of temperature and oxygen values, while requiring food, shelter, and other necessities for existence and perpetuation of the species. With but few exceptions trout require clean water. Pollutants occur as industrial-chemical wastes, organic sewage wastes, and solid particles resulting from erosion of the land. It is not generally recognized that what happens to the land largely determines the quality and quantity of water found in streams.
The angler has vented his
anger for supposed and
actual declines in angling
quality on the apparent
villains on the scene.
least five parts per million (5 ppm) by weight of free oxygen present in solution. Occasionally, extreme conditions have been successfully withstood. These indicate nothing but the trout's ability to withstand a period of stress during which it barely maintains itself. Competition: All the races of man are subject to competition or its effects from the "womb to the tomb." People, however, find it difficult to comprehend that the principles of competition manifest themselves in the world of fishes. Competition for food is the best known and is the most critical, but competition for space, spawning areas, and other requirements may also exist. A water area is limited in the pounds of fish it can support. A unit of land is correspondingly limited in the bushels of potatoes or other produce it can grow. A water-acre capable of supporting 50 pounds of fish can have the 50 pounds represented by 50 fish, 5,000 fish, or some number in between. Almost all species of fish compete with trout for the available food supply of a pond. Species such as yellow perch, white perch, bluegills, etc., compete directly by eating the same kinds of bottom-dwelling foods, mainly the larvae of insects. These larvae may spend several months or one or more years living in and on the bottom. Air-borne existences as flying insects are of only a few hours' to a few days' duration. Vast quantities of these organisms inhabit stream bottoms. In some instances, there may be several hundred pounds per acre. Bottom organisms (including insect larvae, small species of fresh water clams, shrimp-like crustaceans or "scuds," crayfish, and worms) feed directly or indirectly upon organic material. Various forms of microscopic plant and animal life associated with the mud and floating free in the water as plankton serve as their food. Several pounds of the latter are required to produce one pound of large bottom organisms. Several pounds (5 to 10) of bottom foods are needed to produce one pound of fish. Predator fishes, such as bass and pickerel, feeding exclusively on other fishes, need similar quantities of small fishes to grow. Forage fishes, in turn, feed on plankton (microscopic plant and animal life) that constitute the food of the bottom organisms that are the main fare of trout. Competition between trout and warmwater fish generally increases in direct proportion to the amount of warm-water habitat present in any stream. Generally, the closer a stream approaches a one hundred percent warmwater condition, the greater the fertility. Fertility produces the myriad of plant and animal life, including fish, that competes so rigorously at all levels in the water community for food. Therefore, the concept of controlling or eliminating competition is fundamental to trout management in a warmwater state like Massachusetts. Pollution: Pollution assumes many and diverse forms. A water pollutant may be any artificially introduced material that is ordinarily foreign to the pristine condition of the waters involved. Practically speaking, pollutants important to fish most often occur as industrial-chemical wastes, organic sewage wastes, and solid particles resulting from erosion of the land. Pollutants may be directly toxic to fishes and produce catastrophic fish kills. Certain chemicals used in insect control and acids used in electro- 5
plating industries belong to this group. Or, they may have an indirect effect by decreasing the amount of oxygen in the water, thereby resulting in an oxygen deficiency for fish. Barnyard drainage and other organic sewagetype materials fall in this group. In turbulent, oxygen-saturated, low-fertility streams, however, such as are found in the Berkshire Hills, small dosages of such pollutants may actually be beneficial by acting as fertilizers. In such instances, oxygen utilized by the pollutant is almost instantly replenished. Obviously, discharge levels of such pollutants must not exceed the stream's purifying potential or desirable fish-carrying capacity will be depressed. The effects of the third type of pollutant--solid particles--act more indirectly than the other two groups. Nonetheless, the end result is no less certain. Solid particles of silt, sand, clay, and mud washed into streams from erosion on the land insidiously smothers spawn, spawning sites, cover, pools, and bottom fauna on which trout are dependent for food. And with the stream channel filled with such particles, flood waters are directed towards the banks, thereby destroying surrounding shade trees and widening the stream bed. The result is a raising of water temperatures by more fully exposing the stream to the influence of the summer sun. Flooding: Like most forms of life, trout do best in a stable environment. Flooding invariably results in extremes of living conditions. This is so regardless of the fact that many trout streams have periodically flooded from time immemorial. Besides the more immediate havoc exerted on newly-stocked hatchery trout, which are least suited to cope with strong currents, flooding has a cumulative depressive effect on the ability of a stream to support trout. These effects include channel widening, ensuing water warming, silting, and destruction of bottom fauna by abrasion. Other Factors Spawning areas: Spawning sites are located on gravel areas of streams where there are either riffles or upward pressure of spring seepage which contributed to a relatively loose pack of such materials. Preferred size of gravel aggregate ranges from 1% to 3 inches in diameter. In some instances, there is limited indirect evidence that trout may be less demanding in selection of spawning sites. Eggs are deposited in the excavations made in the base material. The female trout covers the eggs with the same pebbles, rock fragments, and gravel pushed aside in building the nest or redd as it is called. It is essential that moving water be allowed to percolate through the redd and gently aerate the eggs to assure development and hatching. Acid-alkaline range: Surveys do not reveal any markedly acid or alkaline waters, except those which are polluted. There is a tendency toward acidity (with pH falling between 6.0 and 7.0) in many of our brownlytinted waters. Such a pH range does not constitute a limiting factor to trout survival. However, there is inconclusive evidence that acid waters, or other unknown factors associated with acid water, inhibit or eliminate the successful natural reproduction of rainbow trout. 6
The snapping turtle is looked upon as the predatory monster of the water world. Water plants and salvaged wastes have been found to constitute the bulk of its diet.
Predation on trout by snakes, turtles. birds, and other creatures is of small consequence, except in a few specific situations. To a very large extent this loss is more than balanced by keeping streams clean.
Food supply: Almost all streams have been found to possess a supply of natural food organisms appropriate for the subsistence of all sizes of trout. These are principally microscopic plankton forms that float free in the water and aquatic insect larvae that live on or in the stream bottom. Abundance of food supply is limited by the low range of fertility characteristic of the soils of this region. It is further depressed by frequent floods and heavy siltation which results in a low production of stream bottom organisms under even the very best of conditions. Predation: Without exception, the angler has vented his anger for supposed and actual declines in angling quality on predators. The snapping turtle is looked upon as the predatory monster of the water world. A Michigan study gives him more of a janitorial milk-toast complexion. Plants and salvaged wastes were found to constitute the bulk of its diet. Desirable fish ingested amounted to but a small percent of its total fare. The non-poisonous black watersnake is found throughout the state. It is a watersnake only to the extent that water is the site of much of its feeding activity and provides a ready means of escape. Despised and frantically killed at every opportunity, unique avenues of retreat are called for. Most workers agree that it is primarily a fish eater. In the most damaging evidence to its habits, it was found that only seven out of 106 such snakes collected from trout streams had dined on trout. The case for fish-eating birds varies with species and locality. The great blue heron subsists mainly on suckers and frogs, although it may take a trout if the opportunity presents itself. Examination of 255 stomachs of the smaller green heron collected throughout the country revealed that only about six percent of their food consisted of fish, mostly sunfishes and pickerel. Results of extensive studies of the black-crowned night heron and the American bittern's dietary habits parallel that of the other birds dis- 7
cussed. In general, all of these birds do not prefer trout stream habitat but favor the more open, shallow edges of lakes and slow-moving streams, which serve to lessen our concern over the possible damage they may cause. In common, they all represent menaces to trout stocks at hatcheries and must he controlled in such situations. All are protected by federal law, however, and none may be destroyed without special permission. The American, hooded, and red-breasted mergansers eat fish almost entirely. In non-trout water, these fish-eating ducks subsist mainly on fishes of little value to the angler. But in trout waters the picture changes. Here, studies show that almost 90 percent of the food consists of trout. Even with the presence of other fish, trout were apparently selected for their larger size. Fortunately, it is only occasionally that mergansers are forced into inland trout streams. A similar vindication can be made out for the common kingfisher. They are only present in the summer, and most streams containing native trout populations are so brush-covered as to make it difficult for the kingfisher to fish. The otter is viewed with the utmost alarm by trout fanciers. In hatcheries the basis for this fear is well-founded. In most natural waters it is groundless. Fish are fish to the otter. Dietary preference does not result in his singling out the trout. Instead, he eats what he comes by the easiest. As a result he may feed on a dead hawk, duck, or rabbit one day, frogs and insects the next day, and possibly a trout or a sucker, which he may or may not have found dead, the third day, and so on. The far-ranging habits of the otter result in distributing this predation very lightly over a large area. A few instances are known for Massachusetts' waters of stocked catchable size trout being eaten by chain pickerel Although pickerel are abundant in many streams, they are generally of small size. Suckers are erroneously condemned for preying on trout eggs. While many food studies have revealed the presence of such eggs in sucker stomachs, invariably it has been found that the eggs consumed represented dead eggs washed from the redds. These are but some of the animals believed to represent a threat to trout. Others could be cited, ranging from the lowly frog to the lordly bear, but the pattern for their infamy is the same. What is important is to realize that all of these species evolved together over centuries. If predation were a serious factor, one or more of these creatures would have disappeared long ago either by destruction or by elimination of the food supply. Secondly, it should be realized that in special situations almost any animal may pose the threat of predation. As an example, witness the common blackbird in the vicinity of a fry pool at a hatchery. Such instances should not be used to condemn the species as a whole. Wilderness waters are frequently cited as offering the best in trout fishing. Predation is least controlled in such areas. Conversely, fishing quality is purported to be the poorest in civilized areas where predation is most controlled. In summary the overall damage that such predation may inflict on fishing quality appears to be small and is, to some extent, balanced by helping keep streams clean and pleasant. In any situation the intrinsic value of these other wildlife forms must also be recognized. It has yet to be dem- 8
onstrated ·that predatory control, except in special circumstances, significantly improves sport fishing. Predator control, as discussed, should not be confused with eliminating or controlling competition between fishes so as to favor increased produotion of desired species. The benefits to the angler of the latter has been demonstrated many times. Dams: The widespread erection of dams, especially during the industrial revolution of the last century, and before, for water power, does not necessarily constitute a limiting factor to trout reproduction by blocking upstream migration to presumed choice spawning locations. Contrary to some opinion, trout can and do carry out all the functions of life, including reproduction, within relatively limited areas of a stream, allowing that such an area meets the requirements mentioned. Several studies concur that such a territory most generally approximates less than 200 feet of stream. There is no argument, though, that such dams have profound effects on trout habitat. By ponding water they may result in increasing water temperatures and serve as infectious sources of trash fish that are competitors of trout. On the other hand, the ensuing reservoirs are alleged to have served as winter sanctuaries for trout, helped stabilize stream flows, and improved summer water temperatures in downstream reaches. The widespread erection of dams for water power that accompanied settlement of Massachusetts had profound effects on trout habitat. However, their full impact was different than commonly envisioned in blocking migration of spawning trout. Contrary to some opinions, trout need not migrate upstream to spawn but can and do carry out all the functions of life in stream areas not over 200 feet long.
STREAMS AND WATERSHEDS What Makes for Trout Streams? The Streams ! Makers of the valleys, their sound is enchantment to angler and non-angler alike. They rise from the sea as clouds and descend over land as rain. They are borne upon the soil as rivulets, percolations, and springs which unite to form brooks and these in turn rivers that ever return oceanward to complete nature's water cycle. The amount of precipitation, how and when it falls, the terrain over which it falls, ground cover, and the soil it falls on determine the character of streams. Once down from the skies, precipitation both flows into stream channels and sinks into the ground. Types and conditions of soil and cover largely govern the amount of surface infiltration. Ultimate storage capacity and future destination depend on the underlying geological formations and vegetative cover. In the mid-latitudes, it is the amount of precipitation that sinks into the ground that largely determines the suitability of a region's streams for trout. Water originating from underground sources are normally neither too hot, nor too cold, and are more stabilized year-round. Unhappily for trout, streams dependent on surface runoff alternately "freeze and boil," flood and dry up. Vegetative cover is commonly overrated as a blotter in absorbing water during periods of abundance and discharging it during dry spells. Of far more significance in the water cycle is the diminutive raindrop and its effects. The falling drops gouge and splatter the soil like many little bombs. They shatter clods and granules into smaller particles, lifting them into the air and splashing them back and forth. The churning action of the drop beats the dispersed material into a pasty mass. In the violent shifting of particles, the finer ones are fitted and pounded between coarser particles by repeated blasting. Pores and channels through which the water otherwise would travel are soon plugged. Soil clinging to foliage or to the foundations of buildings after any hard rain illustrates but some of this tremendous force. Scientists have calculated that the fall of two inches of rain in one hour has sufficient force to lift seven inches of topsoil to a height of three feet 86 times. Over an acre this exceeds the work that could be done by a large bulldozer in an equivalent period ! Different soils naturally vary in their porosity and proneness to puddling. Sand can be likened to a sieve. Its particles, though small, are coarse, irregular, loose, and their displacement does not result in puddling. Clay, on the other hand, is readily puddled to a cementlike consistency due to the close-knit character of its fine, smooth particles. Also of importance in considering permeability is the steepness of the slope and the condition of the soil. The greater the slope the less time rainfall has to infiltrate the ground before gravity pulls it downhill. The amount of infiltration from a oneinch rainfall lasting an hour will be less than the same amount of precipita- 10
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Nature's water cycle. In the mid-latitudes, it is the amount of precipitation that sinks into the ground that largely determines the suitability of a region's streams for trout. tion deposited over a 24-hour period. Why this is so can be likened to a small funnel that is inadequate and overflows when a gallon of liquid is dumped into it, but which can accommodate the same volume when the flow is regulated to its capacity over a period of time. It is in influencing the condition of the soil that vegetation plays its role. Of key importance, vegetation breaks the fall of raindrops so that they strike the soil with less force. Some rainfall intercepted by leaves, twigs, and branches runs down plant stems, reaching the soil surface without disturbance and over a longer period. In this way, precipitation is regulated to the capacity of the surface soil to absorb it. A soil covering of old leaves, twigs, bark, and animal remains serves the same function. Such litter is important for other reasons as well. Freezing reduces the permeability of soil. Litter serves as a mulch in delaying and reducing the depth of freezing. Such a mulch also reduces evaporation of water and serves to eliminate extremes in temperature of the underlying water as well as the soil. It also adds to the organic content of the soil, giving it looseness or tilth and greater ability to bold water. 11
Without vegetation to cushion the fall of rain, the falling drops gouge and splatter the soil like many little bombs. Pores and channels through which the water would otherwise infiltrate the ground are plugged and the water runs oft overland. Vegetation types likewise vary in their ability to influence soil conditions. Dense stands of coniferous trees, such as pine and spruce, intercept precipitation and buffer soils more effectively than hardwoods. Infiltration is greater in dense than in open forests ; greater in old than in young forests; greater in ungrazed than in pastured woods; greater in lightly than in heavily cut stands of timber ; and lowest in overgrazed pastures and in cultivated fields. The total weight of litter deposited annually on the forest floor varies from over 100 to less than one ton per acre in heavily-tomoderately-stocked stands of trees. While other variations could be cited, the fact not to be overlooked is that vegetative types and soils are mutually related. To a surprising degree, unless otherwise disturbed, soil types determine the kinds of vegetation that will grow on it. We are all familiar with one or more plant species that will grow in one soil and not another. What we often overlook is that vegetative types alter soil conditions by the influences described, which in turn are factors regulating future vegetative types. Along these same lines forest cover modifies atmospheric conditions under it. Air temperatures are reduced in the summer and increased in the winter. Humidity is increased throughout the year. These influences reduce temperature extremes of runoff waters and influence future vegetation. Storage and destination of water that infiltrates the soil surface has been mentioned as being dependent on the underlying geological formation and vegetative cover. If the soil is permeable to a great depth, part of the water may eventually reach the sea by underground channels. A surprisingly large amount is diverted by vegetation. An acre of mature oak trees absorb 2,000 to 2,600 gallons daily. As a result, transpiration of plants, which is analogous to the perspiration of humans, returns a stupendous amount of water vapor to the atmosphere. 12
If the underground has pockets of permeable soil walled off by nonporous material, an underground reservoir results. Such water may reappear on the surface as springs if escape vaults or aqueducts in the earth's crust are present. There also may be a water-saturated layer of soil of no fixed depth below the surface.. Its surface is referred to as a "water table." The top level rises or falls according to the, wetness or dryness of the season. In theory it functions as a subterranean blanket of water, while in practice is found to be greatly broken up. Regions underlaid with soft porous rock formations such as lime and sandstone provide the best underground water reservoirs or aquifers. Pockets, clefts, and crevices for storage are cohimon. The presence of seams and faults assure maximum liberation of water at surface levels. Sand deposits also have an excellent ground water potential. Gravel deposits are less valuable, but are still good. Impervious rock formations are the least valuable, offering but few apertures for penetration and storage. How Do Our Streams Stack Up? Massachusetts is one of the better-watered states in the Union. In an average year it is blanketed with just under four feet of water. Fortunately, this precipitation is rather uniformly distributed throughout the year, either as rain or snow ; otherwise floods and drought would be more extreme. The terrain over which it falls grades from hilly to mountainous (1,500 to 3,500 feet above sea level) in the west, to an undulating lowland along the seacoast in the east (200 to 500 foot hilltop elevations). The central portion of the state is characterized by an upland plateau of rolling hills (600 to 2,000 feet elevation). The central uplands is sandwiched off from the hilly-mountainous area in the west, known as the Berkshire hills, by the Connecticut River Valley running north to south. Water runoff due to slope alone is therefore greatest in the Berkshires, least in the lowlands of the Connecticut Valley and coast, and somewhat intermediate in the central uplands. A coarse, unstratified boulder-sand mixture most commonly passes as soil at higher elevations. Clay "hardpan" or mixtures of the two may suffice in some locations. While the former is fairly porous and absorptive and the latter is not, all are shallowly deposited and underlaid with impervious rock. This impervious underlay is so close to the surface that it frequently appears as rock outcroppings. Numerous rocks and boulders in and upon the soil covering further serve to reduce surface infiltration and increase runoff. 'Localized areas of better quality tillable soils do occur, but they are the exception rather than the rule. These same features generally prevail in the central uplands, but may be less pronounced. While surface soils are still gravelly, they are less shallow, favor sand instead of rock, and have more and larger pockets of the better grade topsoils. Similar blendings and pure pockets of types, generally underlain by hard rock at varying depths, generally extend east and southeast to the coast from the central uplands, except for the Cape 13
Cod region. Here, the earth covering consists primarily of permeable sand deposits of great depth, and there are no surface rocks as in the rest of the state. The Connecticut River Valley, the other lowland region mentioned, exhibits a surface covering of loamy, sandy soils of varying depths underlaid by soft, porous shale and sandstone formations. Reasons for this varied landscape center on the glaciers of bygone eras and the action of the elements since. Most of us are aware that the world has not always been as we know it today. In the beginning, it was a molten rock mass. Over millions of years, it cooled. Twisting, folding, and buckling of the surface crust in cooling formed mountain ranges and depressions. Over thousands of additional years the depressions filled with water and became oceans. The mountain ranges, when worn down by the elements, gradually emerged over eons of time as the natural landscape we know today. Glaciers both hastened and altered such landscaping. A million years ago, the climate of the world became cooler. Winter snowfalls, in northern latitudes, failed to melt in summer. Permanent snow fields resulted that grew in size and thickness until they became compacted, thus forming an ice cap up to a mile thick. Under its own weight the ice flowed southward burying New England. Its erosive power in gorging and quarrying soils, boulders, and bedrock in its path and moving such material over long distances was tremendous. The ice advanced and retreated several times, alternating with spasmodic warmth and cold, before the climate returned to normal. The glaciers gradually melted and the accumulated debris came to rest. Known as glacial till, it varied from house-sized boulders to fine, flour-sized particles. Streams resulting from the melting of the ice cap also served to sort and transport this till, redepositing it in forms of gravel, sand, silt, and clay. Cape Cod owes its origin to this sorting process. The weight of the ice depressed the underlying land. When the ice melted, the land did not revert to its former elevation immediately. Temporarily, marine waters overlaid the southeast portion of the state. The streams formed by the melting ice to the north spread out a ribbonous plain of graded till in the shallow sea to the south and east. The lighter silt and clay were borne farthest seaward and deposited in deeper waters. Possibly, deposition of these lighter materials in inward areas was hindered by swift ocean current. In any event, the denser sands accumulated, forming the so-called outer Cape, followed by ever coarser gravel and varying mixtures of the two working northwestward from the vicinity of the Cape Cod Canal. Repeated advance and retreat of the ice modified results by succeeding erosion, bulldozing, and deposition. Blocks of ice persisted here and there, insulated by till, which eventually wasted away and formed the basins for many present day ponds. Wind and tide also subsequently carved their toll. Inland, the long-active processes of weathering in the eons preceding the glaciers had formed a thick, extensive blanket of soil and soft, rotten rock. The south and southeasterly advancing glaciers had little difficulty in destroying the structure of this high-grade soil, and soil in the making from rock disintegration, which had been so long in the building. Being relatively soft and yielding, vast amounts of these materials were readily 14
Precipitation that fails to sink into the ground and flows overland generally results in accelerated soil erosion and fills stream channels with silt. scraped up, mixed, buried, and spewed with stupendous quantities of low grade till from areas to the north. The more resistant bedrock ribbing of the mountains prevented their annihilation. Nevertheless, they did not go unscathed. Huge blocks of rock were plucked from many exposed ridges. In addition, the peaks were rounded and smoothed by scraping of the debris-laden ice. Resistant high points, not surprisingly, were scraped cleaner and offered fewer opportunities for subsequent disposition than areas of little or moderate elevation. This is one of the reasons why the surface soils of the Berkshire Hills are so thin. Yet another is that the glaciers not only melted from front (south) to back (north) but concurrently from top to bottom. Therefore, in the concluding stages of the glacial period the mountain summits were uncovered first, resulting in the ice-melt washing much of what little soil remained to lower elevations. These same influences help explain why the Connecticut River Valley differs from the other areas discussed. To a large extent it was originally filled with glacial till only to be re-excavated by the tremendous rivers released by the melting of the glaciers. As was mentioned with regard to the origin of Cape Cod, the overall effects and mechanics of glaciation were a lot more detailed and intricate than implied, resulting in many localized exceptions. Likewise, much of the evidence and effects have since been modified and altered. Subsequent geological disturbances such as earthquakes, natural soil-building involving weathering, animals and plants, and water erosion have all played a role. What is important is the fact that the soils and topography of Massachusetts were drastically altered by glaciation. Essentially the original surface soils that had evolved through millions of years were lost, altered, and replaced by extremely poor quality soil from the north. In no way has this been compensated for by any combination of factors in the relatively short geological span since. Except in the Connecticut River Valley, Cape Cod, and a few other localized instances, 15
most of these changes did not favor either infiltration or underground storage of the ample precipitation that occurs. Except for these areas most streams are largely fed by surface runoff as mirrored in their temperature and flow records. With few exceptions water temperatures on the larger main streams follow atmospheric conditions closely, often rising in the summer months to the mid-eighties or higher. On the smaller tributary streams, where flows are well-shaded in comparison, summer temperatures are not as excessive. Even here, however, temperatures tend to border on the lethal. Obviously the supply of cool 40 to 55 degree ground water entering such streams is minimal. Extreme maximum and minimum flows are even more illustrative of the dependence on surface runoff. Greatest flow occurs in March, coincident with spring rains, frozen ground, and the melting of accumulated winter snow and ice. Minimum flows occur in August through September. Differences equal several hundred if not thousands percent. In other words, most of the winter and early spring precipitation runs off the land like water off the proverbial duck's back and is wasted. Summer flows are not regulated by the redischarge of this "wasted" water from deep within the earth's surface, but instead are at the mercy of whimsical rains. Frequent replenishment is vital if such streams are not to "go dry" even after a few days. Unfortunately, while annual precipitation is fairly well distributed throughout the months of the year, this still allows for almost regular drought of six-to-eight-week periods. The fast, white water streams, flowing over rubble, boulders, and bedrock, such as those of the Berkshires and the central uplands, are decidedly droughty. The sluggish, slow-flowing, or impounded streams characterizing the coastal lowlands and parts of the uplands are less so. Insofar as trout living conditions are concerned, the droughty condition of the hill streams is partly offset by the higher oxygen content found in rapidly flowing water and lower nightly temperatures associated with elevation.
Unhappily for trout. Massachusetts streams are largely dependent upon surface runoff waters and alternately "freeze and boil," flood and dry up.
Dependence on surface runoff for flows in most Massachusetts streams can be traced in part to glaciation of the area. The original surface soils that had evolved through millions of years were lost, altered and replaced by an extremely shallow soil mantle lacking in water insoak and storage capacity.
In many areas the insoak capacity of the land was reduced to almost zero where resistant high points of impervious rock were scraped clean by glaciation.
Cape Cod owes its origin to glaciation. Here, outwash from the melting glaciers created a ribbonous bar of sandy soils that favor ground insoak and subsequent underground storage of water for discharge to streams.
Superficial features of the streams found in the Connecticut River Valley and Cape Cod pretty much parallel those of the lowland type. However, since flows of these streams are augmented to a significant extent by ground water supplies, particularly in the drier seasons, flow volumes are greater than for a comparable size coastal lowland stream. And, for the same reason, these streams are the least droughty and have the most beneficial water temperatures for trout statewide. The Connecticut River Valley streams flood quite severely, but mainly because their headwaters lie in the adjacent Berkshires or uplands. These are the same reasons why the Connecticut River itself floods. No such problem exists with the limited streams of the outer Cape. Undoubtedly, the reader may know of such and such a stream, or for that matter, many streams, that do not hew to the picture advanced. This is one of the dangers in generalizing on so broad and complex a subject. However, one should be cautioned against confusing the soundness of overall natural principles and the cause and effect resulting from man's influences. For example, the Swift River, below the Quabbin Reservoir, never floods, exhibits year-round temperatures between 45 and 55 degrees, is a large main stream, and is located in the central uplands. This apparent contradiction to the stream types listed stems from the daily release of water from the bottom of this large man-made reservoir upstream. There are other silted-in streams in the Connecticut River Valley that are too warm for trout. Again, man's influence in developing the land for agricultural purposes is responsible. In subsequent sections man-made influences will be discussed and meshed with the preceding. Thus far, it is important only to grasp that Massachusetts streams in general provide only borderline trout habitat at best. Originally, this was less so, due to subsequent changes and influences resulting from the settlement of the land. The fact remains, however, that as a result of geologic and climatic factors Massachusetts streams have very little margin of summer coolness and flow to spare if trout are to flourish. 17
FISH AND FISHING Today's Fish -- What Our Streams Support The ability of most of today's streams to grow and support trout is poor. This dismal statement stems not from crystal-ball gazing, but instead is the result of exhaustive study of the fish found in streams statewide. In 1952, the Westfield River drainage, typical of the Berkshire area, was examined. The Millers and Squannacook drainages, characteristic of the central uplands, were similarly treated in 1953, followed in 1954 by the northeastern coastal systems of the Merrimack and Ipswich Rivers and the Taunton and North Rivers in 1955. The sea-run or "salter" brook trout streams of outer Cape Cod were studied between 1949 and 1956. In addition, various miscellaneous coastal streams and the Swift River below Quabbin Reservoir were surveyed in 1956. Nets, chemicals, and the electric shocker were used in obtaining representative fish samples from approximately 300 different streams of all types. Fish samples collected represented from less than one to more than fifty percent of individual stream populations. It was stated earlier that fish obtain most of their food from the stream bottom. Small fish depend largely on plankton for their early foods, gradually changing over to a diet composed chiefly of insect larvae. Plankton may supplement the diet throughout life. Diets of some large fish, such as bass, trout, pickerel, or even dace, may include small fishes. These in turn feed either on plankton, bottom organisms, or both. Consequently, the amount of this food supply governs the poundage of fish any stream area can support. In addition, trout abundance and distribution is regulated by the presence or absence of cool water temperatures. If the water is too warm the trout's place at this dinner table is taken by less demanding fishes. Likewise, should some of the fish in the aquatic community die, their share of nature's victuals is quickly and efficiently converted into fish flesh by those that remain. This is why the weight of fish populations remain relatively constant even under situations where some are caught by anglers. The fish-supporting capacity of small headwater brooks averages only between 25 and 65 pounds per surface acre. This is the equivalent of all the fish that can be carried in from one to three normal size blueberry pails from a stream one mile long averaging eight feet in width. Low as this fish-supporting ability is, anglers cannot count on it as all money in the bank. Trout make up only 7 to 51 percent or 3 to 15 pounds of this "fish pie." The trout slice generally consists of native brooks, browns or both. Native rainbow trout populations have been found to be entirely absent. The remaining fishes generally consist of suckers and small minnow species. In general, headwaiter brooks trend toward higher standing crops of all fish working from the Berkshires to the coast, whereas the trout component decreases. The larger rivers contain fish populations with few, if any, trout, a preponderance of trash species, and varying quantities of small size pan and' 18
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The fish-supporting capacity of small headwater brooks averages between 25 and 65 pounds per acre. Wild brook and brown trout maloe up from 7 to 51 percent of the "fish pie." The remaining fishes generally consist of suckers and small minnow species. game fish. The array of trash fishes includes suckers, carp, fallfish, eel, redfin pickerel, etc.; panfish species include bullheads, sunfish, perch, etc. ; whereas game fishes, other than trout, include chain pickerel, smallmouth and largemouth bass. Streams varying in size between headwater brooks and the larger main rivers display mixtures of the two types of populations. Brown trout are usually more abundant than brook trout and are of much larger size than in headwater streams. Nevertheless, there is generally a steady decrease in the ability of streams to support fish life, especially trout, from headwater brooks to the mouths of main streams. Therefore, while headwater brooks can only be ranked as low in their potential to support fish life, the larger streams are even more impoverishly depressed in the production of all fish life, but particularly trout. -- Today's Fishing When and What the Angler Catches What the angler catches as compared to what is found in our streams amounts to the difference between day and night. To keep alive the ancient art of trout angling and to meet continually increasing demands for more and bigger trout, fish culturists knock themselves out annually to supply the bulk of the fish that are caught. Eighty to 96 percent of the trout caught on main stream areas have been found to consist of hatchery trout stocked a day to a few weeks before. Findings of the numerous studies made show that the hatchery trout component of the harvest actually amounts to 90-95 percent, or better, of the anglers' catch! The contribution of hatchery trout to the catch on headwater brooks is generally 75 percent or less. Many of the smaller brooks supply fair-to-excellent wild trout fishing for a few anglers. What about the hordes of native fishes other than trout that inhabit our streams? Can't they supply recreational angling? Whether they can or 19
not is problematical at this time. The point of the matter is that they don't except in a few localized situations and to only a few anglers. Smallmouth bass distribution and abundance is limited to main stream areas of the drainages west of the Connecticut River. The ten-inch minimum legal length essentially excludes them from angler consideration now. Only 35 smallmouth bass ten inches or better were found in a total of 1,342 examined from the Westfield River. Utilization of stream pickerel populations is plagued by the same problem. The minimum size limit is 14 inches, with no differentiation made between the redfin and chain, even though the redfin pickerel rarely exceeds 14 inches. Of 3,412 redfin pickerel collected in the Taunton River drainage, none were legal size and the majority were under ten inches in length. Chain pickerel show a greater size range but still only 56 of 1,253 examined from this same drainage exceeded 14 inches in length. Cross-breeding · between redfin and chain pickerel is fairly common. The resulting individuals are intermediate in size between parent species ; only occasionally does one reach legal size. Largemouth bass fingerlings are not uncommon in most stream systems, but catchable size individuals are decidedly rare except in localized impoundments or in the few large non-trout streams such as the Charles, Concord, and Quaboag Rivers. Bullheads, yellow perch, crappie, and sunfish are common but rarely attain any degree of abundance that would warrant angling except in sluggish, warmwater streams such as those mentioned. In addition, sunfish are held in disrepute by the majority of anglers. Eels are only taken incidental to other fishing effort. Disinterest in suckers is virtually complete. As the saying goes "that's how the cookie crumbles" and the angler has his put-and-take trout fishing in any case. But, is this really true, especially in the light of perennial widespread complaints relative to poor trout angling quality allegedly stemming from the fact that the Division of Fisheries and Game actually did not stock the number and size of trout claimed? Possibly if you are one of the minority of anglers who catches a disproportionate share of the trout stocked the answer is yes. If, on the other hand, you are not the answer is no. To answer the question in full, we must delve a little into the philosophy of fishing and managing fisheries resources for the public. Fishing today is valuable mainly for sport or recreation and not food. As such, it provides relaxation from the trials and tribulations of the swift psychological pace of our modern world. All fish and game departments are charged with the responsibility of making the maximum sustained use of available resources, including license revenues, so as to produce the best fishing possible for the greatest number of people over the longest period of time. Unfortunately, while most anglers give lip service to fishing as a sport, even the most "sporting" of anglers still take home the proof of their prowess, apparently due to prevailing prestige values. Likewise, fish and game departments fall far short of their sound goals in providing put-andtake trout fishing due to built-in shortcomings of any such program. Approximately 70 percent of the people who buy fishing licenses in this state fish for trout. Generally, less than 45 percent of those that attempt 20
this feat are successful. At the other end of the scale, we find that about 25 percent of the anglers come home with their creels well filled with some 75 percent of the planted trout. Actually a select 10 percent of this group accounts for one-half of all the trout stocked in any year. It follows, therefore, that a minority of anglers reap the benefits designated for the majority. In other words, the bulk of the would-be trout slayers are enticed to foot the bill by the sweet song of numbers of large trout planted. Non-trout anglers interested only in warmwater fishes are likewise forced to contribute. In all fairness to such a program, however, it should be pointed out that the same applies to most other things that surround our daily lives. It has often been stated that if all the money in the world was evenly divided among its inhabitants one day, that the morrow would find the same wealth distribution pattern of rich and poor that prevails today. The reasons for this naturally are complex, simple, and obvious to all--some people are luckier, others work harder, some are smarter than others. But underlying this theme is the fact that there are not enough resources in the world to allow everyone to be a millionaire. And the same is true in trout fishing, deer hunting, or stamp collecting. The end result is that those that care the most and work the hardest gather in the fruits of the chase, and those that are indifferent or passive go home empty-handed. What constitutes the best possible fishing is more relevant. Even so, by all available standards the quality of fishing produced with hatchery trout in streams in Massachusetts is poor. Fishing quality is expressed by the number of fish caught per hour. Nationally, an average catch of one fish per hour of angling effort is considered satisfactory or average. Not too surprisingly catch rates on headwater brooks and intermediate size streams are higher than on main stream areas. This is accounted for in part by the increased contribution of wild trout and the fact that while such waters are generally stocked with somewhat comparable poundages of trout on a unit-area basis, the smaller streams receive more but smaller size fish. Still, only a few of the smaller streams have been found to yield a return of one trout per hour, and these were the previously mentioned salter or sea-run trout streams of outer Cape Cod. On the average it requires 1% to 1% hours to catch a trout from such streams. To creel a trout from main streams requires three to five hours of effort. Although some of the catch rates reported from other sections of the country fall short of the national average of one fish per hour, the catch rates on Massachusetts' larger streams are ridiculously low even compared to these least values. Put-and-take-trout likewise fail to measure up to the goal of providing recreation over the longest possible period if we consider that the season runs for six months but that angling and harvest is virtually complete 6 to 8 weeks after the season opens. Newsweek magazine a couple of years back made light of the fact that 90 percent of the fishermen counted on streams on opening day were never seen or heard of again until the following opening day. The irony of this is that most angling does occur on opening day and on subsequent weekends and holidays in late April 21
Streams varying in size between headwater brooks and the larger main rivers display varying mixtures of trout and other fishes. Trash fish are usually more abundant than trout. or early May. Thereafter angling pressure dwindles rapidly except for the occasional die-hard. It follows, therefore, that today's fish and fishing, and even the forces generating the latter, differ from what they once were. Many of the fish species present today are new arrivals on the scene. Smallmouth and largemouth bass, yellow bullhead, bluegill, brown and rainbow trout and many others were originally native only to other sections of the country and introduced here by man. Trout were home-grown in streams instead of mass-produced in hatcheries. In all probability, for a minority of anglers possessing the necessary "know-how," there are far more trout available today than in the "good old days," despite manyfold increases in the number of anglers. Yesteryear's Fish and Fishing Pilgrim bread-and-butter abundance: What about the "good old days?" Well, it's a long story, and in many places, no story at all. Starting with our Puritan forefathers, we find little factual information on sport fishing. If Jonathan wished to include trout in the menu, he evidently did a businesslike job, limiting his occasional foray to the schooled denizens of some large and conveniently located pool. If he made sport of this chore, he was reluctant in admitting it, and for good reason. Only simpletons and wastrels were credited with making fishing a frivolous pursuit. That such sport angling occurred we can hardly doubt. History tells us that there were many "malcontents", in the hotbed of religious squabbling and persecution known as the Massachusetts Colony of Sixteen Hundred. Apparently not one angler existed among these "ne'er do wells" who might have written the epic of our primeval streams. Accounts of the fish taken, eaten, and sold are legion by contrast. Plymouth Colony schools were supported by seining and netting profits. Fish 22
made up a large share of the diet of both settler and Indian. But these fish were not trout ! Instead, the great bulk consisted of eels, shad, and herring that migrated into fresh water from the ocean, and strictly marine species such as the cod and mackerel. Sea-run salmon along the Merrimack and Connecticut Rivers were also of importance, but nowhere near that of the above-mentioned species. Popular nostalgia today confuses the bread-and-butter fish of yesterday with trout. Fishing in Puritan times, then, was largely a practical matter of food and commerce. Emphasis was only on those fish that were abundant enough to give a return for the effort and expense involved in their capture. From this it can be deduced that trout, due to a lack of abundance, did not vie commercially with the bread-and-butter fishes. While backyard gardens are not sufficient in sustaining the population, no one lightly diminishes the tremendous quantity of such produce grown. Perhaps trout abundance was masked and over-shadowed by the ease in which the teeming "bread-and-butter" fishes were harvested during their annual runs, whereas the trout supply, like the home garden, merely served to supplement the regular fare? Undoubtedly this was true, but early silence on the subject, followed by much about little, tends to confirm that trout were not overly available. Illusionary pork barrel image: It was the streams of Cape Cod that fired the imagination of Nineteenth Century writers. An 1833 authority described trout as most abundant statewide in Dukes County, which includes Martha's Vineyard, where he incidently pointed out that they were held in low esteem "because of the great abundance and much preferred eels." Streams draining the south shore of Barnstable County, such as the Childs, Quashnet, and Mashpee were glowingly described. The Mashpee River was extolled as the greatest angling resort in New England for salter brook trout. Indeed, such streams were undoubtedly the best in the state. The larger rivers contain fish populations with few, if any. trout, a preponderance of trash species, and varying quantities of small size pan and game fish.
Eighty to 96 percent of the trout caught on main stream areas have been found to consist of hatchery trout stocked a day to a few weeks before. This is less so on headwater brooks that may supply fair-to-excellent wild trout fishing for a few anglers.
Approximately 70 percent of the people who buy fishing licenses in this state fish for trout. Less than 45 percent of those that attempt this feat are successfuL At the other end of the scale 25 percent of the trout anglers catch 75 percent of the trout planted. Actually, a select 10 percent of this group accounts for one-half of the trout stocked In any year.
Fifty-eight trout weighing 30 pounds and 296 trout weighing 191 pounds harvested in five days by two men constituted red-letter catches to be recorded for posterity. Another naturalist stated that trout were most common in the town of Sandwich and that not less than 100 pounds were marketed annually. While total harvests were never stated, the catches held up as citing trout abundance are far from phenomenal. Similarly dated accounts for Maine, a known northeastern area of long-established trout abundance, describe huge quantities taken by nets and spears. "Barrelsful," weighing hundreds of pounds, were shipped to city markets or salted for home use. In short, where trout or any .other fish species were abundant, they were exploited, and this invariably found its way into the annals of the period and region. The pattern was no different here but the evidence would not seem to indicate any great numbers of trout. Even though these same Cape streams currently fail to fit the "pork barrel" image of the past, yesteryear's catches are within the realm of present possibilities. As an example, 6,000 trout were estimated to have been taken annually from five of these salter streams in the years 195456. While 80 percent were hatchery trout, the rest were wild trout of about the same average size reported when Abraham Lincoln was a young man. Divided among a few anglers, 1,200 trout could account for the inferred maximum harvests of yesteryear. A glimpse of pre-Revolutionary angling: One of the more illu- minating glimpses of the past can be gleaned from John Rowe, substantial 24
merchant and citizen of his time, who kept a diary from 1764 to 1779 about the days when he "went afishing." Business took him throughout the state and he let no opportunity for fishing escape. Rowe recorded some 90 days fishing while accompanied by one or two companions. Sixty-nine excursions were spent on ponds. Allowing for some literary license, he and his friends caught 6,000 perch, 49 pickerel, a few eels, and one trout on these trips. The absence of trout in ponds was due to the general lack of inlet and outlet streams for spawning brookies, the only native trout. The remaining 21 trips were spent fishing streams. Three related to the Charles River in the vicinity of Needham, which even in pre-Revolutionary times was noted for only warmwater fish, such as perch and pickerel, just as it is today. The last 18 trips, all made in the spring, accounted for some 253 trout. While this may appear like exceptional trout fishing, it isn't. If we average the take of both Rowe and his companions, only about five trout reposed in each creel at day's end. Of course, these are averages. Even in Colonial times, there were days when no fish were taken. One-fourth of the pond trips drew blanks, or only a few fish, while only four resulted in red-letter days as noted by the participants. Likewise, two of the trout stream trips produced no fish, while only one was acknowledged as exceptional. In all probability, for a minority of anglers possessing the necessary "know how," there are far more trout available today than in the "good old days," despite manyfold increases in the num. ber of anglers.
The first explorers of Massachusetts found a forest wilderness. The trees, for the most part, were huge, with trunks four to sbc feet in diameter.
The delicate balance between the original forest complex and streams began to be upset almost from the time the first settler stepped ashore from the Mayflower. The use of fire in clearing the land played a dominant role in upsetting this balance.
While specific sizes are only stated for exceptional catches, this and other implications strongly suggest that most catches were made up of the same six to ten inch run-of-the-mill size brookies found in suitable streams today. The capture of one 14-inch "red trout" from a brook in Hopkinton drew high praise. Rowe's best catch involved 10 "salter" trout from Town Brook, Plymouth, near its confluence with the ocean on May 24, 1770. In his own words, "the largest I ever saw--several of them eighteen inches in length." Dams and pollution largely destroyed this stream for trout over a hundred years ago. The past three and one-half centuries have been keynoted by such changes. The changing panorama of our heritage: The first explorers found a forest wilderness. On Cape Cod, pitch pine and oak predominated. A mixed forest of oak, hickory, white pine, chestnut, and many other species stretched inland. In the Connecticut Valley, groves of white pine blanketed the sandy soil. Elm, red maple, and willows thronged the riverbanks. Flanking the valley, yellow birch, sugar maple, and hemlock occupied much of the Berkshires and extended eastward into Worcester County. The trees, for the most part, were huge, with trunks four to six feet in diameter. 26
The landing of the Pilgrims changed all this. The first sawmill was erected at Plymouth in 1623. By 1629, six shipyards had been established near Boston, and a lively export trade in lumber, masts, and ships developed. Oak clapboard and barrel staves were shipped to England on the return of the Mayflower. Two other ships carried similar cargo from Plymouth in 1621. The drain on local forests from the expanding export trade and from the developing domestic economy was enormous. Homes, ships, and furniture were built of wood. Wood was the only fuel. Wooden pins were used instead of nails. Even plows and harrows were made of wood. In spite of dependence upon the forest, the colonist regarded it as a menace. Indians might swoop with torch and tomahawk from its shelter. The wolf prowling its fringes more often than not meant one less pig or sheep. So the settler set about remaking the country in the image of the grainfields and cattle-filled pastures of his native England. Those trees not used in the economy were cut, windrowed, and burned! As early as 1699, Northampton passed an ordinance ordering "no oaks shall be cut--less than nine inches in diameter." Hadley enacted a similar law in 1713. When one considers that many families were burning 80 sledgeloads of wood annually, the concern reflected in the shortage of fuel is obvious. Cleared, the land seldom reverted to woodland. If not taken over for settlement, the area was burned repeatedly to encourage pasture. By 1750, the land was virtually one vast farm. Massachusetts, during the next 100 years, was a thriving agricultural region. About 65 percent of the total land was subject to the plow and much of the remainder grazed. Only remnant scraps of forestland persisted in the Berkshires and Cape because they were too wet ,steep, or otherwise unfit for farming. The speed with which the land was cleared is traceable to the use of fire. A Hadley chronicler described "some splendid burnings in the woods on the hills and mountains around this valley." The people of Hadley not only burnt over their lands, but extended their fires to the hills of Belchertown and Pelham. Brookfield burnt over the lands in Ware--Northampton and Hatfield spread their fires westerly over the hills of Westhampton, Williamsburg, and so on. These burnings continued in many places to 1750 and later. The legislature prohibited promiscuous burning in 1743 because the practise "greatly impoverishes the soil, prevents the growth of wood, and destroys much fence." This law could not have been rigorously enforced. The discovery of gold in California in 1849 marked the beginning of the abandonment of eastern farmland. Many farmers lured west by the promise of quick wealth never returned. Coincidentally, the railroads made the cities less dependent upon domestic farm produce, and Massachusetts' farmers found themselves competing in the markets with those from Indiana and Illinois. Industrialization and the offer of free western lands to Civil War veterans reduced still further the farm labor pool. When harvests from the new western farms and ranches began to flow eastward the roof fell in on farming as it had been known. 27
As farmers were lured from the land, trees re-established themselves for the first time in one to two centuries on the deserted pastures and croplands. In the new woodlands the pine dominated. One other tree was able, on some sites, to compete with the pine. This was the chestnut which, like the pine, was intolerant of shade and had occupied a minor place in the original forests. By 1890, much of this "old field" chestnut and pine was ready for commercial lumbering. The returin of the forests was further assisted by a reduction in grazing. sheep production dropped from 68,000 head in 1880 to less than one-half of this by 1900. Although these same years saw a substantial increase in the numbers of milk cows and horses, the livestock was increasingly confined to grassland pastures. Regional diversification and specialization, however, did not arrest the trend from an agricultural to an industrial society. Industrial progress had been a quiet and gradual process as primitive colonial shops grew into thriving plants. This changed with the advent of the Twentieth Century. Gas gave way to the electric light. The horse made way for the gasoline engine. Labor was shackled to the spindle and lathe. Mass production came into being. Each new invention gave rise to another, and these to yet more. Working hours grew shorter and wages higher. Shiploads of immigrants arrived and the melting pot came to a full boil. Rural towns became cities and sprawled into the surrounding lands. The new mobility accompanying the increase in human numbers saw the angler whisked from one stream to another in the matter of minutes. In 1913, there were 63,000 automobiles in Massachusetts. Today there are 1.7 million. Harvesting "old field" white pine continued for a number of years after the turn of the century. In 1909 there were 643 sawmills, many of which moved from one locality to another denuding the countryside. As this exploitive cutting waned for lack of material, a second tragedy struck. The chestnut bark disease reached American shores and by 1920 the chestnut tree was gone. When the white pines were cut inferior sprout hardwoods largely replaced them. Other calamities followed, adding to the more preventable damage by fire and insects. The hurricane of 1938 wiped out practically all the stands of pine that had survived the earlier logging operations, much of the mature hemlock in the central and western counties, and a great deal of the best older hardwood timber. A second hurricane in 1944 took an additional toll. So while the forest returned, it differed markedly from the original, both initially and today. The dilemma of what has happened to trout fishing: Many wonder why the return of the forest did not herald the reappearance of native trout. "True, housing developments, motels, and roads have sprung up from hell to breakfast. Still, there are miles and miles of streams where I can remember filling many a lard paid with some of the nicest natives you ever saw. Yet, the fishing in late years has all but gone to pot, even though 28
these same streams and their watersheds are more wooded than when I was a boy. If you ask me, it is the increase in everybody and his brother fishing that is responsible, that's what !" Fact or fancy, truth or fiction ? The riddle of what has happened is befuddled with conflicting opinion, some new, some old, but all tinged with the fantasy of past trout abundance and the ill-boding of "too many darn fishermen." The influence of shade: Most trout streams in southern New England do and undoubtedly always did approach the upper temperature limits for trout. While the climate can only be described as temperate with long, cold winters, the short, humid summers are inevitably plagued by intervals of blistering tropical heat. It is these periods of hot weather that pose the perennial threat of limiting trout-carrying capacity of our streams. Characteristically, water temperatures of such surface runoff streams follow atmospheric conditions. Whether they exceed the lethal limits for trout, thereby eliminating survival completely, or merely rise into the sub-lethal temperature range where only the more hardy individuals survive in the more favored niches, can be demonstrated to be pretty much a matter of streambank shade. A North Carolina study shows that a stream with little or no shade will average from nine to twenty degrees higher in water temperatures than will a comparable shaded stream. A stream and its sources shielded from the summer sun by foliage rarely exceeds 68 to 70 degrees in this latitude. Remove the shade and the temperature increase is of about the same magnitude as in the North Carolina study. Streams originating from the overflow of warmwater ponds may not adhere to this description, but even in such situations the influence of shade on water temperatures is startling. Pond outflows have been examined statewide that averaged 80 to 90 degrees. More often than not, the streams exhibited temperatures in
By 1750, the land was virtually one vast farm. Only remnant scraps of forest land persisted in the Berkshires and Cape because they were too wet, steep. or otherwise unfit for farming.
As farmers were lured from the land beginning in about 1850, trees reestablished themselves for the first time in one to two centuries on the deserted pastures and croplands.
By 1890, much of this "old field" chestnut and pine was ready for commercial lumbering. Another period of exploitive clear cutting and burning followed.
So while currently between 80 and 85 percent of the state is in forest, it differs markedly from the original, both Initially and today.
the low seventies once they had run down a well-shaded outlet a few hundred yards. It is true that pond outlet locations favor the presence of cool ground seepage. However, it is unlikely that such flow augmentation accounts in whole for the temperature differentials noted. Cellars are notoriously damp and cool on a stifling summer's day. One Canadian study found the same marked relationship in sub-climate between the atmospheric temperature of an undisturbed forest and one recently denuded of all tall trees. The difference amounted to an average of 33 degrees at midday for the month of July. Apparently the cool, moist soil and atmosphere of the forest floor is to water temperatures what ice is to rye whiskey. This seems to be particularly applicable to small streams whose limited volume is much more amenable to cooling than larger ones. The delicacy of balance in a stream whereby a slight increase in water temperature renders the stream unfavorable for trout is well known. In Tennessee an upstream migration of brook trout was simultaneous with the removal of timber from the watershed. In Pennsylvania trout movement out of an area was caused by excessive deer-browsing of willows shading the water ! Flooding has played a decisive role in warming stream temperatures. Flows, instead of being confined to relatively deep channels which were well-shaded, are now shallow, spread out and exposed to the warming effects of the summer sun. Channel widening is one reason why the return of the forest did not automatically increase streamside shade. Furthermore, in the shallow rock and boulder-strewn stream bottoms, the exposed rocks have acted as a more efficient heating apparatus in warming up the water. Lack of shade also has meant increased evaporation resulting in reduced flows, which in turn are more easily warmed. The greatest transformation from cold to warm water habitat has occurred on the larger streams where the destructive forces of flood currents are greatest. Additional deterioration in habitat on many of these streams 30
has been due to dredging for flood control to protect paralleling highways and railroads. Built in such locations because of the favorable grades, both have served to minimize streambank shade. This is particularly true of the railroads, which more often than not were built on the immediate embankment and are plagued by engine-kindled brush fires, but perhaps no more so than the carelessly-tossed cigarette butt from a speeding automobile. Many streams never did support trout: Of course, many of the larger rivers never did contain cold water or support trout, as pointed out for the Charles River before the American Revolution. This was evidently true of the Connecticut, Merrimack, and the lower reaches of the Westfield, Deerfield, Housatonic, Millers, and other like-size rivers, at least in the Nineteenth Century. Periodicals and newspapers of that day treated the occasional capture of a trout in these waters as a freakish event. Many old-timers have expressed the opinion that trout fishing in any of the main stems of the major drainages, prior to the days of stocking with catchable trout, was always poor and limited to the vicinity of tributary inlets. This is confirmed, in part at least, by almost complete failure of private interests to acquire, stock, and regulate streams exclusively for trout fishing as has been the pattern in most mid-Atlantic states possessing trout streams of merit. Large sections of the Au Sable, Neversink, and Beaverkill Rivers in New York have been thus developed dating back to before the turn of the century. Certainly there was no lack of demand in this state for the same thing. Furthermore, the few streams so apportioned, like the Mashpee and Konkapot Rivers, were the smaller rivers or larger brooks whose inherent trout potential rates high. Obviously our streams have always exhibited tremendous temperature variations for trout--as reflected in relative abundance--varying from stream to stream and from headwaters to mouth. The same thing prevails today with the coolest water found closest to its source. "Still, this does not explain the enigma of the miles and miles of streams lacing the state, which used to be less-wooded and great producers, but now do not contain any native trout bigger than a hoptoad!" Many factors contribute to this illusion. Faulty arithmetic and the old-time angler: Even with their greater bags and longer seasons, the old-time anglers exerted less fishing pressure than do their modern counterparts. Fishing territory was limited by the range of horse and buggy. Joe Doaks worked ten to twelve hours a day, six days a week, and an empty pew on Sunday would set every tongue in the community clacking. The tremendous increase in anglers and angling hardly needs elaboration. Twelve hundred native trout divided among 1,200 anglers may not represent an impressive catch, but it would be if divided among only 100 anglers ! The brown trout--a red herring in disguise: In many streams, the German brown trout has usurped the native brook trout. This has not come about because of the cannibalistic inclination of the brown. The 31
brown trout, merely by being harder to catch, has taken over for the brookie. Effects of this transformation have often been manifested in "fished out" labels being affixed to what in reality are some pretty excellent trout streams. Scoffers may scoff but should not be confused between the inherent wariness of the native brown and that of their kin recentlyarrived straight from the hatchery. One is a pretty smart hombre for today's "dubber" army of anglers to master and the other is not. The writer has repeatedly observed streams that have given up creel after creel of marked stockies along with only an occasional wild fish. Later summer population sampling amazingly revealed only the presence of wild trout--mostly browns--by contrast. Many anglers hold, of course, that the term "native" referred to in the illusionary riddle meant brown trout. This is true, as best can be pieced together for sections of such streams as the Westfield and Millers. The turn-of-the-century introductions of brown trout were largely confined to the middle extremities of the larger streams. This stemmed from the species' avowed reputation for enduring warmer water than brook trout and for feeding on other fishes. Apparently, prevailing summer water temperatures then were on a par with the marginal headwater streams of today. So, initially, ·the brown trout made a home for itself where the brook trout was excluded by competition from other fishes that flourished in the warm water. Later, as water conditions became still warmer, the same fate befell the brown trout, but not before they 'had established themselves in many of the suitable tributaries. The trouble with misty memories: Misty memory is a poor criterion for comparing what we have with what once existed. People see but don't see, as any police officer investigating a crime will verify. Over long periods they remember even less. All too frequently the well-shaded, forested stream of today may actually exist--in the area noted--but the burntover 'headwater area is not seen. The new roads, houses, ponds, and other changes associated with increased settlement are overlooked as being related to the effects they have had on the water cycle and streams. If such obviously changed relationships between watershed and stream go unrecognized, what of the more subtle changes from man's modification of the land that may have been at work for centuries? Causes of fluctuations in water supplies: There is a problem in discriminating between natural and man-induced influences on water resources. Many fluctuations are the result of natural climatic factors. Thus the level of some water supplies have dropped over long periods of our history due to changes in climate and not because of man. On the other hand, there are numerous examples of the effects of landuse on the water cycle. The saga of Davis County, Utah, is one of the more dramatic. Summers are dry in this valley paralleling the mile-high Wasatch mountain wall. Usually the drought is broken at intervals by violent thunderstorms. Such cloudbursts had been known to the inhabitants since pioneer days. But, around 1900, people noticed that after such storms the creeks rose higher, carried more debris, did more damage. 32
The suitability of water temperatures in streams for trout in this region is pretty much regulated by how well the water is shaded from the warming effects of the summer sun. Only a few understood what was happening until that fateful August day in 1923 when yet another storm struck. Within minutes, canyons above the valley poured out over the farms terrifying floods. High up on the mountainside the pelting rain struck patches of earth. As the water rushed down ravines it picked up earth, stones, uprooted vegetation. A torrent of fearful stuff looking like thick cement started downhill. Every foot of slope gave it more momentum ; when it reached the bottom of the canyon the narrow wall acted like the nozzle on a hose and multiplied its power. In a single hour the flows spread over some of the richest farms. They filled irrigation canals; crushed houses, barns, schools ; buried railroad lines and highways under rocks and mud. They deposited boulders weighing up to 200 tons. In some areas the deposit was six feet deep. Every summer after 1923 brought new floods until the county was on the brink of destruction. An exhaustive study made clear that not nature but the inhabitants of Davis County were responsible. The timber on the face of the mountains had been logged off ; brush and grass fires over the years had destroyed the plant cover. More important, for years the people had grazed too many cattle and sheep on the mountain slopes. Land misuse thus shockingly made clear was replaced by a bold attempt to hold the raindrop where it fell. Grazing was prohibited on the most perilous slopes and carefully controlled or reduced on others. Slopes were terraced and planted with grasses and trees. Gradually over the next two decades the impaired watershed healed. Treatment was vindicated by no more deathly mud flows following innocent summer rains. Not all land and water use inter-relationships are as clear-cut. There is as yet no complete explanation for the changes in the flow of the Columbia River. Runoff declined progressively from 1893 to 1945 and has climbed steadily upward ever since. However, with increasing length of records, some natural and man-induced variations in the hydrological cycle have become clearer. For many years, New Englanders have commented on the warming of their climate with older people referring to the "old fashioned" winters 33
they once knew. Climatologists long shrugged off the idea as unfounded, but a warming climate during the past 50 years is now well-documented. Varying an estimated few degrees in temperature to none, depending upon location, the trend has been sufficient to register shifts in the abundance and distribution of some important commercial fishes along the Atlantic coast. The ominous threat of such a trend to trout is obvious, although there is no way of pin-pointing specific effects. Flooding--its effect and significance: Yet another trend which has been documented is the increase in flooding. Pre-revolutionary town meeting appropriations for annual bridge repairs in the Berkshire region tell us that flooding was common then. However, they do not tell us whether such flooding was normal or accelerated due to land-use changes. We know that later on some of the hill towns were settled, in part, out of deference to the floods that plagued the river bottoms. In any event, somewhere in the mid-Nineteenth Century, not just normal flooding that had occurred for centuries, but abnormally severe flooding began to be the rule rather than the exception. This trend continued, culminating in the great floods of 1936 and 1938. Coincidently, these dates seem to demark trout stream fishing as it used to be from what it is today in the minds of a few anglers. Before the floods, hatchery catchables evidently supplemented the regular fare of wild trout. After the floods, the reverse seems to have been true. The local conservation officer maintains that a small fish resembling the description of the sculpin or freshwater muddler was abundant in the Millers River prior to the floods of 1936-38. He attributed much of the success of anglers in taking large brown trout, which the stream was noted for in the early 1930's, to the resemblance of these small fishes to the then favored Golden Devron Alcock spinning lures. When surveyed in 1953, trout carryover was found to be negligible in the Millers. Not one sculpin was found, although present in a few of the tributaries. As the sculpin is often accepted as an indicator of trout water, its passage from the river, if true, signifies rapid change from at least semi-cold to warmwater fish habitat. There can be little doubt that the effects of flooding on streams has been a lot more damaging than generally imagined. The forest cover was 34
The return of the forest did not automatically increase streamside shade because of channel widening in the Interval. cut and burned on one watershed and left untouched in a paired basin in Colorado. Peak flows from the abused watershed exceeded those of the undisturbed basin by 25 percent, with the extremes ranging to 50 percent. Similar studies in other states show the same results. And it is the extreme or peak flows that do the most permanent damage by widening stream channels. Abusive land practices, adversely affecting forest cover invariably result in so-called flashy streams that alternately flood and dry up. Certainly the haphazard, exploitive grazing, burning, and cutting practices which characterized Massachusetts' long stewardship of the land agrees with such a cause-and-effect relationship. It has likewise been shown that reduction of tree cover is not in itself detrimental to the water supply of streams just so long as forest soil conditions are maintained. Unfortunately, while grazing, timber cutting, and the other agricultural activities need not be incompatible with desirable soil permeability, in the past at least, they have been. Flooding then is but an indication that soil permeability has been reduced. When the ground loses its soak-in capabilities the water runs off overland to produce high and flashy stream flow, erode the soil, and load streams with sediment. Once such erosion starts, the winter high water flows be- 35
There can be little doubt that the effect of increased flooding on streams has been a lot more damaging to trout habitat than generally imagined, especially in widening stream channels that result in increased summertime water temperatures. 36
come greater. As water flows become greater, the eroding power of the water increases, causing more erosion, which in turn causes still greater floods. So a vicious cycle is begun, with increasing damage not only to trout habitat but to the future capability of the watershed to produce desirable vegetation. The tremendous force generating this cycle--just plain, old water--is little realized. For example, a plot of land in this state only 10 feet square receives and disposes of about 12 tons of water each year. One acre receives about 5,000 tons ; and 10,000 acres, not a very large watershed, incidentally, is battered with about fifty million tons! In the orderly disposition of such huge amounts of water, every piece of ground--a square foot, an acre, a square mile, a complete drainage basin --performs a vitally important function. Waterproofing the soil mantle with concrete and macadam obviously changes this function. The impact of thousands of grazing sheep and cattle hooves, particularly in the more sensitive steep drainage areas unfit for cultivation, works toward the same end. Tillage, by exhausting the notoriously deficient organic matter of New England's thin soils so essential to the looseness of the soil pack, acts in the same fashion. A cover of living vegetation and litter maintains soil permeability, allowing land to receive precipitation and dispose of it in an orderly way. Fire kills or injures plant cover and destroys litter. Thus the stage is set for the cycle of increasing destruction. Just how easily this stage can be set in some climates and terrain is incredible. Peak stream discharge from a 1,500-acre California watershed only 32 percent burned was 67 times normal ! Roughly 90 wheelbarrows of topsoil were eroded from each of a series of 1/10 acre plots in the moun- In the orderly disposition of precipitation, every square foot of ground performs a vitally important function. This function is destroyed or lessened by waterproofing with roads or buildings, or by exploitive grazing, burning or cutting practices. Here, we see how topsoil and litter is destroyed by fire.
It is obvious that the balance between water, soiL forest, and trout will never again be what it once was. There are too many people, houses, factories, roads. tains of Utah following the removal of the plant growth. Only one percent of the precipitation that fell did this work. The damage was done in but six years time. Before the vegetation was removed, the soils on the sites were estimated to have been stable for the better part of 20,000 years ! What it takes to reverse this destructive cycle is illustrative of the same thing. Trees were planted and erosion control devices installed on a small, abused Tennessee watershed in 1947. Four years later, surface runoff was reduced by 30 to 80 percent. Peak discharge rates were down 61 to 87 percent. There was an 82 percent increase in ground soak-in. Erosion had been reduced from 2,100 tons a year to 10 percent of that amount. Altered ground water yield to streams: Abuse of land resulting in reduced soil permeability obviously influences flooding and erosion. But, how important are such factors to ground water supplies in a state such as this where the majority of watersheds are characterized by a shallow soil mantle perched upon relatively impermeable rocks or hardpan? On the Middle Branch drainage of the Westfield River, 57 percent of the annual precipitation runs off while 43 percent sinks into the ground. By contrast, intake on the Red. River watershed, North Dakota, amounts to 94 percent, and 70 percent goes underground on the Pearl River drainage in Mississippi. Ground water flows to streams, contrary to being unimportant because of their limitations, undoubtedly once ranked second to streamside shade in significance in regulating the distribution and abundance of trout. The analogy here is that a dime means little to a millionaire, but is all-important to a penniless beggar. Just what the decrease in ground water yield to streams amounts to since pioneer days we will never know. Levels of wells do not even tell us whether the water table has actually fallen. Wells, we know, modify natural circulation by diverting water that would normally be discharged into 38
streams, springs, and seeps. Undoubtedly the building of thousands upon thousands of wells accompanying settlement seriously altered the natural circulation of ground water supplies to streams. But the purported diminution in well-water supplies could be the result of sinking more and more efficient wells, so as to decrease each well's share in this subterranean water common to all. It could also be the result of a falling water table due to changes in vegetative cover, drawing upon storage during drought when use exceeds the safe yield, or a combination of such factors. Water entering the forest as rain or snow, being intercepted by trees, penetrating the litter, duff, and soil, oozing from seeps and springs to form streams, is so closely associated with every part of the forest that it may be considered part of the forest complex itself. Obviously this delicate balance began to be upset almost from the time the first settler stepped ashore from the Mayflower. At first the changes did not amount to much, but as woodland replaced wilderness, open farms woodland, five million people instead of a few thousand Indians, etc., the effects multiplied crazily, fed on themselves, and subtly exacted their toll of trout environment. The twilight zone of the land, water, and trout equation: Land may withstand misuse for a long time. When it begins to go, though, it goes fast. It is the record rainstorm that usually triggers the death knell. Several times in the last 25 years there have been such storms. There followed the most disastrous floods in the state's history. Were these calamities symbolic that the stage had long been set and that three centuries of impairing watershed capacities was belatedly catching up, at least with regard to trout streams? We can only speculate. Our own record-breaking storms of recent years indicate that even our longest weather records give us only a poor indication of the weather we can expect. It is quite possible that while such intense storms undoubtedly occurred in the past, they occurred but once in one, two, or even five hundred years. As such, it is conceivable that their occurrence could have skipped the period between 1750 and 1875 when land misuse was at its height and watersheds least able to cope with abnormal rains. This would possibly help explain why wild trout fishing did not go to pot a lot earlier in our history. Thus it is possible that had our watershed not been on the mend when these storms finally did occur, results would have been a lot more drastic than they were. That the return of the forest in the latter half of the last century did not insure more protection from the effects of recent record-breaking rains is not surprising. Just as it may sometimes take years to destroy, it may take years to rebuild. The time a watershed needs for complete recovery of its original soak-in capacity from such factors as fire, overgrazing, and tillage is measured in centuries. As the protective covering develops, the surface soil gradually loosens through the action of insects, plant roots, wetting and drying, and freezing and thawing. In places where erosion has occurred, rebuilding the soil to its former depth and humus content is a long, slow process when one realizes that it takes nature one century to make but one inch of topsoil. 39
Trout fishing isn't what it used to be and it never was: Regardless of how hard nature works towards primeval conditions, and it labors mightily in this direction where given even half a chance, it is obvious that the whole delicate balance between water, soil, forest and trout will never again be what it once was. There are too many people, houses, factories, roads. The clock cannot be turned back. Many of the babbling brooks of yore that were home to the gaudily-colored native are now fetid, scumfilled, concrete-encased drain ditches. And while this is sad, such so-called prices of progress are not necessarily inevitable. We can have stream trout fishing. True, it won't be the kind of trout fishing we'd like to have or the kind we think we should have, but if it is any consolation, the sketchy record indicates it never was. 40
WHY HATCHERY TROUT ARE NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR WILD TROUT If the angler is to understand the results that can be expected from stocking, he must face-up to the limitations imposed by economics and nature. Economic Limitations A fishing license will buy only so many trout. Costs of raising trout to catchable size approximate one dollar per pound (price from private hatcheries is $1.95 per pound). Theoretically, an individual fishing license could purchase four pounds of trout, but this is not the case in practise. Roughly, 50 cents out of each fishing license dollar is spent directly raising trout. The remainder is spent on administration, law enforcement, distribution, access, and other activities, many of which are costs engendered by trout propagation. Undoubtedly, total costs of the trout program runs close to 75 cents of each license dollar. Obviously, if you are one of the lucky few who catches the bulk of the planted trout, $4.00 does get you $40.00! Natural Limitations Anglers only catch about one-half of the trout stocked. There are several reasons for this, but in the main, it revolves about the varying percentage of hatchery trout that do not survive long enough after planting to be available for capture. When trout are taken from the easy life of a hatchery and planted in a wild environment, basic needs must be met or they die. Rarely are these needs fully met. It must be realized, however, that even under the best of conditions a percentage of hatchery trout die shortly after planting. Wild trout have maintained themselves in many waters of North America in the face of fishing, natural predators, starvation, disease, and pollution. Trout have a high reproductive capacity. If all the young from one pair of 7-inch brook trout were to survive to maturity, the population would multiply 200 times every two years ! There is little reason to believe that stocked trout are not subject to the same decimating factors that hold wild populations in check. Actually, the evidence indicates that survival of hatchery trout is less than that of wild fish of comparable size and species. Apparently the effect of the hatchery is to delay operation of "survival of the fittest" which prevails in a stream. Nor should it be overlooked that mortality in the hatchery is entirely negligible. We must, therefore, consider a high rate of mortality of fish planted a normal occurrence. All the many, many tests of stocked trout have demonstrated this mortality, including those made by the wardens back in the 1930's in this state (Table 2) and later by the biologists (Table 1). Where do dead trout go: Sportsmen refuse to believe that such mortality occurs--"Where do the dead trout go? We never see them!" The same reasoning fostered the myth of elephant graveyards for generations. 41
Hatchery trout are ill-equipped to contend with heavy stream currents, particularly those associated with the early spring runoff. A percentage die as a direct result of such forces.
Hatchery trout also die due to starvation resulting from competition from resident fishes.
While the jungle, decay and scavengers quickly remove any traces of one of the world's mightiest creatures wherever it happens to die, the innocuous looking stream environment is no less fully equipped to handle the same problem. Fish mortality as envisioned by most sportsmen appears to relate to the catastrophic type "fish kills." Examples are trout stocked in too warm a water and a misdirected shot of mosquito spray. The result is belly-up floating fish for all to see. Such a mode of death is tantamount to human mortality on the battlefield, which, while drastic, is not representative of the long-term toll of the races. Fish that die of natural causes rarely float and the numerous scavengers of the wild leave few clues that they once existed. When they are occasionally noticed by anglers, one or two dead fish are not readily associated with the high mortalities reported. But, add a few more dead fish for those that go unnoticed, multiply by the many miles of streams not traveled, and remember that fish die throughout 365 days of the year and see what you have. Why they die: The following have been repeatedly noted as possible causes of low survival: 1. Artificial diet, exercise, breeding and conditioning in the hatchery. As an example, the flesh of hatchery trout contains more water and fat, and less protein and ash, than that of wild trout. The fat content likewise is less healthful in its chemical makeup, and possibly lowers resistance of the fish to both high and low temperatures. 2. Poor stocking procedure with respect to handling, time, water temperatures, and flooding. 3. Migration or drift into polluted or other unsuitable water areas. 4. Planting trout directly into unsuitable environments. 5. Competition from other fishes. 42
TABLE 1. Angler returns of catchable size brook, brown, and rainbow trout stocked in Massachusetts streams.
Stream and year
Total percent return
Number of trout stocked by time (March, first two weeks of April immediately prior to
opening day, and inseason in the spring) and percent of estimated harvest.
March April Inseason March April Inseason March April Inseason
Quaboag R. 1942
3,760 60%
Deerfield R. 1946 Deerfield R. 1947 Westfield R. 1952 Millers R. 1953 Millers R. tribs. 1953 Squannacook R. 1953 Sguannacook R. tribs. 1953 Nashoba Br. 1954 Ipswich R. 1954 Shawsheen R. 1954
33-50% 31% 21-26% 46% 35% 44% 37% 27% 50% 51%
7,740 4,600 23,968 29% 5,200 49% 25,543 54% 4,850 44% 5,000 37% 1,000 34% 21,600 52% 12,700 47%
2,500 33% 1,762 80%
100 11,963 48% 400 75% 2,055 80% 600 8% 4,400 26% 1,100 18%
2,650 4,600 13,150 20% 3,000 35% 4,800 10% 5,200 38% 250 600 21% 6,800 60% 1,800 71%
175 32% 1,200
400 3,722 32% 400 70%
2,065 4,600 15,100 21% 2,500 40% 2,400 16% 1,500 63% 900
3,900 53% 2,600 74%
2,579 39% 100 16% 500
3,900 36% 400 62%
4 "Salter" streams 1954-55 Taunton drainage 4 streams 1955
599 36%
1,600 35%
599 25%
1,477 30%
599 29%
Trout stocked close to opening day or inseason coincident with stabilized or lowering water levels resulted in returns of about double that of those stocked in March when streams were flooded. Exceptions to this were trout stocked in Nashoba Brook, the Shawsheen and Ipswich Rivers in 1954 coincident with severe May and June flooding.
Study of certain exceptions to this expected high mortality first suggested that competition from other fishes might be one of the more important factors. It was recognized that all plants of fingerling trout in ponds with established warm-water fish populations failed, whereas similar plants in waters devoid of other fish life were highly successful. About the time the foregoing began to crystallize in the early 1950's, a series of pertinent experiments were begun in Canada. Enclosures were made in a test stream. Lots of marked trout were then stocked in these areas. Resident fish were removed from some controlled sections prior to stocking. Dead fish were removed and recorded, and living fish were captured, weighed, and released daily. In this way, mortality and weight changes of hatchery trout in the stream were followed. Hatchery-reared trout superimposed on a resident population of wild fish showed a general inability to survive. Poor survival was found to be associated with size to some degree. Thus, when hatchery trout were larger than wild fish, 65 percent survived the first summer. When the hatchery trout were the same size or smaller, survival was 15 to 34 percent. More than half of the first summer's mortality occurred in the 10 days following planting. Survival of hatchery trout over the winter, for all sizes, was negligible. Wild trout superimposed on a wild resident population exhibited the same reactions as the hatchery trout, but to a very much smaller degree. Mortality over the first summer was less than 10 percent, and over the winter the same as the resident population. Weight losses occurred but less so than for hatchery trout, and the lost weight was regained after 30 to 50 days. Other lots of trout, raised in a hatchery but held for 10 to 18 months in a natural stream before planting, exhibited weight losses and mortality greater than transplanted wild trout, but less than hatchery trout fresh from the rearing pond. Hatchery trout planted in a section of stream where all other fish life had been removed exhibited very high survival and gained weight from the day of planting. These trout were subjected to the same forces as the other lots of trout, except that competition was lacking. These painstaking and exacting experiments led to several conclusions : 1. The weight loss occurring in all trout stocked on top of fish already present must be due to competition. Mortality cannot be attributed solely to competition, however, since 13 to 16 percent died in the absence of competition. This percentage must die as a result of physical forces in the stream. The additional 40 percent that die when competition is present presumably also succumb to physical forces, but only because of prior occupancy of all desirable niches in the stream. Death is more than likely due to exhaustion and insufficient food under such conditions. 2. Low survival over the winter is a result of weight loss. As winter is the lean season, trout in poor condition have a small chance of surviving. Poor condition is a result of unsuccessful competition with resident fish. 3. When trout are superimposed on a resident fish population, they normally do not remain in the place planted. Wild trout moved upstream 44
TABLE 2. A summary of harvest tallies made by the wardens and estimated by them to represent 75 percent of the total angling effort and catch for the years 1934 and 1935 on 79.7 miles of leased streams in Massachusetts.1
Stream Copecut River Farmington River Millers River (upper) Millers River (lower) Squannacook River Westfield, E. Branch Westfield, W. Branch Westfield, Middle Branch
Average number of trout stocked per mile per year
Angler trips per mile
Trout harvest per mile
Average cost per trout harvested $3.29 $1.41 $1.30 $1.09 $1.63 $1.08 $1.11 $0.88
1Hatchery trout were not marked in these studies ; even so, it should be obvious, even though the take includes wild trout, that the return on hatchery trout was poor. Cost per trout harvested includes the expense of leasing, stocking, and patrolling the streams under lease agreement. Totals not listed include 12,944 anglers interviewed in 1934 with 7,233 trout and 9,332 anglers with 7,611 trout in 1935. Source of data : 14 page mimeographed letter from Arthur Merrill, Chief Culturist, to Patrick W. Hehir, Director, July 30, 1936.
in these experiments. Hatchery trout drifted in the current and hence downstream. In further attempts seeking to tie down the causes of such losses, the Canadians indicated that these losses might result from competition with other fish for living space rather than food alone, thus forcing the stockie to constant, excessive exercise resulting in death by either acidosis (this might be compared to leukemia in humans) or starvation. This idea stemmed from the fact that significant differences in blood lactic acid levels were found between hatchery trout with and without competition. Behavior studies in California, Indiana, Canada, and several other states show that all fishes tend to occupy the same general stream areas for considerable periods of time. This being the case, some of the hatchery trout die soon after planting from exhaustion or shock largely brought about by the aggressive, hostile activities of resident fishes in maintaining "their place in the sun." Wild creatures are not renowned for voluntarily sharing what they stake out for their own. We've all been a spectacle to a dog and his bone. Brute force can alter such a standoff, but as we have all seen, hatchery trout are psychologically, chemically, and physically poor contenders in any such struggle. Thus, it is apparent that efforts to create fish "tenement districts" by dumping large numbers of trout into short stretches of stream fail both because of lack of living space and inability to compete with resident fishes already present. The problem is compounded in streams as compared to ponds. In ponds, mortality is invariably less than for a comparable stocking in a stream. The reason for this is that streams present a much more rigorous and demanding place to live. Tremendous amounts of energy are required in coping with currents alone. Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats burned off in the production of energy are not available for body-building or growth. But, while food requirements are greater, there is less food available due to diminished fertility and the fact that streams are generally stocked heavier on a unit-area basis. Hatchery trout, then, fail as a substitute for wild trout because they are neither "wild" nor inexpensive. This is so regardless of the fact that we have learned how to circumvent a few of nature's shortcomings at the propagation level. Nature very obviously takes over and evens the score once the hatchery product comes under her influence in the wild. 46
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE -- ACTION PROGRAMS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Stocking The advent of trout stocking 100 years ago marked the beginning of fish management as it has evolved today. Early activities were confined to artificial propagation and law enforcement. Over the years, other programs have been added, but trout culture remains an important tool. It will continue to be so. Size of trout to stock: In the early days, it was customary to plant "millions" of eggs or fry. Results proved disappointing. Fingerlings were tried next with only slightly better results. Stocking of catchable-size trout to provide immediate fishing followed. The catchable program met with wide acclaim and has been expanded with the passage of time. Currently, slightly better than one million catchable-size trout are planted annually in Massachusetts. In 1959 over one-half of these ranged between 9 and 12 inches in length. How large should catchable trout be, though? Agencies have aimed at releasing fish that anglers will immediately accept as satisfactory. In late years, however, it has become all too apparent that anglers are not long satisfied, and demand ever larger trout. A few large fish in a plant of medium sized trout brings on an immediate angler dissatisfaction with the smaller fish. Under the spiraling demand for larger and larger trout it would seem that any arbitrary size standard would have to be discarded and some ceiling placed on the size of fish produced. The biology and economics of the matter are such that they should decide the issue. While anyone would prefer to fish for lunkers, big trout cost more. Doubting Thomases need only check on the prices asked by commercial hatcheries. The bigger the fish, the greater the feeding, care, and mortality, due to time alone. So while the average cost of raising a pound of all sizes of trout approximates one dollar, production of so-called brood stock fish runs severalfold. Put another way, there is a point of diminishing returns in growing trout. This cut-off size is generally around 11 or 12 inches. California, as a result, sets the lengths of the 7,500,000 trout stocked annually in their "put-and-take" program, the largest countrywide, at 7Y2 to 9 inches. Tag returns from 75,000 trout stocked in streams of this state show the best results from trout ranging between 8 and 12 inches. Returns for this size bracket were 50 percent higher than for fish between 6 and 8 inches in length. One-to-five pound brood stock fish failed to make a comparable showing with medium size fish. This is possibly accounted for in that such lunkers represented prima donnas in the wild due to years of a spoon-fed existence in the hatchery. In all possibility the adage about ·teaching an old dog new tricks equally applies to hatchery trout. 47
Biology and economics dictate that trout stocked for immediate fishing should be between 8 and 12 inches. Optimum results, then, both from the standpoint of efficient hatchery operations and trout biology, are attained by raising and stocking trout in the 8 to 12 inch bracket. This is the current commission policy and objective, even though some trout under and over these sizes are planted annually for immediate angler harvest. Time of stocking: When trout were planted as 3-to-4-inch fingerlings, most plants were made in the fall. While returns were low, this procedure was well-suited to hatchery operations. It freed rearing space for the next hatch and eliminated winter operations when ice and snow caused difficulties. The better returns obtained by rearing fingerlings to the following spring, or in the case of most 9-12 inch trout yet another year, has far outweighed the disadvantages. As a result, fall stocking has been dropped in favor of spring stocking. Despite the well-established fact that hatchery trout do not winter-over well, some sportsmen continue to clamor for fall stocking. This preference is based on the supposition that trout which have over-wintered are wilder fish and will not be as quickly removed when the season opens. In the 1930's, thinking switched from the topic of how many fish were stocked to the question of how many fish were caught. This propelled the changeover from stocking fingerlings to catchables. It also sparked several states to instigate research to answer the question of when was the best time to stock. 48
Landowners will cooperate with fishermen provided courtesy and appropriate regard for the integrity of private property are shown. However, it is improbable that we can continue to rely for long on such hospitality. The occasional beer can and sandwich wrapper left behind by the angler have been replaced by virtually a smaller edition of the city dump. An overwhelming amount of evidence was procured in favor of stocking just prior to or during the season. Average returns from spring stocking were five times as great as fall stocking, and one stream in Michigan showed a forty-to-one ratio in favor of inseason over fall stocking. More recently (1959) a national authority summarized these and all the many other findings gleaned from research since carried out on the subject. 1. Plants of fingerlings made at all seasons of the year fare the worst. The recovery rate averaged only 2.5 percent from 21 experiments. Ten experiments yielded less than a one percent return while four gave zero returns. 2. Stream plants of catchables made in advance of the angling season were second only to inseason plants in rate of angler return. In the 54 experiments reported, an average recovery rate of 28.6 percent was determined, the range being from 82.0 to 2.6 percent. Twenty-four of the 54 experiments produced returns of less than 20 percent. 3. Stream plants of catchables made during the open season yielded an average return of 41.3 percent for 68 tests. The range extended from a high 92.2 percent to a low of 1.0 percent. Twenty-six of the 68 tests gave returns of less than 30 percent. Highest returns were from Rush Creek in California. 49
4. The mean rate of return from 31 experiments representing catchables stocked in the fall after the close of the season was 16.8 percent. The range was from 88.6 to 0.2 percent. Highest returns were from Spring Creek, Pennsylvania. In this experiment, five plants were made; one of large brook, two of rainbow, and two with brown trout. Returns of from 47 percent on the brook to 88.6 percent on the rainbow trout were realized. If these five recovery figures are eliminated, the mean drops to only 8.9 percent. Both Spring Creek, Pennsylvania and Rush Creek in California, are spring-fed streams not subject to drought and floods, temperature extremes, or to heavy snow and ice in winter, and high recovery rates from such streams are not surprising. Where more average stream conditions prevail, the poor returns that can be expected from fall stocking should be self-evident. No evidence was found in any of the studies to substantiate the point that fall-stocked trout are wilder and therefore less susceptible to angler depletion when the season opens. Fall-stocked fish that had lived through the winter were as vulnerable to angling as those stocked inseason. In the Pennsylvania study, in which the best returns for fall stocking were realized, no differences were noted in the "wildness" of the trout planted in the fall or spring. Fishing for brook trout was good for only a few days, brown trout fishing was fair for about a month, while rainbow trout fishing lasted slightly longer. Catches of any of the stocked trout were negligible after the season had been open for only six weeks. This was true even though only about one-half the trout stocked were creeled! It is, therefore, only good sense to attempt to stock hatchery trout just prior to, and during, the season until such time as a better "mousetrap" comes along. 50
Number of trout to stock: In establishing stocking quotas for putand-take trout fishing in its ultimate form, there need be no consideration of habitat, carryover, carrying capacity, etc. The essential consideration is the potential fishing pressure of a given area over a given period. The proper number of fish are then "put" to meet the estimated "take". Unfortunately, this system of determining stocking levels in a populous state is impossible to apply. The initial planting starts a chain reaction. Fishing pressure increases. More trout are stocked. And so the cycle continues with increases in anglers requiring more and more stocking. Aside from the obvious limitation of not enough trout to meet the demand, there are other drawbacks. Pyramiding numbers of hatchery trout invariably results in carnivallike atmospheres. Crowds of anglers are attracted to the stocking site. In the mad scramble to get their money's worth, the gentle art of angling becomes something far less. Posting of such streams to trespass inevitably follows. Agencies, when confronted with the low-grade sport and ethics involved, generally can counter only that they are dependent upon license revenues and such programs "sell licenses." There would appear to be many solutions to such a dilemma. The extreme view of some noted analysts is that the hatchery product should be slaughtered, pre-packaged, and sold directly to the consumer through strategically-located vending machines. Vicious though the foregoing is, hidden in it is a gem of logic. Put-and-take trout fishing in its ultimate form is a sociological marketing and production problem. It is, therefore, more dependent upon economics and the wishes of people than biology. With this in mind, why couldn't public sentiment be assessed as to plans for this type of angling? Sampling methods of proven accuracy are available. Almost all other industries conduct such polls to gauge production. Certainly enough is known about trout management to provide satisfactory angling providing the means are made available. At this point the reader is perhaps wondering "What plans?" and "What is the matter with things as they are?" The section started off to tell how stocking quotas are figured, missed the mark and went on to describe the evils of a limited supply of trout in relation to demand. The reason for this is that in a put-and-take trout fisheries the number of trout a stream receives is dependent upon the total supply, whereas the number it could or should receive is limitless. Dad 'has a plan when he tells Junior he can have a nickel for candy and no more. Dad is well aware that Junior is not dependent upon the candy for his nourishment. He could have given him a lot more money for candy but figures it is better spent on essentials of food, lodging, and education that will be of more benefit in the long pull. Fisheries management today is either at or very close to the crossroads with regard to many vital decisions affecting future fishing opportunities. There is an urgent need for access to both streams and ponds. Increased warmwater research and management is a must if current and future generations are to realize full benefits from our most important natural endowmerbt. These are but a few of the more pressing needs. They require 51
Although it is known that a certain amount of truck following and subsequent "meat-fishing" results from inseason stocking, it is not believed that posting of stream areas following stocking is the answer to the problem. money. Money spent on stocking trout for put-and-take fishing is like what Junior spends on candy. While enjoyable at the time, it contributes little to the long-range wise use of renewable resources, even possibly adding a little to their decay. So that is why a plan is needed and why things can't be left as they are. Far from eliminating put-and-take trout fishing, the purpose of such a plan would be to give a little more rhyme and reason to the put-and-take program. Admittedly, put-and-take trout fishing is expensive, but it is justifiable as long as the sportsman knows what the bill is and is willing to pay it. Naturally this is contingent upon sportsmen who are fully informed on the "trout problem," a situation not often encountered. We have only touched upon one or two of the many solutions mentioned earlier to the hatchery trout problem. However, we have not given a full explanation of how stocking quotas for streams are arrived at. For over 50 years, the sizes, numbers, and species of trout stocked in streams was pretty much at the discretion of the local conservation officers within the framework of availability. Streams surveys were made by a few biologists during this period, but invariably they accepted the warden's recommendations of what should be stocked. Standards between officers for their recommendations varied, and only token attempts were ever made to refine and define the basis for the stocking statewide. In the early 1950's the conservation officers were relieved of assisting in the distribution of the hatchery product. The Division of Fisheries and Game took over the entire responsibility. Currently, some 483 small brooks to large rivers are stocked. The quotas that go into these streams are determined by a hodgepodge knowledge; old and new chemical, physical and biological data, accessibility, fishing pressure, and a thousand-and-one other 52
considerations within the framework of species and sizes available. There
are many inequities. The fact that all the factors affecting quotas are in
a constant state of flux virtually assures such errors. Nevertheless, it is
believed to result in the most equitable distribution possible under prevail-
and means.
Nevertheless, there is a crying need that such a system, if it can be
called that, be completely revamped. Standardized yardsticks for the
state as a whole are called for. Trout allotments for ponds, long the orphan
of the hatchery program, suffer from no such handicap as they are figured
on a biological basis.
Effects of stocking on native trout: A great many of the smaller brooks support fair-to-good native populations of brook and brown trout. These are capable of supplying satisfactory fishing to a limited number of anglers. Concern has been expressed over the possibility that stocking is detrimental to such native populations by making them more vulnerable to angler exploitation. The alternative has been suggested that hatchery plantings may act as a buffer thereby reducing exploitation of the wild stock. It also has been suggested that continued stocking of easily-caught hatchery fish may increase the percentage of inexpert anglers who experience great difficulty in catching even one wild fish. Apparently there is some truth in all three points of view. Creel checks of many of these smaller streams indicate that stocking spoils the quality of wild brook trout fishing previously enjoyed by but a few anglers. It works this way. With or without stocking, the crop of harvestable wild brook trout remains relatively constant from year-toyear. With stocking, crowds of anglers descend upon the stream. This pressure quickly crops the supply of available wild trout, even though each individual catch may account for but a small percentage of the wild trout take. A point of diminishing returns is reached when the hatchery fish are sufficiently depleted to depress fishing enthusiasm. This comes but a few days or weeks after the season opens. The stream, adorned with a fresh supply of empty worm cans and other rubbish, is given back to nature for another year. Under conditions of no stocking, the natives are leisurely cropped throughout the season by the occasional angler preferring scenery undisturbed by milling crowds of eager-eyed anglers. The situation on stocked streams supporting wild brown trout is diametrically the opposite. The crowds come and go with only little change to the wily inhabitants. As far as the question of increasing the ranks of a "dubbers army" is concerned, the reader can draw his own conclusions. Any decision not to stock such streams immediately poses the problem of subtracting from the total fishing waters the public will disperse to, thereby aggravating crowding on remaining areas stocked. It also brings up the objective of furnishing the most fishing for the most people over the longest period of time at the lowest possible cost. Without stocking, a stream might conceivably supply 1,000 ·hours of angling resulting in a catch of 500 native trout for, say, 20 different an-
glers annually. Stocked with 3,000 hatchery fish, it might provide 5,000 ·hours of angling and a catch of 500 native fish and 1,500 stockies to 2,500 different anglers. The latter, in comparison to the former, costs money and provides poorer quality sport, yet provides a greater measure of fishing, both in terms of total hours and different individuals benefitting. Obviously neither approach wholly satisfies the criteria "of furnishing the most fishing possible for the most people over the longest period of time at the lowest cost." Nevertheless, judicious use of both the biological as well as the sociological approach, singly or in combination, depending on and varying with the specific situation, is called for in attempting to satisfy the goals stated. Species emphasis: Brook trout have been considered as yielding the highest returns, followed in order by rainbow and brown trout. There is little doubt that the three species exhibit differences in behavior which affect their catchability. It is doubtful, however, whether this is as significant as once thought with regard to hatchery trout (Table 1). Brown trout furnish the most sustained fishing throughout the season. Brook trout are notorious for supplying fishing for a few days only after stocking or following opening day. Rainbows generally are slow starters, and climb to a peak take in May and June coincident with the heavy insect hatches of this period. Because of this and their acrobatic nature the species is held in high regard by the fly fisherman. Rainbows are the most migratory of the three trout, due to hopeless inter-mixing of strains of sea-run steelhead and non-migratory rainbows in past propagation efforts. Brown trout carry-over the best. These known differences between species are used in balancing stocking quotas in partially circumventing a little of the weaknesses of the program. For example, small brooks are limited to brook trout where fishing pressure is largely an opening weekend affair. Rainbows are often stocked above stream areas inaccessible to the hatchery truck to take advantage of their demonstrated prowess to move downstream. Varying components of all three are stocked in principal rivers to satisfy the one-shot opening day angler, as well as the fellow who fishes all season. Restricting inseason stocking to browns and rainbows helps in reducing criticisms relative to "meat-market" fishing. To date, it has not always been possible to carry out such balancing, due to various cultural problems associated with the different species. Ultimately, it should be possible to have annual catchable production consist of about 45 percent brook trout, 45 percent brown trout, and 10 percent rainbow trout. With such a species mixture the varying demands of the angling public could be better met by taking advantage of their differing behavior. Quality goals: Currently, foggy or wishful thinking prevails between the qualities that should and can be developed in hatchery trout. Propagation authorities are bent on artificially cultivating a superior stock of hatchery fish comparable to or superseding wild trout for survival, edibility, appearance, and sporting qualities. While no one can discredit the 54
_ desirability of striving for such goals, or the goals themselves, they are to a very large extent incompatible in an efficient put-and-take trout fishery. Perhaps "Duz does everything," but the 100 percent perfect all-round hunting dog, combined beef and milk cow, or family automobile, is yet to appear. The same is true of trout. The very necessary and desirable characteristics bred into and required of mass-produced trout that allows for temporarily setting aside "survival of the fittest" in the hatchery are the same characteristics working against them when they are planted in the wild. We are just kidding ourselves when we believe that we can develop a trout equally at home in the hatehery or the wild at a reasonable cost. Hatchery trout, admittedly, originally all stemmed from wild stock. But generations of selective breeding and domesticity have worked their ways. These changes are perhaps best illustrated by "old rover" cuddled next to the hearth. He bears little resemblance to the fang-toothed wolf of prehistoric times, his early ancestor. Offspring from wild parents, when brought into the hatchery, feed poorly, grow more slowly and develop maladies not found in the regular tenants. For instance, they are more easily frightened. The possible value of this inherent wildness in increasing survival in nature is undoubtedly great. Fingerlings hatched from domesticated parents can be trained to hide from simulated predators by associating a fast-moving object with a mild electrical shock. They also can be taught to avoid schooling and striking a food floating on the water by similar treatment, and can be raised in strong currents to condition them for coping with running waters when stocked. Why can't hatchery practices then be modified to produce fish whose behavior more closely approximates that of wild trout? They can, but only at prohibitive cost. The examples cited involved small numbers of experimental trout. To follow suit on a mass production basis would require vastly expanded facilities, especially water, handling, and care. Some of the differences of direct interest to anglers would appear less fraught with conflict. Wild trout are generally purported to possess better fighting qualities, color, and flavor than their hatchery kin. Although 55
many factors other than how they came to be might affect these traits, there can be little doubt that there is some truth in such opinion. However, there likewise can be little doubt that recent advances in feeding hatchery trout have diminished the gulf between the two categories. Taste panels have failed in distinguishing flavor differences. Coloring substances added to the food have successfully produced the deep salmon color that old timers use as a hallmark in labeling a "native." But, even the latter innovation must be judged on the basis of economics. Generations of anglers are already present and many more are on the way who have never seen a wild trout for comparison. Coloring of trout costs about one cent per pound of trout, a seemingly inexpensive proposition. But, total annual production in this state runs about 300,000 or more pounds. It would, therefore, cost 3,000 dollars to make "natives" out of this output. Such a sum will buy several miles of stream, or even 6,000 additional trout weighing one-half pound each ! Differences in behavior, in anatomy, in chemical composition, and in genetics, could possibly be adjusted for, at least in part. But the advantages must be weighed against the costs and goals of the program. Would those alternatives mentioned solve the basic problems completely? Undoubtedly not ! For instance, light and gravel cover during egg development has been found to directly influence many characteristics of the small trout, including growth and survival. Should we abandon conventional hatching methods and attempt to substitute some unknown, cumbersome system of gravel? The overriding question here is not one of attempting to do what nature has found impossible, but to do as nature does. How to stock: Concentrations of anglers brought about by put-andtake stocking has been decried by many. Limit catches (and more) are frequently reported if the angler happens to be in the right spot at the right time. Most of the fish planted are purportedly taken in a short period by a few anglers. Anglers frequently advocate greater scattering of the trout over the entire stream. Supposedly this serves to spread the fishing among more anglers and over a greater period of time. While commendable in theory and established working procedure, within the confines of existing access to streams, there is not much evidence that the goals of spreading the fish among more individual anglers or over more fishing days is achieved. When fish are planted out of reach of the average angler, for instance, away from bridge crossings, the result is more fish for the experts and fewer for the novice. It likewise means a reduction in the fraction of the planting recovered. Another method used to distribute the catch among more fishermen is the practice of scattering in time rather than in space. In other words, make frequent open-season stockings of small numbers of fish in the same stream. However, there are practical disadvantages involved in distribution and transportation and in maintaining sufficient angler interest to fully utilize small and frequent plantings. This is particularly true with regard to the hundreds of small brooks lacing the state which take the brunt of 56
the angling pressures only during the first few weeks of the season. Collectively, such streams account for the great bulk of trout stocked. Average individual allotments per stream are too small to warrant piece-meal apportionment due to boom-and-bust type angler utilization of such water areas and the added expense that would be incurred in such distribution. What then is the best way of handling the hatchery product so that as many anglers as possible, both expert and novice, will get a fair crack at it? What works in one situation may very well not be applicable in another. One fact of the matter that should not be overlooked is that regardless of the approach, not all anglers will be satisfied. The objective of the Bay State stocking program is to provide the best fishing possible for the largest number of anglers over the longest period of time. It is not to provide trout to supplement the daily larder or to provide an equal guaranteed return of table meat for the license investment. Its objective is the most recreational fishing possible, both in relation to time and water areas. As such, whenever time, terrain, and weather permits, trout are distributed as widely as possible throughout the stream's length. This does not mean a trout is placed in each pool, pocket, and riffle. Trout are stocked at as many road crossings and other access points as possible so as to attempt to get some trout planted for at least every one-quarter mile of stream length. Normally, early plants of this type disperse and populate the unstocked downstream sections well. Of course, posting, character of the stream, and the kind of country through which it flows have a lot to do with the realization of these goals. Sometimes streams are only accessible at or near their headwaters, leaving several miles of downstream water unavailable to the hatchery truck. In situations such as this, it is often possible to stock the upper reaches of the stream one to three weeks before the season opens with the expectation that the trout will move downstream throughout the unstocked area before the season opens. Early in the development of put-and-take stocking programs, the idea was accepted that rainbow trout were migratory, that brook and brown trout were not, and that stocking programs should be set up accordingly. Recent studies in other states have shown that this idea does not always hold. When non-migratory strains are used, all three species of hatchery trout planted in a stream usually remain close to where stocked. However, it is very difficult at times to determine whether the particular hatchery strain of trout stocked is "migratory" or "non-migratory," and often a few individuals of an apparent non-migratory strain will undertake long journeys. Observations here implicate "our rainbow strain" as being migratory and that both our brown and brook trout often exhibit the same tendency if stocked in the snow-melt water of March and early April. We are not dealing with a powerful migratory instinct such as exhibited by salmon or shad but rather a movement initiated by specific conditions of the environment at the time of stocking. Low water temperatures and heavy stream flows prevailing in March and April bear a strong relation to such 57
ll spring nighttime sucker
spearing is to ever again
become a popular pastime
In this state, the sport will
have to be legalized dur-
ing the general closed sea-
son in March and April.
movement. Extensive tagging studies indicate the bulk of movement is downstream in direction and represents more "drift" with the current rather than an intentional migration. This tendency is reflected in that most trout are recovered below the point of introduction, within a one mile distance. Invariably, in any batch of trout, some fish will be found to have traveled further, up to several miles, and occasionally a few fish, particularly brook trout, will run upstream or up tributary streams short distances. Conversely, plants made in the open season coincident with lowered flows do not show any marked inclination to disperse and populate the stream like plants made earlier. Admittedly, the time factor alone between stocking and possible harvest virtually rules out appreciable movement. Still what movement does occur is largely downstream, thus again implicating current as a factor in the phenomenon previously mentioned. Because of such results, every attempt is and should be made to scatter the trout over the entire stream, preferably wherever possible in each and every pool, pocket and riffle. Sometimes this has been expedited by use of boats. It should not be inferred that frequent inseason scatter-plants in time and space are the whole answer to the problem of how to stock the hatchery product. Not being able to hold large stocks of catchables at the hatchery while making room for the developing crop of next year's trout, limitations of manpower and equipment in expediting such exacting handling, and the short season extending from late April to not later than June 15 during which it is possible to transport and stock trout in streams without loss due to warm weather and water sharply limit the use of such a procedure. These practical considerations dictate that inseason stocking be limited to but a few of the principal streams. Many of the gripes stemming from put-and-take trout fishing originate due to "meat-market" atmospheres. Invariably this gets back to how the trout were stocked, regardless of how well or how poorly. As has been explained, much of what happens is unavoidable, regardless of the method of stocking. Still, this should not relieve us of the obligation of attempting 58
to find techniques of circumventing these shortcomings. It has recently been proposed by some agencies that trout should be fed just prior to release so as to avoid the alleged "slaughter" that follows inseason plants subject to truck following. Allegedly, trout fed the self-sustaining dry pelleted food developed in recent years are not lost in transport as was the case with the old wet feeds. Whether this contention has merit in spreading the fishing in time is not known now. However, if it did, it possibly would constitute a step in the right direction. What we need is a niajor breakthrough in technology in moving large quantities of catchable size trout quickly and cheaply throughout a stream. Possibly the helicopter represents such an innovation. Currently, the tremendous expense incurred in initial outlay coupled with the limited pay loads, in relation to the water requiredfor moving trout, negates the use of this twentieth century machine. Informing the customer: Perhaps no aspect of a put-and-take trout program is as innocuous appearing but fraught with more pitfalls than keeping the public informed as to where the trout have been planted. One school of thought would distribute the fish by "moonlight" and attempt to keep the locations secret. The other philosophy would publicize each and every plant, giving species, sizes, and number, via all media of newspapers, radio, and television. To solve this problem the Division currently publishes an annual list of 'stocked waters. This is fine as far as it goes. Its major shortcoming is that the average angler encounters difficulties in locating stocked streams outside his immediate locality. This is particularly true of city anglers, who maintain that local anglers have the upper hand in learning about stockings and "cleaning them out" before they have a chance to locate them. A statewide map to supplement the current stocking list in guiding anglers would seem a partial solution to this problem. Some anglers voice objection to the current listing of stocked waters in that it does not give numbers and sizes of fish involved. This is consistent with the preferred status of trout fishing as a sport and not as a An example of the before and after effects of properly fencing a stream to prevent bank trampling by cattle and the installation of a deflector to create a run and hole for trout where none existed before.
give-away program. What is overlooked is that even if the listing of numbers and sizes were desirable, the job would be virtually impossible. These lists must be printed well in advance of the season when stocking allotments are far from finalized due to the vagaries of production schedules at the hatcheries, weather, changing access, and a host of other factors. Then we have the special interest group who want to be notified of shipments to particular waters so that they can help. In theory this is fine. In practice, it is a mixed blessing Many sportsmen are energetic workers and another hand is always welcomed in putting out the trout. But there are always those motivated by personal gain--in this case knowledge of just where the trout were planted. Too, notification can mushroom into a major problem. Many groups, sometimes suspicious of one another, can all demand equal treatment. Then there is the question of time and place of meeting. This, too, while seemingly simple, multiplies the headache. There are many instances where a hatchery truck has fruitlessly wasted hours at a rendezvous because somebody just plain forgot or got their signals mixed. There is little point in belaboring the problem further. There is no real solution, nor end to its ramifications. Ideally, the public should have sufficient confidence in its employees to allow them to do the job for which they are hired. Then, if the "sportsman" is a sportsman and wants to tag along and help, fine! -- Access A Place to Fish It almost goes without saying that put-and-take trout fishing requires vast amounts of real estate as well as trout. It bears repeating since sportsmen are prone to overlook this fact when it comes to an accounting of what a license buys. Roughly the state stocks about 2,500 miles of streams that are deemed accessible to the public. There are many other miles of streams too small to warrant stocking that fall in the same category. Perhaps 90 percent or more of this total is private property, which could be closed off to trespass on a moment's notice. An indifferent sort of atmosphere exists between owners and users of this land, possibly accounting for such an open door policy. The land is oftentimes of low value. The interloper's invasion occurs early in the spring, usually in miserable weather, when more sane individuals are not yet stirring after the dreary winter. Of course, there are many other miles of streams which are purposely posted to keep anglers out and which are not stocked. The remaining 10 percent consists of state, federal, and private lands, under lease, where access is reasonably assured now and in the future. Less than 3 miles of streams are owned by the Division of Fisheries and Game exclusively for trout fishing. Just why finding a place to fish on streams has not caused more angler concern in Massachusetts as compared to that reported from other areas of the country is something that can be debated long and hard. Of course, some claim that it has, and this is true in some instances. On the whole, 60
however, it would appear that the Bay State angler has been lulled into a sense of complacency--for any of a dozen reasons you may choose-- in that he has some sort of an inalienable right to fish streams that run through the property of others. Except in the case of navigable rivers, such as the Merrimack and Connecticut, this is just not true. The angling public has no more right to their neighbor's land for fishing than to garage their car in his barn. Angler frustration in finding a place to fish can be expected to increase. License sales continue to spiral upward whereas available fishing areas continue to shrink due to the human demand for more water for domestic, industrial, agricultural, and recreational use. How to maintain current levels of access to streams, let alone increase what we have, is a problem not easily solved. Insofar as the Division is wedded to the current put-and-take trout fisheries, it would only seem right that a percentage of the monies allotted to this program be spent for purchase and lease of fishing areas. Ten percent of the annual propagation budget, or roughly $30,000 annually, would not seem an exorbitant minimum. In no way would this solve the problem. It would, however, allow for the continuation of our modest leasing program and allow for the purchase of some of the more choice stream sites. Coincidental with the foregoing, sportsmen's clubs could play a major role in tying down future access. There are about 400 sportsmen's clubs statewide. If each were to purchase one stream or the fishing rights to same and keep it open to the public, think of the progress that could be made in one grand sweep. Of course, one club couldn't be expected to do this on a big stream 40 miles long, but the possibilities are present relative to the numerous smaller brooks. And it is these smaller streams that are the more threatened with ultimate closure. The larger streams are fortunately more immune to development and posting, because of their size and the usual presence of flood plains and paralleling public roads. This likewise brings to light the salvation inherent in proper zoning of lands. Certainly, flood plains should be zoned to exclude any .form of private capital improvements. It is undeniably true that many landowners will cooperate with fishermen provided courtesy and appropriate regard for the integrity of private property is shown. However, it is improbable that we can continue to rely for long on such 'hospitality. Encroachment has reached the breaking point as evidenced in the increase in no-trespassing signs. The occasional beer can and sandwich wrapper left behind by the angler ·have been replaced by virtually a smaller edition of the city dump. The suburbanite has replaced the farmer in the sportsman-landowner equation. The suburbanite is less tolerant of trespassers in that he often lives where he does to get away from the lack of backyard privacy that characterizes city life. Any fair-minded person is sympathetic with such a landowner who is subjected to acts of rowdyism or vandalism and seals off his property as a result. 61
Stream improvement showing the effects of fencing to prevent bank trampling by cattle, rock rip-rapping to stabilize eroding banks, and channel narrowing. While this involves a problem of conduct, it also implicates that "American-style" angling as we know it is incompatible with too many people. The angler can do much to police his ranks of the irresponsible minority responsible for much ·of the loss of fishing privileges. Frank appraisal of the "population problem" can stay the day when he would have to hang up his rod for want of a place to fish. The golfer or the tennis player do not demand that government furnish them with course and court. Both exist nonetheless. The only place one finds something for nothing is in fairy tales. Regulations The philosophy of regulations has undergone widespread change in recent years. For the most part, they have been liberalized in keeping with the following: (1) Regulations are imposed to provide a maximum number of fishing trips without injury to future angling, and to provide a fair distribution of the fish resources. (2) Regulations should be imposed only when the need for them has been demonstrated; they should be retained only as long as they serve the desired purpose. The owners of the fish (the public) should be permitted to use this resource which is theirs to the fullest possible extent. In the past, emphasis has been on regulating the fisherman. Invariably, expected results have failed to materialize. Advocates have not become dismayed and continued to emphasize control of the human element while ignoring the base fishery resource. We are realizing more and more that the latter is of more significance, although admittedly also the more difficult to control. Open seasons: Debates among anglers on what constitutes an ideal trout season run the gamut up to and including proposals for a yearround open season. The present season runs from the third Saturday in April 62
to the third Saturday in October. There is a special extended season in "two-story" (non-reclaimed) trout ponds from the third Sunday in October to the last day of February. This ten-month season was recommended by biologists and approved at open meetings by sportsmen. It agrees 100 percent with the two fundamental concepts of regulations just discussed. There is little biological argument against the proposal for a yearround open season on streams. There are, however, some definite psychological and practical viewpoints for a closed season. First, a respite is needed to allow for stocking trout, thus permitting all anglers an equal chance at the stocked fish on a specific date. Second, most anglers have insufficient time to determine when angling is most likely to be successful. Vacations and other periods of leisure are short. Anglers need and rightfully expect assistance on these matters. When spring fishing for warmwater fishes was instituted on the famed Tennessee Valley waters, it soon became necessary to establish a guide to anglers as to when they could expect success in angling. Otherwise, anglers wasted their precious time fruitlessly in the presence of abundant game fish because the water was too cold for activity of fishes involved. The same thing can be pretty well demonstrated to occur with respect to our current early opening. Therefore, suggestions for a continuous open season for trout with no opening day appears impractical. Opening day has become a tradition-steeped ritual with many thousands of anglers. It is a target date around which hosts of plans are built. As such, it should be perpetuated. However, there is a pressing need for moving the current opening date of the third Saturday in April to the last Saturday in April. Reasons for this center on allowing stocking crews sufficient time to make an equitable distribution of the annual 'hatchery product statewide previous to the season, and at the same time take advantage of more optimum conditions for catching trout prevailing at the later date. 63
As things now generally work out, not all streams are stocked and the streams are high, roily and cold for the big turnout on opening day. Delaying the opening until the last Saturday in April would largely overcome these handicaps without reducing the optimum but limited period of May and June available for stream trout fishing. It would be of primary benefit to our casual class of anglers who only get out on opening day, or at the most, a few times early in the season. This measure would likewise be of value in many trout ponds in that ice-out would coincide with the last Saturday in April. Proposals for a shorter fall season continue to crop up. The season was extended from July 31st to the third Saturday in October several years ago. This was done so that the public might better avail itself of the trout resource recreational-wise. The extension has been very popular, although the turnout in the fall has been small compared to the spring. In no way has it encroached upon the amount of carryover fish or natural reproduction available the following year. Why you can have your cake and eat it too in this instance has been touched on in previous sections. Carryover of hatchery trout is small at best. What few do manage to survive until the fall months are invariably largely lost over the winter anyway. Native brook trout are extremely short-lived, and as a result, it is impossible to stockpile any appreciable number of the larger specimens remaining by fall to the following season. Spawning success of trout is not measured by the number of eggs that are laid. What is important is the percentage of eggs that hatch and survive to adult size. Survival is largely regulated by living space, food, and other environmental factors. Even under fishing intensities severalfold that of the present time, enough mature fish would remain for proper reseeding of the limited habitat available. It is immaterial whether a few hundred trout lay a million eggs or only a pair lay a thousand in a brook that has a potential for supporting fewer than 100 adult fish. The hundred or less will be the end result in either case--and no more. A shorter fall season, therefore, contrary to providing more trout to the angler, would have just the opposite effect. It was mentioned earlier that there was no biological necessity for a closed season whatsoever, so why the third Saturday in October closing date? This was done to coincide with the general trout season on ponds, which does in some cases involve biological consideration. Most sportsmen will agree that it is highly desirable to have uniform and easily interpreted regulations. Bag limit: The purpose of bag limits is to spread out the catch, either among more people or over a longer period of time. It has been mentioned repeatedly that most trout taken are the product of artificial propagation. One daily bag limit of 12 fish from streams cost severalfold that of a fishing license. Obviously the small minority of anglers who catch several hundred trout each in the course of a season do so at the expense of the majority of anglers. It would seem that a lower bag limit is definitely desirable. This would be more in keeping with actual dollar contributions 64
of anglers to their recreation, and with the preferred status of trout fishing as a sport. Sportsmen have entertained many proposals on reducing the daily bag over the years. The best of these embodied the provision of reducing the daily bag from 12 to 6 fish, coinciding with pond regulations, from opening day through the 31st (Memorial Day holiday), after which allow the present daily bag limit of 12 fish to prevail. Such a regulation would be of definite value in spreading the fishing out in time and avoiding some of the "meat-market" fishing that occurs early in the season following inseason plants. Likewise it would allow for a maximum return on relatively expensive-size hatchery trout before that period of high summer water temperatures when most fish not caught are lost. It would have the disadvantage of temporarily penalizing the small brook fishermen. The alder-run worm-dunkers generally make up in numbers for what their catches lack in size. Twelve six-inch brook trout is not an unreasonable daily bag when one realizes that such a catch weighs only a little over one pound. The chances of taking 12 of the much larger hatchery trout after the 31st of May is remote. "Fish for fun" proposals where the keeping of any trout is prohibited or at the most one trophy fish, as generally envisioned would not seem to have much merit for Massachusetts stream condition's. The idea which is purported to have been most successful in Pennsylvania and North Carolina is to set aside sections or whole streams for fly fishing, thereby allowing trout to be caught over and over. Thus far, the scheme has only been tried in streams providing appreciable carryover and natural reproduction. It 'has been reported that the average angler can catch up to 20 to 30 trout per hour in such waters. While highly commendable in objective, it is doubtful that comparable results could be achieved in this state. Here, most trout originate from a hatchery and, if not caught prior to the summer months, succumb to heat prostration. However, there can be little argument that such a scheme wouldn't provide more sport from the hatchery product during the springtime period when our streams will support trout. Minimum legal length: In the past, increasingly stringent size regulations were believed to be the solution to the problem of decreasing supply. One pillar of this conception was that trout must be protected until they could spawn at least once. Where water conditions permit effective contribution to the creel of naturally-spawned trout, this may or may not be good logic. It is logical only if the rate of harvest is sufficiently high to deplete natural populations below their capacity to replace those trout lost annually through angling and natural mortality. However, it does not appear to have been demonstrated very often, if at all. Where such depletion has occurred, it may be attributable, in many cases, to other causes. Massachusetts provides little habitat suitable for trout reproduction and survival to adult size. On the larger streams that warm excessively, reproduction may occur but survival is negligible. Exceptions are found in small, cold, tributary streams throughout the state. Here, the former 65
A stream typical of dairying areas of this state that could be improved for trout by proper fencing of cattle and streambank plantings to eliminate erosion and excessive water temperatures. six inch minimum size limit protected overabundant populations of small trout. Only a small percentage ever reached legal size due to overcrowding. The rest were largely lost to the angler through old age or hooking mortality. There is no biological justification for imposing a minimum legal length under these conditions. Closed breeder streams: Anglers in the past have favored closing 'headwater brooks as breeder or refuge areas to improve fishing. In theory the spawners are protected from fishing while the surplus trout move downstream to be caught by the angler. While the argument for the proposal sounds all very well, it just doesn't work. New Hampshire has demonstrated that brook trout maintain separate and discreet populations in tributaries and main streams. In other words, brook trout populations hatch, live, and die in the tributaries without contributing to main stream areas. Wisconsin experience has been similar. In Massachusetts, such so-called nursery streams were tried in the 1930's and failed in realizing anticipated results. The story has been the same elsewhere, hence there is little point belaboring such a discredited proposal. 66
Closing waters after stocking: The question is often raised as to the value of closing for a short period, or permanently, areas of streams that receive an inseason stocking of trout. Although it is known that a certain amount of truck following and subsequent "meat-fishing" results from inseason stocking, it is not believed that posting of stream areas is the answer to the problem. Theoretically, a short closure following stocking would allow hatchery trout time to adjust to their new environment and to become less vulnerable to anglers, with a resulting improvement in angling over the length of the season. But available factual information indicates that a month or more is required for a transplanted trout to adjust fully to a new environment, even if it is a wild fish, and that a two- or three-day closed period is of little benefit. Permanently closed stocking or refuge areas likewise have been shown to be unsuccessful in prolonging angling. Trout planted in such areas have invariably stayed put and have not dispersed gradually to open water as anticipated. Vermont, along with a few other states, found that such procedure only succeeded in reducing the number of trout taken! California and Pennsylvania have both tested post-stocking closures. Their experience indicates that while "truck following" as such is eliminated, temporary closed areas aggravate the situation they are intended to correct, plus creating serious new problems. Streams were more crowded and the trout were taken out faster after the closure was lifted than was the case before the closures were applied. Private landowners objected to the procedure because each planting meant a new opening day. Nonlocal anglers objected because they made long trips to fish their favorite stream only to find that it would not be open to fishing for a day or more. There is a tendency for most persons to believe that anything wrong with the world can be changed by passing a law. Unfortunately, such is not the case. The effectiveness of any law depends upon the efficiency with which it is enforced and the sternness of judicial retribution. Both of these factors are major deterrents to poaching. The small staff of conservation officers could hardly police numerous, ill-defined, temporarily closed areas, and such a regulation would give habitual poachers a private fishing area at the expense of the majority of license holders. Legally the Division of Fisheries and Game could post only public fishing waters. In order to post any other stream the written permission of all riparian owners in that section would have to be obtained. This might or might not be obtained. If it could not, however, the Division would find itself with two disagreeable choices. It must either stock the stream in violation of its own regulation, or reduce the recreational usage of the area in question by a cessation of stocking. Last, but not least, it would be physically impossible for the present fisheries staff of three men in each district to coordinate and execute the posting, and the subsequent removal of such posters, and still maintain their other duties at a time when fisheries work is at its spring peak. 67
Flyfishing-only areas: Certain restrictions on types of bait used for trout fishing have been imposed for the purpose of reducing the angling mortality of undersized fish in native populations. This appears to be a worthwhile management procedure in some cases involving rapidly-growing brook trout. There appears to be no particular value in this type of management for either brown or rainbow trout, or for slow-growing brook trout like those found in most Massachusetts streams. To be justified, such restrictions for planted trout where growth and carryover is inconsequential, must be reconciled with returning the fish to the water alive after capture so that they will provide "sport again and again." To accomplish this, keeping trout must virtually be abolished. To argue that a flyfishingonly restriction automatically accomplishes this same objective is to ignore the gist of factual information on this controversial subject. By and large, flyfishing is just as effective, if not more so, as the rest of the disciplines of the gentle art in depleting trout stocks. In the past, the reverse side of the argument was expounded in catering to the flyfishing contingent of anglers by setting aside flyfishing-only waters. The trend, both here and in other states, has been to do away with such discriminatory regulations in that they did not serve a real purpose in making fishing better for the majority of anglers. Special trout license: More money is spent to produce trout fishing than all other kinds combined. Yet in Massachusetts it is decidedly a minority interest compared to warmwater fishing. Obviously, trout fishing is largely financed by the warmwater angler. It is likewise true that the warmwater angler and the trout angler are one and the same to a large extent. Nonetheless, thousands of non-trout anglers interested in but a mess or two of "hornpout" are required to shoulder a significant share of the constantly increasing cost of the trout program. There is need for a change. There is some evidence that this goose which lays part of the 68
golden egg for the trout angler is being taxed to death for what little he gets out of his license contribution. Of much more importance, the present financing of the trout program conflicts with basic principles of majority interest and available resources. With the foregoing in mind, several states require trout stamps. These are special trout fishing permits that must be bought for the privilege of trouting in addition to the regular license. Stamp funds, plus the prorated share of regular license revenues indicated by stamp sales, are earmarked for financing the trout program. A one-dollar trout stamp has been most often discussed in sportsmen's circles here. Realistic appraisal indicates that a trout stamp would have to cost a minimum of two dollars. That is, if current trout quality is to be sustained without continuing to penalize other phases of fish conservation. It would not allow for any significant expansion of the current trout program. In the past, the writer has called attention to a trout stamp for youngsters 12 to 15 years of age, in addition to one for adults. As things now stand, no license of any kind is required of a person under 15 years of age, yet this group accounts for a significant portion of the annual hatchery production. In some areas, juvenile anglers outnumber adults ten to one, and spend more time fishing. The previous suggestion that these nonpaying trout consumers be made responsible for their sport sparked some protests from adult anglers in that it was un-apple pie, un-American, and what have you. This writer can only bow to these accusations and their humanitarian motivations. It has been repeatedly mentioned that the quality of trout fishing in this state is pretty well geared to the wherewithal of available funds. Going prices have been reduced to rock bottom through the application of research findings. There are no shortcuts or bargains where 12 loaves can be made from one. If you want better trout fishing than that currently available, you will have to pay for it. It is merely soul-saving to hark back to what trout fishing used to be--something for nothing. It just isn't anymore, and we can grit our teeth, lament the past, but it will do no good. Producing trout fishing costs money and if it is to be satisfying fishing, lots of money ! And it really doesn't make any difference where the money comes from except in how it affects the underlying values the sport generates, especially in the young. Most parents try to instill in their children a sense of thrift and appreciation for money by having them do chores for their weekly allowances. Youth's upbringing is studded with phrases like--"each generation must win liberty anew, something of value is never a gift, etc." These are themes directed toward developing stalwart, appreciative, hardworking Americans for tomorrow's challenges. To this writer, at least, denying the youth of today the opportunity to share in the responsibility for their trout fishing may in the long run be a grave disservice to these future stewards of conservation. The danger lies in that they may come to look 69
upon all natural resources as something for nothing, something like giveaway trout fishing, to "git" while the "gitting" is good. Other regulations: In streams stocked with trout, the bag, size, and seasonal restrictions should be abolished on all other species, except to honor the general closed season. Perhaps an exception should be made with regard to the latter relative to spearing suckers in March and April. This exception is required if spearing of spawning sucker runs is to ever again become a popular pastime in this state. While it is doubtful, based on present angler preferences, that the foregoing liberalization would measurably increase the utilization of the littleused pan, game, and trash found in streams it would constitute a step in ·the right direction. This is in keeping with the principle that regulations should only be imposed where a demonstrated need exists, and the public should be permitted to use such fish resources to the fullest possible extent, no matter how little or how great. Habitat Improvement--Giving Nature a Hand Habitat improvement can be likened to restoring the capacity of a 10quart water pail that has been run over by a truck. In its crushed and battered form little, if anything, can be carried in it. If, however, it is reshaped and mended, it will hold 10 quarts of water, berries, or sand. And the same is true of streams. The extensive destruction of stream habitat calls for remodeling water areas so that they can hold more trout. The real problem is one of good land use. Because of this, watershed improvement measures producing tangible results of a significant magnitude are outside the scope of fisheries work as such. Watershed improvement possibilities in Massachusetts are further complicated in that the Division of Fisheries and Game cannot exercise trespass control on streams except on limited public fishing areas and is therefore not justified in spending funds on the improvement of lands and waters from which the general public is or can be excluded. Furthermore, inexpensive medicines for all the ills of the land are not available. Techniques and management measures applicable to one situation may not fit another. Stream improvement structures: Crib dams, deflectors, and other types of stream improvement structures are only called for in specific situations. Where we have heavy siltation because of poor farming, improper forest-use, over-grazing, or faulty road building, and where we have excessive run-off, resulting in high waters at times and little or no flow at other times, the use of stream improvement structures is of little or no value. They fail because they do not correct the basic problem. This is particularly true regarding excessive water temperatures. Before installing such devices the situation should preferably be studied by someone familiar with fish needs, water-flows and siltation problems. From the outset it should be realized that such structures are expensive. Initial installation outlay is high and a large amount of subsequent main- 70
tenance is required. If flooding is extreme, they should not be considered at all because in all probability they will be quickly washed-out. We are not trying to minimize the value of stream improvement devices. There are numerous instances where such structures are helpful--in narrowing too wide stream channels, protecting denuded banks, creating pools where none exist. We are implying, however, that where such devices seem to be needed, the basic trouble usually lies in the watershed, not in the stream bed itself. Water storage reservoirs and ponds: There are many angles to be considered in the damming of any watercourse as a means of improving the habitat for trout. There is little argument that the first requisite of trout is water and that the impoundment of streams whether it be by milltype dams, resulting in small ponds or even marshes, 'huge Corps of Engineer flood control structures, or beaver dams does provide more water. Whether this added water is available when needed most and is suitably cool depends upon the specific impoundment and where it is located. The intermittent flood control reservoirs, such as Knightville on the Westfield River and Birch Hill and Tully on the Millers River, built by the U. S. Corps of Army Engineers in the past have done little to correct for critically low summertime flows and high temperatures. These reservoirs were not originally engineered to handle peak flood loads and still allow for holding additional water for discharge during drought periods. As a result they must be kept empty to be ready to handle any emergency flooding situations that might arise. To suggest or follow any other operaional procedure would cancel out the reasons for which these reservoirs were built. Nevertheless, these temporary water retention areas have benefited the trout fisherman in two ways. First, they have helped halt further impairment of downstream habitat and mitigated some of the loss of newly- 71
stocked hatchery trout associated with excessive flooding. Second, they have provided the public places to fish. In the future it may be possible to modify water usage procedure in such reservoirs. This is predicated on the fact that current operational procedure is based upon "shotgun therapy." The reservoirs must be kept empty and ready for any eventuality because future weather is not predictable. However, with the great strides underway in rockets, satellites, and other scientific fields bearing on meteorology, in the not-so-distant future it may very well be possible to make extremely accurate long-range weather forecasts. When this becomes fact, winter to late spring run-off waiters could logically be stored according to the dictates of the predicted precipitation and be released when needed. The newer flood control reservoirs generally entail a provision for a so-called permanent conservation pool. If sufficiently large and deep such pools may have several fold the trout fishing potential of the original stream section they replace. Aside from their recreational potential in their own right, stored water taken from the bottom of such reservoirs could be expected to decrease temperatures in downstream areas as well as increase critical low flows. The wonderful trout fishing created below some impoundments in southern states offers testimony to the benefits derived from such construction. The renowned trout fishing of the White River in Arkansas is a case in point, as well as our own Swift River below Quabbin Reservoir. Most shallow reservoirs under ten or fifteen feet couldn't be expected to significantly reduce downstream temperatures and result in a phenomenal improvement in trout fishing. In fact, in many cases they may raise water temperatures. The same holds for similar type water storage possibilities involving small marsh and pond developments as well as beaver flowages. The concept of holding back some of the runoff in suitable basins when the streams are too high and releasing it gradually when the streams are low is nonetheless generally beneficial. As has been repeatedly pointed out, we must first have water if we are to have fish. This may seem like a stupid statement of fact. After all, Massachusetts is not a desert. It is one of the better-watered states in the Union. The point is well taken, however, if one will take the trouble to drive along some of our more renowned trout streams during a summer drought. Mile after mile of boulder-strewed stream channels with only a trickle of water greet the eye. This is a far cry from what the stream looked like when trout fishing fever ran high in April or May. So to begin with, we must have sufficient water for fish to live in, in the summer months as well as throughout the other seasons. Impoundments if properly constructed and manipulated, are capable of furnishing this needed water. The consideration as to whether they raise water temperatures excessively for trout survival is like two paupers deciding how they would spend a million dollars. To mean anything, you must first have the money or the required water to manipulate. But the problem is not as one-sided as it first appears. 72
An example of a simple check dam constructed of hogwire tied to steel fence posts which traps leaves and litter. The flow of a stream with a volume sufficient to cover the stream-bed will not warm up as quickly or as much if the flow is limited to a trickle percolating through and around sun-baked rocks and gravel. While excessively warm climatic conditions have been deliberately emphasized, we should not lose sight of the fact that our usual summertime climate alternates between hot and cool periods. Stream water temperatures follow these atmospheric conditions closely. During such periods, which are common and which occasionally persist for the greater portion of the summer months, temperatures even in the outflow of warmwater ponds will not exceed 70 to 74°F. In the streams themselves nighttime temperatures will go down to the high fifties. During these periods trout will forage and feed and take on the needed nourishment required to survive the next period of stress. They will, that is, if food is present and if they can get to it. As has already been mentioned the main fare of trout is insect larvae whose abundance is in large part regulated by stable living quarters. Without water there are no aquatic insects and a mayfly larvae living in a riffle covered by a quarter-inch sheet of water is as unavailable to a 10-inch trout as the gold in Fort Knox is to ·the average citizen. In situations such as this, it is only good horse-sense to have ample flow volumes, even though such water may not be suitable temperature-wise at all times. 73
Undoubtedly, too, overall gains outshadow the immediate temperature debit in other ways. There may be greater ground-water storage and redischarge of cool seepage. Flooding may be decreased as well. In many otherwise relatively suitable streams or sections of streams, the pollution load at low water levels knocks out carry-over of trout. This threat or limiting factor would be neutralized by greater water volumes at critical periods. Greater flows likewise reduce the threat of loss due to predation, which in specific situations can be severe. Streambank plantings: Stream side shade is one of the key factors in determining the suitability of a stream for trout in this latitude. Control of streambank vegetation is therefore recommended as one of the best and least expensive methods of improving the habitat for trout. Willow-planting has been a popular project with many clubs. Willow and alder plantings are an effective means of controlling eroding banks and the overland flow of silt into a stream. They likewise afford varying degrees of shade. However, the growth of a few tall trees near the water's edge is much more effective in shielding the stream from the warming effect of the summer sun than a dense low growth of willows, alders, and shrubs. Too, many farmers object to a willow or alder-thronged stream running through crop or pastureland. Dense stands of the latter so choke the stream channel that at high water levels normal drainage of the land is inhibited, and occasionally the current chews a new channel in the surrounding area. This is why it is not an uncommon sight to see farmers clearcutting such brush from meadow-type streams. Studies have increasingly made clear that the arrangement of tall trees, small trees, and shrubs as they grow in undisturbed forests is the best combination in controlling erosion and in providing stream temperatures suitable to trout. To this end, one measure of stream protection that seems most desirable would be the prohibition of all cutting along strips on both sides of streams. There is considerable precedent for promoting a policy of this kind. Genuinely needed solutions to water problems, such as pollution and flooding, are generally recognized as possible only within the context of majority interest and benefit. As such, they are conceded as sociological problems and individual property rights are subservient to the interest of the majority. Certainly, keeping the soil on the land and sufficient water in the streams fit for domestic and industrial use for current and future generations are tasks warranting the interest of society as a whole. Currently, there are no laws relative to cutting on streambanks in this state. The only law in force which might have some bearing is this ; if you are going to cut over 25,000 board feet you must cut according to a state forester's plan. Foresters have generally included streambank protection in their cutting plans. Even though there are no penalty clauses for not following the cutting plan, private landowners have generally adhered to the recommendations laid out for them. Even so, there would seem to be a need for more uniform legislation with teeth that would apply to both small and large cuttings. 74
Fifty feet on each side of a stream is believed representative of that part of the forest cover effective in providing streamside shade and protection. Certainly the uncut areas should be wide enough to provide the maximum of shade and protection to both stream and streamside cover and to preserve the natural attractiveness of the stream. Also, they should be extensive enough to include the stream's source, springs, and small feeder tributaries. Oases of cool water for survival: Many streams, from Maine to Maryland, produce native carry-over trout in the spring but only dace or minnows in the summer. All dedicated trout anglers know the reason-- areas of suitably cool water that the trout crowd into, thereby escaping the summer heat. These may take the form of springholes, known as logans in Maine, the confluence of a cooler tributary stream, or even an area of slight ground seepage. There are other streams that could provide increased carry-over of trout if their cool water oasis potential were developed. Frequently, where such survival water first enters a stream, the area is heavily silted and lacks pool space for 'harboring any appreciable number of trout. This is particularly true of most tributary confluences. The life-sustaining coolness of the tributary water is soon lost without benefit to trout as it mingles and mixes with the larger stream and becomes more exposed to the influences of the sun. True, the larger stream benefits in a decrease in temperature, but not enough to be of significance. This situation is comparable to mixing one quart of whiskey with 1,000 quarts of water. The ensuing mixture would have no effect within the liquid capacity of any human, whereas with much less dilution the liquor would result in startling effects on quite a number of individual humans. It is in making maximum use of what little trout survival water our streams do have that the previously discussed devices to control siltation, create pools, provide shade, etc., will provide the most immediate dividends. The same applies to cleaning out lateral spring flow tributaries, opening up springs to increase their volume, and ditching them to the stream directly before they have a chance to warm up excessively. Then it is equally important that the coolness of such water not be immediately dissipated in the flow of the larger stream, but instead be temporarily retained in the greatest volume possible so as to form an island of escape for trout from high summer water temperatures. Depending upon the specific situations there are many different ways that the foregoing may be accomplished. In some situations all that may be required is digging out a pool. In others, a pool and some sort of a desilting device to prevent the pool from reverting to a shallow riffle may be required. Others may benefit from some sort of a "hide" to shield the water from the sun and provide shelter for the trout. It may be possible to tap into a spring some distance away that does not drain into the stream, thereby leading its discharge through a pipe directly to the bottom of some deep pool. 75
Quabbin Reservoir is an example of where trout values both in the reservoir and the outlet stream have been enhanced by damming a watercourse. Regardless of the varied possibilities for working out such schemes, the reader is cautioned that his capacity for improving the habitat is in direct proportion to his capacity for despoiling it unless he knows exactly what he is about. This is not a textbook on stream improvement. It is meant instead to serve as a general guide as to where the emphasis should be placed in trout stream management based on present day knowledge and situations. Before proceeding with any action program, interested parties would do well to get the best advice available from trained personnel. Artificial enrichment: It has been argued by some that we should deal directly with increasing the basic fertility or food supply in streams. This is accomplished in ponds by the application of commercial fertilizers. They have the same effect as organic pollutants with respect to oxygen depletion. Their use in running water is compounded by the fact that the nutrients are constantly ·being washed seaward. Although tried experimentally in a few southern warm-water streams results have generally not measured up to expectations. For the present, at least, artificial enrichment of streams should not be considered. It is a tremendously expensive technique. On planting aquatic vegetation: It is quite true that the moss and various other types of vegetation found on the bottom of some streams 76
serve as food and shelter for many of the smaller aquatic organisms which trout relish. However, these plants flourish in particular locations only because their needs for nutrients, water of a particular quality, etc., are satisfied. They are lacking from other locations for good reasons--the sites do not satisfy these needs. If conditions are to their liking, they will seed-in naturally and there is no call for stocking or planting such vegetation. Pollution Abatement Many have decried and cursed the pollution of streams. There is little to be gained in belaboring this rather common and widespread sociological problem associated with civilization. It is a problem that detrimentally affects anglers and non-anglers alike in many areas of everyday life. As such, it is a problem that cannot be handled by fishery authorities alone. The agency specifically designated and equipped to cope with pollution in Massachusetts is the Department of Public Health. A logical question at this point is what is this agency's program for pollution abatement, and are they making any headway? The Department is a member of the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission. This latter organization was established in 1947 to provide a rational, overall approach to the problem which is no respecter of state or national boundaries. One of the first requirements Shallower reservoirs cannot be expected to result in similar benefits to trout.
was to establish standards of water quality for various classifications of use. The following classification which is in use by all the participating states was evolved in 1950. Class A -- Suitable for any use. Character uniformly excellent. Class B -- Suitable for bathing and recreation, irrigation and agricultural uses -- good fish habitat, good aesthetic value. Acceptable for public water supply with filtration and disinfection. Class C-- Suitable for recreational boating, irrigation of crops not used for consumption without cooking; habitat for wildlife and common food and game fishes native to the region ; industrial cooling and most industrial process uses. Class D -- Suitable for transportation of sewage and industrial wastes without nuisance, and for power, navigation, and certain industrial uses. Waters falling below these descriptions are considered as unsatisfactory. They are classified as Class E. Every effort is made to bring them up to at least the minimum of the satisfactory grouping. Using these standards, it is then possible to rate (1) the present conditions and use of a stream and (2) the highest proposed future use of a stream. While this classification system may not seem to be very important in the battle for cleaner streams, it actually represents a milestone of progress. No one would think of building a house without a plan or taking a crosscountry tour without a road map. And the same is true of pollution abatement. You can't very well clean up a main stream area if pollutants are continued to be dumped in tributary streams. You need a plan for an entire drainage. It has to spell out what conditions exist, objectives, and how the various parts of the plan relate to the whole and one another. To follow any other course is to flounder in chaos. Such a plan is also needed to spell out the how, wherefore, and cost of abatement. Certain types of industrial acid wastes call for different treatment than the offal from a slaughterhouse. Without the classifications standard set forth a plan is not possible. Once a drainage is classified, the next trick is to bring those streams that are below par up to the highest proposed standards. In the last ten years Public Health has made substantial progress along these lines. For example, much of the Connecticut River is now in Class B whereas these same sections formerly were Class C or D. Of course, much remains to be done. The problem is a continuing one requiring many years for solution, especially in view of the many new types and forms of pollution that appear with increasing regularity. To even hold the line on existing levels of pollution under such situations represents a major accomplishment. The principle stimulus to progress thus far has been the Water Pollution Control Act of 1956. Known as Public Law 660, it authorized federal aid to the states for the construction of sewage treatment works. Specif- 78
ically, it called for spending fifty million dollars a year until a total of five hundred million dollars was expended. Each yearly appropriation is allotted among the states on the basis of their population and per capita income. From a state's allotment, the federal government will pay up to 30 percent of the estimated reasonable costs of construction of a municipal sewage treatment works or one-quarter million dollars, whichever is the smaller. Understandably, initial emphasis has been placed on controlling putrescible or oxygen-depleting wastes because of their more direct relationship to the health of the public. What needs to be done now is to bring public and private resources to bear on the equally important problem of industrial chemical wastes. Actually a good start has already been made along these lines, but the problem is immensely more difficult and complex of solution. Low cost, effective means of treating many of these wastes are not known. Locally this is particularly true of paper-making wastes. The need is for more adequate support of technical research to provide the required know-how. Likewise, it is difficult to demand that local industries be forced to stop using streams as sewers for ridding themselves of their wastes when community employment may be threatened. To lessen this probable hardship, local and national leaders are currently advocating aid to industries installing waste treatment facilities. This would be similar in objective of the aid given local communities in combating domestic sewage under Public Law 660, but differ in implementation. The internal revenue code would be revised to permit rapid amortization of the cost of such non-revenue producing works. As has already been mentioned in another section, pollution assumes many and diverse forms. This has been particularly true in recent years relative to a whole grouping of substances that ordinarily are foreign to the pristine conditions of the waters involved. The most dramatized of these include the various chemical compounds used as pesticides and herbicides. Others possessing a more subtle threat to stream pollution include heat resulting from industrial processes, such as the new atomic energy plant on the Deerfield River, silt from road construction, salt used in de-icing highways, and radioactive fall-out. Again, these are long-term cumulative problems requiring long-term solution. Generally speaking, concerted action programs as they relate to what should and should not be done have not yet crystallized to that point found with other phases of pollution that have been with us a lot longer. Those forms affecting public health directly have received the most attention. This is to be expected. Factual information is generally lacking, the problems are complex, and even the best of agencies are nowhere near adequately financed or staffed with the teams of trained specialists required to tackle all the jobs that need doing. Perhaps of more importance in the eventual outcome of the overall pollutional problem is the attitude of the public. In the past, at least, it has been somewhat characterized by an air of indifference. True, like mother, the flag, and the 40-hour week, everybody has been in favor of a law that would eliminate pollution. However, while not previously stated, the laws 79
Here we see how a badly eroded stream bank was graded, log rip-rapped and planted and the results attained a few years later.
Banks were sloped back, debris buried or covered with dirt, and trees and shrubbery planted on this abandoned borrow pit resulting from highway construction. Erosion of the area and subsequent silting in a nearby stream was stopped, and the area was restored as productive watershed. already on the books in this state are and have been for some time more than adequate to rectify existing obnoxious pollution conditions. Why, then, hasn't more been accomplished? The answer lies with the people. What has happened in the town of Orange over the years is fairly typical of most communities statewide. In 1891, legislation for constructing a sewage disposal system and authorization to borrow outside the debt limit to finance it was approved by the General Court. The purpose was to clean up the Millers River that runs through the town's front door. Almost perennially thereafter for three-quarters of a century, the inhabitants at town meetings refused to implement their own legislative request. There are signs here and elsewhere throughout the land that such economies are being recognized for their penny-wise and pound-foolishness. People are becoming more and more aware of the fact that clean water is not only a requisite of fish, but is also vital for human consumption, jobs in industry, agriculture, and recreation. Individual action carries less weight in an age when group action determines what shall be done. Nevertheless, the ballot--whether it be at the town meeting or the national level--is still one of the most effective ways of making your wishes known. If organized, whether it be in sportsmens' or garden groups, and working for a common goal--in this case, clean water--all the better. Though all will have to shoulder part of the burden, all will benefit. -- Reclamation Tipping the Equilibrium in Favor of Trout While stocking trout is one of the oldest forms of fish management, reclamation of streams is one of the youngest. Irrespective of relative antiquity, they are mutually complimentary. 81
The balance between trout and their environment is delicate. Many of the factors affecting this balance have been emphasized. Considerations of temperature, oxygen, and competition from other fishes are considered the more important in Massachusetts. While very little can be done about temperature and oxygen directly, something can be done about competition. This is chemical treatment of waters that are overrun with trash fishes and restocking with trout. With the trash fish reduced or eliminated, the equilibrium of the stream environment is tipped in favor of the trout. This is called reclamation. Rotenone is the chemical used. The effects on fish vary according to species, size, and water temperatures. Rotenone causes a breakdown in the epithelial cells of the gills making them impermeable to dissolved oxygen. The fish then suffocate. It is not poisonous or harmful in any way to man or other warm-blooded animals. Reclamation of ponds suitable for trout began in the 1930's. It has become a widely-accepted method of providing trout fishing in all areas of North America confronted with a trout problem. Up until recently, however, the principles involved had only limitedly been applied to streams. In California in 1954, 286 miles of the Russian River drainage were reclaimed. A thirteenfold increase in the rainbow trout population resulted. Similar projects have since been carried out in Tennessee, West Virginia, and Montana. Here at home, three small streams were experimentally treated in 1955. Sampling done in 1956 indicated a two-to-five-fold increase in the troutcarrying capacity of two of these streams. Results in the third stream were a washout. It offered no trout water for retreat from high summertime temperatures. These reclamations, plus several more in later years, indicated vastly improved fishing in streams possessing at least some trout water. There are many streams that could provide increased carryover of trout if the small volume of cool water that empties into them from springs and tributaries were developed to provkie "islands" of survival water in the summer. Frequently, where such survival water first enters a stream, the area is heavily silted and lacks pool space in harboring any appreciable number of trout.
The Deerfield River project: In 1959, a pilot project tor both the marginal Deerfield River and other streams statewide was instigated. The purpose was to measure benefits in dollars. Documentation will not be complete until 1962. Still, it has already been learned that stream reclamation for trout is more than a paying proposition. A series of impoundments, controlled by the New England Power Company, act to isolate various sections of the Deerfield River. Two reservoirs on the river in the state of Vermont store water for release in accordance with daily power requirements. This feature has two effects. First, it causes daily fluctuations in volume. Second, they release cold water, from the bottom of the reservoirs, downstream. Even so, summertime temperatures for trout are marginal. Preliminary stream reclamations indicated that complete kills were out of the question. Out of deference to this and the fact that some tributaries supported good-to-middling stocks of native trout, 50 miles of the 500 miles of tributary streams and the 39 miles of main stream were scheduled for treatment. Landowner opposition resulted in abandoning the tributary reclamation. A creel cenus was begun in the spring of 1959. It encompassed the uppermost 20 miles of the river. This area is isolated from the section above by a diversion and below by a dam. This test section was similarly studied in 1946 and 1947. All catchable stockings in this area were either tagged or fin-clipped. Agents interviewed a sample of fishermen as to what they caught. Interviewing every angler was financially impossible. Receptacles were spotted along the stream to facilitate return of tags from marked stocked trout. From these two bodies of data--total tags returned adjusted for tags not returned, and related catch information--total harvest can be approximated quite accurately. 83
So what are the results to date? The 39 miles of main stream were treated beginning on July 26, 1959. This included four mid-stream impoundments totaling 176 surface acres. All told, 75,000 pounds of fish were estimated killed. Trout constituted only 1.4 percent of this total or 1,014 pounds. Suckers made up the bulk of the fish killed. The stream varied in its ability to support fish life. The upper 20-mile test section proved to be the least fertile. Less than 14 pounds of fish per acre were found here! The lower river made a better showing--at least 80 pounds to the acre. The impoundments proved very productive, varying between 150 and 300 pounds per acre. Discharge of sewerage into the river accounts in large part for these differences in fertility. Some 198,000 fingerling trout and 7,600 catchable size trout were restocked between August and November, 1959. In 1960, 130,000 additional surplus fry and fingerlings were stocked from May through the fall months. The number, marking, size, and species of catchable trout planted in the spring of 1959 was the same as in 1960. The number of hatchery catchable trout available for angler capture in 1960 varied as a result of the plants made in the fall of 1959, however. There were no fall plants of catchables in 1960. Angling before reclamation: The first thing we must do in arriving at the actual benefits derived from the reclamation procedure is to establish what the quality and quantity of fishing offered by the river was prior to A good start has been made in the abatement of domestic sewage wastes In streams although much remains to be done. What needs to be done now is to bring public and private resources to bear on the equally importcmt problem of industrial wastes.
The laws already on the books in this state are and have been for some time more than adequate to rectify existing stream pollution. The reasons why our streams have not been cleaned up lies with the people. treatment. This we can only do with accuracy for the so-called upper 20mile test section. To arrive at this we will boil down the results of the 1946, 1947, and 1959 harvest tallies. The periods covered, number and sizes of trout stocked, and methods of sampling were essentially similar between years. The 1946 and 1947 harvest data covered the period from opening day, April 15, to the former closing date on July 31. The 1959 data covers opening day, April 18, through the day before the reclamation, July 25. The harvest was estimated at 33 to 50 percent for 12,955 trout stocked in 1946; 31 percent for 13,800 trout planted in 1947; and 60 percent for 12,000 trout planted in 1959. Fishing pressure doubled between 1946-47 and 1959 and amounted to 46,000 hours in 1959. In 1946, it required just about 3 hours to creel one trout. This increased to 5 hours in both 1947 and 1959. These values are about average for similar size rivers in this state. In other words, slightly fewer stocked trout in 1959 compared to the years 1946-47 produced essentially twice the amount of recreational fishing. This is largely accounted for in that in 1959 some 45 percent of the trout were planted inseason as compared to only 4 percent in 1946 and none in 1947. The estimated number of so-called "wild" trout in the catch remained relatively constant for all three years--just under 1,000 fish annually. In 1959 their estimated total weight amounted to 367 pounds. Angling following reclamation: What happened in the first year following reclamation? Limiting our discussion to the same test section and 85
period, the time between bites was shortened to four hours per trout harvested. You will recall that this is below par for 1946 (3 hours per trout) and above par for both 1947 and 1959 (5 hours per trout). There was a three and one-half-fold increase in the number of "wild" trout harvested in 1960. By weight, the latter amounted to a little under twice that taken in 1959. Of equal significance is that angling was spread throughout the season and that the quality of angling, as measured by the catch rate, improved as the season progressed. This is in sharp contrast to this and other similar size Massachusetts streams. Fishing pressure and success has been demonstrated to normally dwindle to virtually nothing by July and remain so through to the close of the season in October. Costs and advantages: Thus far, we have limited the discussion to only the test section and the first half of the open season. To obtain a line on overall benefits, we must include results from August 1 through to October 15 and make an estimate for the lower 20 miles of main stream as well. The reason for this is that the upper river (449 surface acres) couldn't have been treated without doing the lower river (569 surface acres) as well ; and there is no way of pro-rating reclamation costs between the two. All observations suggest that the lower river produced as well, if not better, than the test section. Bearing in mind that the fertility of the lower river was found to be at least six-fold that of the test section, such a relationship is logical. Both areas were stocked essentially the same with The chemical treatment of streams that are overrun with trash fishes and restocking with trout shows great promise as a means of improving trout fishing. The chemical used is not poisonous or harmful in any way to man or other warm-blooded animals.
catchable size trout. The lower river, however, was much more heavily restocked with fingerlings to take advantage of the increased food available. Therefore, assuming comparability between he two sections brings into focus a take-home harvest of 17,548 "wild" trout for the river as a whole in 1960. These originated mostly from fingerling plants and weighed 3,263 pounds. To have put this additional number of trout in the angler's creel by stocking would have required almost 44,000 hatchery catchables over and beyond the some 30,000 that were stocked. This is figuring, based on 1960 returns, that ten trout would have had to have been stocked to get four back. By weight, the difference would not have been as great. Most of the "wild" trout originating from fingerling stockings were not, in 1960, as big as the 9-12 inch hatchery fish which are normally stocked. Even so, it would have required 8,159 pounds or $8,159.00 ($1.00/pound) worth of trout to have attained a similar numerical harvest. To develop a crude cost-benefit ratio for the reclamation, we must adjust downward for that number and weight of wild carryover trout that prob- ably would have been harvested had they not been eliminated in the reclamation. Even so, 7,423 pounds of trout, worth $7,423.00, would have been required to produce 2,529 pounds of trout to the angler creel. This, then, is the theoretical equivalent of what was actually accomplished with the reclamation which cost approximately one-half as much. Stocking catchable trout alone could not have produced the sustained fishing that occurred throughout the 1960 season, however. Nor would hatchery trout have allowed for the capture and release of better than 22,000 other trout. The release of trout in prior years was virtually insignificant compared to this total. Obviously, it is difficult to equate many of the factors that make for quality in trout fishing--sustainability, the presence of good stocks of trout that periodically rise and are seen, coloration and condition of wild trout as compared to hatchery fish, increased 87
surface feeding, etc. Even ignoring these factors of improvement, which did occur, it should be self-evident that reclamation is a paying proposition. Were sportsmen satisfied? Generally speaking, yes. By and large, even the die-hard, change-resistant oldtimers and local landowners who initially opposed the reclamation changed their opinions. This sentiment has been expressed personally on an individual basis as well as collectively in letters by sportsmens' clubs to the Division. But this is not to say that all anglers are 100 percent satisfied. Good as the results were, they proved to be no substitute for individual skill and persistence. Although not assessed as such, it still appeared that a minority of anglers reaped the majority of benefits. Secondly, the small average size (7.7 inches for the season ; 0.17 pounds each) of the some 15,000 additional trout in the harvest over and beyond what normally could have been expected, caused some discontent. Perhaps this was to be expected in view of the preferential stocking (9inch plus, and, at one time, 12-inch plus trout) this river has always received. Fingerling versus catchables: A few anglers went so far as to say that fingerling trout should not have been restocked. They maintained that it was a perfect waste and that such fish were "slaughtered" at too small The main stream of the Deerfield River was reclaimed in 1959 as a pilot prolect In testing this form of management. All told, 75.000 pounds of mostly suckers were estimated killed. Trout constituted only 1.4 percent of this total.
a size (6 to 8 inches) to do anyone any good. It is an unfortunate fact that these anglers miss the whole point of the reclamation. Reseeding the aquatic environment with fingerling size trout following the reduction in competition from other fish is the only way major benefits from such procedure can be realized. The reasons for this have been repeatedly emphasized. They center on the inherent differences between trout that have grown up in a wild environment as compared to the spoonfed hatchery product. While they may be of the same species, they differ in as many ways as an elephant and a mouse. By restocking with small, inexpensive fingerling trout, you not only capitalize on converting the natural food in a stream into trout flesh at little cost, you also realize the added profit in producing essentially wild trout. True, this seed-stock begins life in the hatchery. However, while still full of the vinegar of youth, they are shipped out to a totally new home. Suffering from none of the influences of competition and being highly adaptable at this stage, the young fingerlings make the transition between the two worlds easily. And, they soon become essentially wild trout to all intents and purposes. This literal interpretation of the facts surrounding known trout behaviorisms as they affect stocking survival is drastically at odds with what has been recorded in the past for fingerlings planted in non-reclaimed situations. Undoubtedly, the dismal failures (generally less than 2.5 percent survival recorded in 21 experiments made in other states involving fingerlings stocked in non-reclaimed streams) characterizing the latter have been responsible for the illusion that the fingerling stage represents one of the poorest sizes for survival when planted. Results on the Deerfield River do not bear this out. Of a total of 54,000 fingerlings restocked in the fall of 1959 in the test section, 16 percent or 8,774 of these fish were estimated returned to the creel in 1960. Returns in future years can be expected to increase this total. Catchable size trout, on the other hand, experience great difficulty in bridging the differences between the hatchery environment and the wild state even if competition is non-existent. Take for example the performance of the catchable size trout planted in the Deerfield River following reclamation. The actual tag-in-hand return from the catchables stocked in the spring of 1960 amounted to 42 percent. This is a slightly lower return than that realized from the catchables similarly planted in the spring of 1959, but is higher than the estimated total return for either 1946 or 1947. Difference in returns appear to have resulted from differences in weather and runoff between years. The spring of 1959 was characteristically normal, whereas the spring of 1960 was a late one. The river ran bank-full with snow-melt water well into May. This is not to say that the elimination of competition was of no benefit in lessening the direct loss as a result of physical forces in the stream itself. Undoubtedly, it was, but the benefits are masked. 89
Trout fishing was vastly improved following the reclamation of the Deerfield River. The additional "home grown" trout creeled by anglers in the first year following treatment more than paid for the expense of the project. The possibility exists that the return would have been even lower had competition been a factor to contend with. Such reasoning is based on the returns experienced from the catchable plants made in the fall of 1959. The purposes of these stockings were threefold; (1) to provide immediate fishing up until the end of the fishing season; (2) to test fall stocking in a reclaimed stream; (3) and to take advantage of any natural reproduction of brown and brook trout that might occur. In September of 1959, when water temperatures became suitably cool, 1,500 tagged catchable size trout, equally divided between brooks, browns, 90
and rainbows, were stocked in the test section. This plant realized an actual tag-in-hand return through the remaining weeks of the open season in the fall of 1959 of 25.4 percent. Another 14.7 percent were accounted for in 1960, bringing the grand total return to 40 percent. This is 2 percent below that registered for the aggregate spring stocking of catchables in 1960. An identical stocking made in November 1959 after the fishing season had ended, gave a return of 23.3 percent in 1960. Overall returns do not depict the significance of these plants. You may recall that it has been emphasized that the brook trout's life-spans are short, regardless of whether they are subjected to angler harvest or not. It has also been reiterated that they are the most easily caught of the three species. These influences come into play when it is seen that of those brook trout subject to angler capture in the fall of 1959, 35.6 percent of the recorded return were taken that fall and only 5.4 percent in 1960. The second plant of brook trout, subject to harvest only in 1960, realized a return of 12.6 percent. Returns on brown and rainbow trout likewise reflect differences in catchability. More importantly, they depict these species' ability to better survive the transition to a wild environment, thereby being available for angler capture over a longer period. Of the rainbows subject to harvest in the fall of 1959, 25.6 percent were taken then and 14.7 percent in 1960, for a total return of 40.3 percent. The sister plant of brown trout realized a first year return of 15.0 percent, but another 22.6 percent were accounted for in 1960, bringing the total return to 37.6. The second fall plant, made after the season had closed, averaged returns of about 29 percent on both browns and rainbows. Now, recall the discussion relative to the pros and cons of spring-versusf all stocking. Remember that of 31 experiments from across the country representing catchables stocked in the fall after the close of the season the average return was 16.8 percent. Remember, too, how, if five recovery rates from two of these experiments are eliminated on the basis of involving atypical streams, the mean return drops to a low 9 percent. Obviously, a comparison of these figures with the Deerfield River returns certainly suggest something out of the ordinary which can only be explained on the basis of the reclamation. Equally illustrative of what can and cannot be expected of catchable hatchery trout is their performance in providing sustained angling over a period of time. Early in the season they make up the bulk of the catch, but peter-out as the season progresses, even though less than one-half are usually accounted for by anglers. If there are no wild fish to take up the slack when this occurs the angling goes to pot. This happened on the Deerfield River in 1959 and has been demonstrated on other streams repeatedly. What happened on the Deerfield River in the year following the reclamation was quite different. About the time the stocked catchables were beginning to have "run their course," the wild trout planted as one-to-four inch fingerlings the previous fall began to replace the catchables in the angler's creel. By summer, they 91
had completely reversed the bi-weekly make-up of the catch from 95 percent hatchery fish to 95 percent or better wild trout. As the season progressed, they likewise continued to grow. Brook trout did the poorest in this respect, due to overstocking. They averaged a little under seven inches early in the season and only about eight inches six months later when the season closed. Of course, some fish did better than this. Specimens up to one foot in length were creeled while others were as small as five inches. Browns and rainbows did better, averaging about seven and one-half inches when the season opened and ten inches when the season closed. The biggest of these measured thirteen inches. From the foregoing it should be apparent why a combination of both fingerling and catchable trout is required in cashing-in on the benefits of reclamation. However, it shouldn't be overlooked that results from a stream reclamation represent dynamic influences. Treatment for control of competition of other fishes therefore must be proposed, planned, and executed on the basis of temporary benefits and with the realization that eventually the trash fish populations will revert to their pre-treatment status. To what level recontamination has progressed in the Deerfield, or what the exact timetable would be in other streams, is not known. Repopulation of the Deerfield River or any other stream with trash fish will likely be rapid and take no longer than three years to reach levels present at the time of reclamation. The value of stocking fingerlings will progressively diminish as time goes by and the trash fish re-establish themselves. The first year they should be a sure-shot success. Thereafter, little is known for sure. In any event, it would appear that fingerling stocking would be pretty much a waste two years after treatment. The benefits from the reclamation will undoubtedly be significant for three to five years, or even longer in some cases. Trout stocks produced in the period of sub-maximal competition can be expected to contribute to the catch for up to several years. A significant portion of this stock can be expected to consist of predator size, carryover trout particularly adapted to changing conditions within the stream, being in themselves a product of such change. It would not seem to be out of line to expect the brown trout to survive through four-to-six seasons, and, in the meantime, avail themselves of the tremendous hordes of small invader species characterizing such situations. General observations of both reclaimed streams and ponds bear these suppositions out. In other words, the greatest number of trout that will be taken in any single year will be harvested in the year following treatment. In the second year, fewer but larger trout are taken, making for the greatest weight of trout removed. Thereafter, this trend of progressively fewer but larger trout will continue until the crop of wild trout produced in that unique period of no or minimal competition is exhausted. Ultimate goals: Ultimately it should be possible to manage all streams where water temperatures do not constitute a complete barrier to trout 92
survival on a reclaimed basis. Another argument for such a program centers on a by-product of the current propagation effort. Routine hatchery procedures demand that more eggs be taken from brood stock fish than hatcheries can raise to catchable stocking size. The margin between what is needed and what is taken serves as insurance against a poor egg hatch, loss from disease, or any of nature's other caprices. Unlike the backyard gardener, the fish culturist cannot just run to the corner store and buy another package of seed should something go wrong. He has to plan ahead and make allowances. The eggs are taken in the fall. It isn't until the next year that he knows where he stands. Like most insurance, you pay for it and never need it. And, in most years, there are tremendous numbers of such surplus fingerlings that have served their purpose but must be disposed of. As already mentioned, to just stock these in waters already saturated with other fish is tantamount to a farmer sowing his seed on a snowbank. To stock this by-product of the hatchery establishment in a reclaimed stream, however, is an inexpensive way of producing more trout for the license dollar. The stumbling block to such a program is lack of understanding and support. Some sportsmen oppose such programming in that benefits are temporary but the same is true of just stocking--in fact, benefits are even more short-lived, yet many times more expensive. Others disclaim any benefits and advocate "economy" by concentrating all efforts on raising more and bigger trout. Yet another faction tends to be unfavorable in that they are unable to believe that the majority of the trout creeled are of the hatchery variety. A fraction of anglers are concerned that by reclaiming a stream, the "natural food--forage fish"--will be eliminated and the trout will have nothing to eat. Forage species are neither eliminated nor required for growth of trout. Endless though such arguments may be, they do serve to pinpoint the need and theme of selling the customer even this meritorious "mousetrap," regardless of the maxim, "build a better mousetrap and the public will beat a path to your door." With this--informing the public so as to generate support on the relative merits of a program--this bulletin has run full circle like the raindrop re-entering the ocean in nature's water cycle. Whether, like the raindrop, the information contained in this bulletin will help in shaping future trout fi§hing, is up to you, the reader. 93
PHOTO CREDITS New Hampshire Fish and Game Department; Cover and pp. 4 (bottom), 7, and 17. U. S. Forest Service; pp. 4 (second from bottom), 11, 15, 26, 35, 36, 37, 42 (left), 74, 81, and 82. Wisconsin Conservation Department; pp. 60, 63, 67, and 83 (left). U. S. Soil Conservation Service; Page 12. Models at Harvard Forest Museum, Harvard, Massachusetts; pp. 29, 30. Frank Ross, reprinted courtesy of the Saturday Evening Post, copyright 1961, by the Curtis Publishing Co.; page 16. Laurence Lowry, Beverly, Mass.; page 17. Fred Schmidt, in "Outdoor America"; page 26. All other photos by personnel of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Game 94

JW Mullan

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