Brook Trout Population Growing in Aquetong Creek

Birds do it. Bees do it. Even the trout in the creek do it, according to recent research by a local nature group.

Surveys conducted by the Bucks County chapter of Trout Unlimited in June and July confirmed that the 50 wild brook trout introduced into Aquetong Creek in April 2017 have taken hold and established a reproducing population in the creek.

“The fact that we found fingerling brook trout is proof positive that the trout we transported last year successfully spawned in the fall of 2017,” explained Jeff Neamand. He and fellow afishianado Kevin Randall led the mission to capture and transport the trout to Aquetong Creek in Solebury and New Hope.

“There is only one other stream in Bucks County with a naturally reproducing brook trout population, so it is very gratifying to be part of the effort to establish a second population, especially when you realize how drastically the range of Pennsylvania’s brook trout has shrunk,” Neamand said.

According to data from the Pennsylvania State Council of Trout Unlimited, of 1313 watersheds in the state in their historic range, brook trout are locally extinct in 407 watersheds, and are greatly reduced in 507 watersheds.

Aquetong Creek is part of that range, but the complete deforestation of the watershed and construction of mill dams in the 18th and 19th centuries resulted in warming water and heavy siltation, according to Trout Unlimited. These conditions destroyed the habitat vital to support brook trout within the watershed, they say.

Bucks County Trout Unlimited began its advocacy for the removal of the Aquetong Lake dam and restoration of brook trout to Aquetong Creek in 1996, culminating with a vote by  Solebury Township supervisors to remove the dam in 2013. That allowed the cooler water water of the Aquetong Spring to once again flow downstream without being warmed by Aquetong Lake, resulting in near perfect stream temperatures for brook trout.

“In some ways it is remarkable that the trout are doing so well”, said Randall, “The water temperature of Aquetong Spring at 52 degrees is of course perfect for brook trout, but considering that no stream restoration has taken place, and yet the trout are thriving, makes me very hopeful for their future prospects.”

Solebury Township’s plan to remove lakebed sediment from the creek will dramatically improve stream habitat, especially clean gravel areas needed for spawning, says the group. And that should keep the local brook trout in the mood for love.

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Charlie Sahner

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." - Einstein

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