Rainbow Trout Make a Comeback

Posted on: December 14th, 2015 by Leslie_Zucker

Local anglers report a big improve­ment in Rain­bow Trout caught this year in the Eso­pus Creek. The upper Eso­pus has been tra­di­tion­al­ly known as a “wild rain­bow trout” Catskill stream. Its spring run of Rain­bows out of the Ashokan Reser­voir is leg­endary. There have been sev­er­al bad years of fish­ing Rain­bows start­ing in 2010, after sev­er­al great years in 2008 and 2009. Fol­low­ing Trop­i­cal Storm Irene, Rain­bows were hard to come by. Both the NYSDEC and the U.S. Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey began study­ing their demise. The AWSMP pro­vid­ed fund­ing for the USGS study. Rain­bows start­ed show­ing up again in 2014. The 2015 fish sur­vey results con­firm that Rain­bow Trout pop­u­la­tions are com­ing back. The U.S. Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey sur­veyed fish at 7 sites in the upper Eso­pus Creek in 2015. Three of the sites were locat­ed on the main stem and four were locat­ed on major trib­u­taries near their con­flu­ence with the Eso­pus Creek. Fish were col­lect­ed with­in reach­es 10–20 mean chan­nel widths in length. The length, weight, and species of fish were record­ed. The total num­ber, den­si­ty, and bio­mass of Rain­bow Trout were sig­nif­i­cant­ly high­er at most sites than in the pre­ced­ing two years. The USGS observed a large resur­gence of young-of-the-year Rain­bow Trout at most sites. Rain­bow Trout den­si­ty and bio­mass were also at a three-year high. Although over­all Rain­bow Trout num­bers are still down 30–40% since 2009-10, there is rea­son for opti­mism with two years of improve­ments in sur­vey data and angler observations.

Thanks to con­trib­u­tors: Ed Ostapczuk, Trout Unlim­it­ed; and Scott George, USGS.


Rain­bow Trout, Eso­pus Creek, NY. Pho­to by E. Ostapczuk