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