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Tuesday, January 30 • 2:00pm - 2:20pm
SYMPOSIA-07: Assessment and Classification of Brown Trout Natural Recruitment and Reproduction in Mill Creek, Richland County, Wisconsin

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AUTHORS. David Rowe, Daniel Oele, Joanna Griffin - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT. There have been large increases in the abundance of Brown Trout Salmo trutta in Wisconsin in the past 50 years. Several changes may have led to these increases including: improved agricultural practices and land use, stream habitat improvements, wild trout propagation, fishing regulations, and angler attitudes. This study used Wisconsin DNR standard sampling protocols and a modification of a baseline monitoring rotation schedule to evaluate the current reproductive classification and need for continued stocking of streams in the Mill Creek watershed, Richland County Wisconsin. The baseline monitoring schedule was adjusted so that stream surveys were grouped by watershed. This allowed for the suspension of all stocking within the watershed the year prior to evaluation. We assumed that any yearling fish sampled the following year were the result of natural recruitment. A total of 35 sites on 14 streams were sampled between June 17 and August 20 in 2013. Levels of natural recruitment, measured by abundance of yearling trout, levels of natural reproduction, measured by abundance of young of the year trout, and adult trout abundance, were assessed using standard WDNR single pass electrofishing survey protocols. Comparisons of size specific relative abundance were made using all stream surveys from 2007-2014 collected using standard protocols and recorded in the WDNR Fisheries Management Database. Catch rate distributions were constructed for statewide and regional comparisons. Many of the Class 2 sites showed higher recruitment than Class 1 sites. However several of these sites also had no evidence of natural reproduction. Two streams showed low recruitment and reproduction but did have above average adult abundance. One stream had high reproduction, but no yearlings or adults. We discuss these results and the implications for trout stream reproductive classification criteria, standard sampling protocols, and use of baseline rotation sampling to answer targeted management questions.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm CST