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September 18, 2014
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‘Crown Jewel’ of the Delaware: Rainbow trout

Contributed photo


Early 20th-century anglers were impressed with this new strain of California trout that, not surprisingly, fought harder than anything they have ever seen. Generations of natural selection and local environmental factors have hardened these fish into a distinct breed of trout, making them into one of the best wild stock of streamlined rainbows in our country. It is now considered by anglers as the “crown jewel” of the Delaware.

Among the Delaware tributaries where they now spawn are Sands and Cadosia creeks in the town of Hancock, NY. The two creeks do not have the regal reputation of famous trout runs in the region, but they are—to this day—a vital part of the aquatic system with the clean flowing cold water and proper cover for survival. The juvenile fish will live in the nursing waters for two years before entering the river to become the spirited, fierce-fighting trout that the Delaware is known for.

A transmitter study conducted by Trout Unlimited in the late 1990s revealed the movements of the adult rainbow trout. The “wild” Delaware fish normally resides in the Delaware and returns to the place of birth each spring, spawning twice in its four and sometimes five-year life span. A few of the cold-water critters were tracked at distances of 60 miles within a one-year period in their struggles to reproduce and find suitable spawning grounds.

In 2006, a 500-year flood devastated Sands and Cadosia creeks, sweeping away precious trout-holding pools, eroding banks and eliminating structure. Some of the remedial channelization intended to prevent future flooding also strips trout cover and increases stream bank erosion.

During the past two years, Friends of the Upper Delaware River (FUDR), based in New York and Pennsylvania, embarked on an ambitious project to restore the creeks. FUDR has partnered with the National Fish & Wildlife Service, the Town of Hancock and the Delaware County Department of Public Works, to restore Sands and Cadosia creeks for the purpose of mitigating flooding and restore fish spawning habitat.

Landowner participation is vital and to date we have a group of very engaged property owners that have partnered with FUDR. The initial $100,000 stream assessment study done by Landstudies, Inc. has been completed. A conceptual plan for their restoration is currently being finalized on Sands Creek and groundbreaking work is the next step.

For further information on the stream restoration project, visit www.fudr.org.