MDDNR Fisheries Service to Host Savage River Brook Trout Open House (Comments Posted Below)
Cumberland, MD - The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Service held an open house, on February 4, to present the results from the brook trout population study in the Savage River watershed.
Field research by scientists at DNR and the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Studies (UMCES) Appalachian Lab has shown declining trends in Savage River brook trout populations. Dr. Robert Hilderbrand of UMCES and DNR Fisheries biologists will be on-hand to share the results and discuss the current status of Savage River trout populations.
Interested citizens may also view information here.
The comment period has ended, however if you would still like to send a comment or question to DNR please email them to: email@example.com
Public Comment Record for Regarding Brook Trout Population Study in the Savage River Watershed
Thank you for your interest, comments will be posted at the discretion of DNR.
Protect the Native Brook Trout in the Savage River Watershed
Please do not lift the zero limit brook trout policy on the Savage River! Between WV, MD, and VA there are thousands of miles of put-in-take trout waters for anglers and it far exceeds access to special regulated waters. As a VA resident I'm often frustrated by the lack of catch-n-release trout waters available to anglers. This is the very reason why I and several of my friends make the 3hr drive to the Savage river numerous times in a calendar year. If MD reverses the regulations we will certainly make less trips as will others who love this water. Changing the the zero limit policy will have a dramatic impact on the native brook trout population. While MD game wardens do an outstanding job, this will only decrease their ability to prevent poaching and those who choose to violate the rules! From a legal perspective, there is less of a grey area with a zero limit policy vs catchable trout regulations.
From an economic perspective, it will also have an impact on local MD and WV small business. Each time we visit the Savage we spend hundreds of dollars in the local economy from Keyser to Westernport to Bloomington. Research shows that special regulated water, especially water as rich with native trout as the Savage generates far more local revenue than put-n-take trout waters. Not only do we travel from VA, but each year a friend of ours flys in from Denver, CO to fish the Savage and NBP rivers with us and that should speak to the lure of catch-n-release trout waters. A change in the regulations on either one of these rivers will certainly change our minds all together for our 7th annual trip this spring!! Thanks for the opportunity to comment and please do the right thing!!!
CF 2-27 -12
Great job of protecting Brook Trout of the Upper Savage.Be nice to close the rest of the Upper Savage to bait fishing
CF 2-27 -12
Great job of protecting Brook Trout of the Upper Savage.Be nice to close the rest of the Upper Savage to bait fishing
Mike Sawyers 2-27-12, Cumberland Times-News Outdoor Editor:
I ask that you use my name and title when publishing my comments that pertain to brook trout management and regulations in the upper Savage River drainage.
Ken Pavol, retired DNR fishery biologist, in his post (KP 2-9-12) makes this statement. "This is certainly not the time to bow to a few individuals who would prefer to repeal the regulations simply because they prefer bait fishing and harvest."
That is absurd. In 2006, a petition containing almost 1,000 names of anglers who wanted to retain bait fishing and harvest was sent to DNR. That, by anybody's math, is more than a few.
In addition, I ask that you include as part of my comments published on your website, this link to my recent column about the matter.
Please keep the Brook Trout Regs the way they are! Give the fish a chance to reach their potential.
I absolutely agree with the current regulations on the Upper Savage. We fishermen, of all sorts (bait, spin, fly) have to understand that Brookies are just barely surviving the harsh environmental impacts lately (excessively high and low water, and higher than normal temperatures), and that over-fishing is just one more strain on their fight for survival. If we, or our children want to have even a chance of catching one of these beautiful fish in the future, we have to protect them more. Far as access for children, I was brought up catching stockers, and they were easier to catch anyway. I strongly agree we should have areas focused on fishing opportunities for children, and if there aren't enough places to take children fishing, maybe the state should take a closer look at that issue.
KP 2-9-12Comments from Cumberland Openhouse on 2/04/2012:
As spokesperson for the Western Maryland Professional Fishing Guide's Association, vice president of the Yough Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and a fisheries biologist with over 30 years of experience, I would like to offer the following comments: DNR's decision to provide greater protection to the wild brook trout population in the Savage Watershed in 2007 could not have been implemented at a better time. Environmental factors, like high stream flows coupled with low summer flows, have combined to limit brook trout reproductive success in recent seasons. That issue is well documented in DNR's report on the status of brook trout in the Savage watershed. Without the protection afforded to wild brook trout by current regulations, many more of the remaining adult trout would have been harvested, further reducing overall adult trout numbers and the potential for recovery. Brook trout, in the Savage watershed and regionally, need a successful year class very badly. Greater adult numbers should translate to greater numbers of young trout when that successful year class finally occurs. The current reproductive cycle looks good so far with adequate stream flows during the past fall spawning period. If spate flows in winter and spring are not devastating, a good year class of wild brook trout could be produced this coming season. The success of the recovery will be directly benefited by the number of spawning adults protected by current regulations. This is certainly not the time to bow to a few individuals who would prefer to repeal the regulations simply because they prefer bait fishing and harvest. That activity is available on hundreds of miles of streams in Maryland, including a large section of the Savage River in the Savage watershed. MD DNR's actions to protect wild brook trout in the Savage watershed have been timely, courageous, and biologically sound. Keep up the good work DNR.
I am sad to see the decline on brook trout in the Savage watershed. However without the special regs in effect it would be worse. I support these special regs and agree that they should continue. Keep up the good work DNR.
G.M. and B.M.
Below Savage River Dam the new regulations have hurt the brook trout population by allowing brown trout to be protected up to 18 inches
G.M. and B.M.
Change regulation from Poplar Lick to Merrill's Bridge to allow bait fishing and/or delayed harvest.
I support the current brook trout regulations in the Savage Watershed.
It is difficult to truly determine the effects of the current regulation due to the impact of water flows. However, if the regulations were not in effect, there would be fewer mature fish. If there were fewer adult fish, there would be less reproduction. If there were less reproduction, there would be fewer fish in the stream. Therefore the regulations are working to help support the current brook trout populations and should be continue. I fully support these regulations and hope they will produce significant increases in the brook trout populations, when Mother Nature cooperates!
These regulations are great and seem to help. But as I see it, improving the habitat should be a top priority. There are large stretches of the upper Savage River without a tree canopy and many instances of erosion and sediment problems.
I would like to propose again, that a new regulation be made giving bait fishing back in the Savage River watershed.
I would also like DNR Fisheries to pay attention to all of the other factors that threaten the Savage River watershed, the factors listed in the BTJV [Brook Trout Joint Venture].
If bait fishing is banned all fishing should be banned.Comments as of 2/02/2012:
DNR has received a variety of comments both positive and negative since 2007 regarding the upper Savage River brook trout regulation. The following italicized comments summarize some of the concerns we heard with our response.
"YOU'VE TAKEN AWAY A KIDS ABILITY TO FISH THE AREA"
DNR has heard this frustration from anglers who grew up fishing the Savage or who have enjoyed fishing it with their children and grandchildren. The area under regulation is still open for fishing, but it's true that children can't bait a hook and fish the way they could in the past. But Fisheries must be equally focused on providing this opportunity to children in the future and we are working to insure that kids have plenty of fish to catch whenever they visit the river. Increasing harvest and mortality at current population levels means kids of today and tomorrow would struggle to catch enough (any) brook trout to stay interested. Ignoring that likelihood would be irresponsible and not help the resource or the children. Fishing access is a priority for DNR and if there is interest in teaching kids how they can continue to fish in the Savage while the regulation is in place, the Department will gladly work with local partners to provide help and instruction as needed. We also stock tens of thousands of trout in Garrett county Put and Take streams each year that can be fished for with bait.
"YOU'VE TAKEN AWAY OUR RIGHT TO USE BAIT"
Restricting some types of gear is a common method of reducing fish mortality and avoiding more drastic measures like total closures. The intent of this regulation is not to take away rights or give special privileges to any groups, but to do what is best for the resource while still allowing for angling. We sincerely hope that all brook trout fisherman will tie on a small lure and continue to enjoy and appreciate the special opportunity of Savage River brook trout fishing.
YOU'VE GIVEN IT ALL TO THE FLY-FISHERMEN"
There is slightly over 1 mile of river that is restricted to fly fishing, and that is downstream of the reservoir and not in the upper Savage no kill brook trout management area. All other waters in the watershed are open to all types of spinning gear and other commonly used equipment.
"THE DROUGHT KILLED THEM ANYWAY" and "WHY DO YOU THINK WE'RE BETTER OFF WITH THE NEW REG WHEN THE NUMBERS MOSTLY WENT DOWN"
In the absence of the regulation some fish which died due to drought could certainly have been harvested, but so would some of those fish which ultimately managed to survive the drought. With the regulation in place, these survivors (the hardiest fish in the population) will be the ones who sustain the population and make recovery possible when conditions are favorable.
"YOU SHOULDN'T STOCK OTHER TROUT ON TOP OF BROOK TROUT"
DNR removed the Delayed Harvest stocking area below Merrill's bridge because brook trout were consistently found in that part of the river. The Put and Take section is still stocked with rainbow trout to provide opportunities to catch and harvest trout in the watershed. Brook trout, especially larger fish, do use the Put and Take section during the colder months and are harvested incidentally during the spring season. This is not an ideal situation, we would prefer that these especially high value (biologically and recreationally) fish remain in the population. However we also recognize that opportunities to catch and keep trout within the Savage watershed have been reduced with the expansion of wild trout management and we want to continue the tradition of harvesting trout. The regulation also intentionally allows the harvest of rainbow and brown trout throughout the upper watershed in order to reduce competition from those species with the native brook trout.
"OVER 180 MILES OF RIVER AND STREAMS HAVE BEEN PUT OFF LIMITS TO USE OF BAIT"
The actual amount of water this regulation restricts from bait fishing is not as great as it sounds, in the summer it's about 100 acres. Much of this water is shallow riffles and very small headwater streams which don't hold many trout and are not typically fished. By comparison nearby Savage Reservoir provides 360 acres and New Germany Lake close to 14 acres, all of which are open for bait fishing and harvest. Both these areas are stocked with trout annually.
"NO OTHER STATE HAS DONE ANYTHING AS DRASTIC AS CATCH AND RELEASE ONLY"
In the Great Smokey Mountains National Park some streams were totally closed to fishing. Management there included methods such as poisoning the streams to remove competing rainbow and brown trout. When these streams were reopened no bait fishing was allowed and stocking was discontinued. Another stronghold for brook trout in this region, Shenandoah National Park, also does not allow bait fishing.
I would very much like to see a put and take fishery restored on the Lower Portion of Savage River. I fished there as a teenager and remember the river to be an excellent piece of water for put and take trout fishing.
This comment is regarding the upcoming hearing on maintaining catch and release rules to preserve the brook trout on the Savage River. It is just plain crazy not to. They will be fished out and decimated as has happened elsewhere. A pound of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
MM 2-2-12Comments as of 1/30/2012:
I have reveiwed all of the recent data published on the Fisheries website about the 5 yr. period to ban bait fishing from the SR Watershed. After going to all of the links you offered as references, I found your report to be very much exaggerated and misleading(omitting any data on at least, 8 other geographic environmental stressors in consideration for a healthy and stable brook trout habitat) and still inconclusive and lacking no current scienticfic evidence that the "Baitfisherman is more detrimental to the well being of a brook trout than a fly fisherman," as stated publicly by DNR fisheries in a meeting at ACC in 2006. I find it very offensive that you seem to publish only the positive public comments supporting the ban of bait fishing in 2007 and have literally swept all other comments against the ban, under the rug. It is fact that there has been very much controversy and opposition about these 2007 regulation changes. There has been no mention publicly by DNR Fisheries about the thousands of people who signed more than one petition against the 2007 regulations!! I think the fact that the regular public comment meetings usually held each spring for years, have been replaced with the Brook Trout Open House, no longer giving the public the opportunity to sit in a group and witness each other's public opinion and hear/witness the response from each other and DNR Fisheries, out loud for all to hear. Instead of many versions of conversations deciphered individually, we can all hear the same answers at the same time. This changed when DNR Fisheries were confronted publicly too many times with discrepancies found by citizens in their responses. Is'nt this what America is all about, letting the public citizens have a fair opportunity to voice and be part of the decision making process when Maryland's Dept.of Natural Resources Fisheries Service choose to implement new regulations that change the way we enjoy the natural resources around us? Discrimination unfairly among groups so that one group acquires an excessive share of privileges such as fly fishermen over baitfishermen, is not acceptable! We want to share the river with all! We want to continue to help keep the Savage River Watershed a pristene environment not only the waters but, forests and all that inhabit them! I give you permission to submit my name with these comments.
With all the pressures from many different angles it is a wonder this fishery is still around. I am glad to say that the direction DNR and all of the committed individuals who are keeping a vigilant watch over this fragile natural resource, will ensure that the brook trout will be preserved for all future generations.
Thank you and all who are involved for your indefatigable efforts in this conservation endeavor. I feel that one day I will be able to share a fishing trip with my grandchildren to a Maryland brook trout stream with confidence, that this resource will still be in place. And for that I am grateful.
The Maryland DNR has been wonderful in managing our limited natural fresh water resources. The dedication of these workers and their management over the last 20 years has been almost excellent I give them a A-. A wonderful example of excellence is the North Branch This was once a dead stream, devoid of life. It's now it is a recovering trout stream if we could just keep the poachers out! Another wonderful example it the Gunpowder river. Cold water from the bottom of Pretty Boy Reservoir along with Minimum flows have made this an excellent trout stream which is managed well. The Gunpowder has catch and return section for over 7 miles, then a stretch of over 4 miles of 2/day limited take, which is followed by another 6 miles of Put and Take. Having said this however - it is sad to see the decline of such a wonderful natural resource as the brook trout in the Savage watershed. It is my contention that the DNR Management is afraid to make this area a Catch and Release Fly Fishing only watershed for large portions. Does it make sense to stock Browns and Rainbows where you want native brookies to habitat? Why isn't there more miles of Catch and Release Fly Fishing in this area? Note that there are plenty of other streams in the area for Put and Take and Delayed Harvest .. Man-Up DNR do the right thing stop stocking and mandate catch and release only fly fishing sections where you want native trout. If you don't want to increase the native trout and want to appease the fishing public just keep doing what you are doing.
I am a PA Resident who trout fishes in a number of states each year including PA, MD, NY, & WV. I fish various methods for trout including Fly, Spin, and tight line bait fishing. My comments will certainly be controversial but not unfounded. I believe the entire Savage River Watershed should be made "All Tackle Catch & Release".
This type of regulation has worked extremely well in Central PA on several nationally known trout waters including Spring Creek, Penns Creek, and the Little Juniata River (Little J). There is scientific evidence by both the PA Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) and Penn State University aquatic research that both streams under this regulation have either stabilized and/or have increasing wild trout populations. We all know that most anglers who trout fish for consumption purposes do so in "put and take" sections of streams, while fishing pressure on "All Tackle Catch & Release" regulated areas is typically done by fishermen of all types & methods who want to enjoy the ability to fish these streams and appreciate the sustaining populations of trout each time they do so. Along with that appreciation comes better handling and minimal mortality from all types of fishing methods. In my opinion, many mortality studies done in the past have had elements of prejudice in them and were, in part, out to provide support for a limiting segment of the angling public.
The simple truth is that water quality, water temperature, floods, drought, and PREDATION are all much more impacting issues on a wild trout population under "All Tackle Catch & Release" than the type of fishing method. In fact, the number of wild trout on the Little Juniata River have increased so significantly under "All Tackle Catch & Release regulations" that (PFBC) has discontinued annual fingerling stockings this year.
I suggest that you consider this as an option as well for the Savage River and the many others that are managed under specific tackle regulations. As we move forward into the future, we need support of our precious trout waters from all anglers and not just those with the resources to make things happen for their own personal gain. And yes, I am a member of Trout Unlimited and enjoy Fly fishing just as much as the other methods I use. I catch and release over 1,000 trout each year and I fish many wild brook trout streams in PA and even some in Maryland. Thank you for the ability to provide my comments on the subject.Comments as of 1/25/2012:
BM 1-24-12 To whom it may Concern,
I am somewhat dismayed at the location of the brook trout open house being held at ACC. Most of the people who fish the Savage River watershed live in the George's Creek area or in Garrett County. I think a more appropriate location would have been at Frostburg State or at Garrett Community College. Sincerely
Will meeting notes of and/or results of the meeting be posted for public review. Cumberland is too far to attend many in the Baltimore area. Would you consider hosting a second meeting of the same, for Eastern Maryland participants? Thanks,MDNR Response A second Open House is not being planned at this time. However, all reports and information are available online. Comments offered there will be considered as important as comments and suggestions offered by those who attend the Open House. We are also available to answer specific questions at any time. Comments from the Open House will be posted to the website for public viewing.
It was very fortuitous that the regulations for the 5 year study period coincided with the period of drastically decreased reproduction. Not only do the regulations need to be continued for the foreseeable future, but if this year does not result in a large increase in YOY population, it may be time to close several of the more accessible streams to all angling until such time as the populations recover.
R C 1-25-12Comments as of 1/23/2012:
The fishing in Western Maryland brook trout waters, in my experience, has been nothing short of exceptional. The numbers have shown a slight decrease in the last couple of years, but with the extreme environmental conditions during the year, it is understandable. Having said that, I still experienced larger sized fish in most of the streams. Poplar Lick, with its easy and hidden access just being closed off, showed the lowest number of very small fish. Which can only lead an individual to the conclusion that these fish have been getting harvested even during the restriction period. Other than that one location, the sheer size of the brookies caught on these streams are amazing. I fish West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland and by far the brook trout seems healthiest in Western Maryland. With exception to a few locations in PA and WV, to catch a 11-13" brookie is almost impossible. To catch a dozen of that size in one day would be a lie. The overall health of the fish is my number one concern. I want my children and their children (and so on...) to be able to experience a healthy brook trout population.This fish species is in dire straits and I believe it is up to us to protect it from further destruction. I think that the restrictions is the least we can do, and I commend MD Fisheries for their efforts, despite criticism. Keep up the great work, on a fantastic fishery. Although I believe the regulations are already working, I believe the continuation of it will allow the population to potentially reach its older numbers, prior to its near destruction.
The recently released report revealed numerous natural and man-made reasons for the Brook Trout decline. I worked as an NRP Officer in Garrett County for nearly thirty years. I wish to address the human side of the problem. During my career I found that: 1) most fishermen are not fly fishermen; 2) most fishermen want to take home a few fish: 3) If you wish native trout to prosper do not stock their stream with browns or rainbows. It was a very good report and it also revealed on the angler comments page that, despite the decline in BT numbers they were generally quite delighted with the fishery - go figure!. The one thing that disappointed me was that the "Open House" is to be held not in Garrett County, nor even Frostburg, but in Cumberland. Gentlemen, the bulk of the fishermen who fish the Savage River live in western Allegany County, and Garrett County. These are the people to whom you should be talking. Most will not come to Allegany College to do so.
I have yet to fish the savage river but i do fish fly and spin for brooks and browns in Washington and Fredrick co. mainly Owens and big hunting creek head waters these waters have not had a rainbow or brow trout stoked in them in years and this shows there is a very goooood! population of brook trout in these waters on average on just 1 mile of stream i will catch 15-20 brooks and the head waters of Owens you can keep 2 trout per day NOT THAT I DO but you can.now if you go down stream to wear browns and rainbows are present the brook trout pop. declines to 0-1 per mile its simple you have a brook trout that is 4-9 inches and a brown/rainbow that is 10-20 inches the Little brooks just cant compete for the prim trout lies/hole also i don't think the brooks like to share water. also i have caught fall fish/creek chubs in a deep hole 4 to 5 of them in just 1 hole and not 1 brook. on the other hand if i catch a brook there will not be another fish trout or fall fish/creek chub in that hole. i think they are very territorial. and the competition for space/holes/ prim lies just stresses the Little brooks out. this is JUST MY THOUGHTS but if you are going to manage a stream for brooks you cant have browns/rainbows in the picture.and at least catch and release from October - February for the spawning pressure and stress the rest of year maybe 2 per day thank you for your time and thats my comments for this mater