The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently completed a major effort to eradicate non-native fish from Lower Sargent Pond in Hamilton County, DEC Regional Director Robert Stegemann announced today. The pond will be stocked with fish next year to reestablish the high quality, naturally reproducing native brook trout fishery that had existed there before its population was depleted due to the presence of the non-native fish.
"Native brook trout populations have been significantly reduced in
the Adirondacks and other areas throughout the east, but we are
committed to restoring these populations in local waters," said Director
Stegemann. "This tremendous coordinated effort will ensure the
continued existence of a natural aquatic community and provide a high
quality wilderness fishing experience for anglers."
Providing a high quality wilderness fishing experience on Lower
Sargent Pond promotes Governor Cuomo's NY Open for Hunting and Fishing
Initiative, which has improved recreational activities for in-state and
out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen, and boosted tourism
opportunities throughout the state. This initiative includes the
streamlining of hunting and fishing licensing along with reduced license
fees, improved access for fishing at various sites across the state and
increased regional hunting and recreational opportunities.
The eradication of non-native fish, followed by restocking with
native brook trout is a key component of DEC's Brook Trout Restoration
Program. DEC is a partner in the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture (http://easternbrooktrout.org/), which is working to protect, restore and enhance brook trout populations and habitats across their native range.
For decades Lower Sargent Pond was considered a high quality fishery,
which sustained natural reproducing brook trout population. It was one
of the most popular fly-in fishing destinations in the Adirondacks, and
many anglers would walk the two miles into the pond to fish for brook
As the abundance of largemouth bass increased in the pond, the brook
trout population severely declined. In 2012, no young brook trout were
present; only large, older brook trout that had been hatched before the
bass population had grown. The decline in the brook trout population was
not due to overfishing. The primary causes were illegal fish stocking
and use of bait fish.
The eradication of non-native fish from a water body is known as a
"reclamation." The reclamation procedure is used to return the water to a
historic natural aquatic community, provide higher quality fishing
opportunities and, where possible, to reintroduce endangered fish
species such as round whitefish.
The reclamation of the 131-acre Lower Sargent Pond is the largest
reclamation in New York State in several decades. A considerable amount
of resources and a extensive coordination were needed to complete the
reclamation over a five-day period. The effort included the
participation of dozens of DEC staff from various regions and programs,
and assistance from the State Police Aviation Unit for helicopter
transport of personnel, equipment and supplies. There were 37 trips by
helicopter during the project, but many workers still had to walk two
miles to and from the nearest road carrying equipment and supplies.
Non-native fish, such as bass, yellow perch and golden shiner,
negatively impact the native fish communities and ecosystems of
Adirondack waters. Non-native fish prey on the eggs and young of native
fish. They out compete brook trout and other native fish by consuming
large quantities of zooplankton (very small aquatic animals) and other
prey food that the native fish feed upon.
It is illegal to move fish from one water body to another without a
permit from DEC. The possession or use of fish as bait is prohibited in
Lower Sargent Pond and many other trout ponds in the Adirondacks to
prevent the introductions of non-native fishes.
Adirondack heritage strain Little Tupper brook trout will be stocked
in the pond next year. It is projected that in the next three to five
years, Lower Sargent Pond will once again be a high quality wilderness
brook trout fishing destination.
Brook trout thrive on a diet of insects and other invertebrates, and
grow to large size in ponds that do not have minnows as forage. The
current state record brook trout is a 6 pound fish caught in an
Adirondack wilderness pond that contains no other fish species. Minnows
can become abundant in a pond or lake and compete with brook trout for
food - decreasing the brook trout population.
More information on protection of native brook trout, impacts of
non-native fish, rotenone and other topics can be found on the DEC Protecting Adirondack Fish web page.
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