Backyard Brookies?

Before I tell you more about mine and KG’s time on the Delaware, I first need to tell you about something really cool going on not far from my house.

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What more can you ask for in your back yard, or near enough to, than a brookie stream?  About a month ago I learned of an effort by the the local middle school in conjunction with Trout Unlimited to take a  small local stream and reintroduce brook trout.  Trout in the Classroom is a fantastic program designed to introduce the down stream mind set to our nation’s youth by raising a brood of trout that they will then let go into a near by waterway.

The waterway in question near me is Meeks run.  A small stream somehow untouched by the industrialization of the past 200 years and left almost as pristine as Andrew Montour found it.  The mine run-off rampant in western Pennsylvania, non-existent here.  Housing and commercial development have ignored this place that is but a good double haul away from the Pittsburgh airport.  This narrow hollow set in the ex-urbs of the burgh has been acquired and left to the public by the Hollow Oak Land Trust.  A group doing great work to acquire, protect or reclaim the natural wonders of western PA.

The Hollow Oak Land Trust and TU did enough water sampling and and watershed research to discover the potential viability of restoring brook trout to this stream.  Meeks run has a naturally reproducing population of brown trout, so it seemed a natural extension to reintroduce brookies to this waterway.  An 8th grade science class at Moon Township Middle School partnered with TU to raise brook trout in their classroom to be released this past April into Meeks Run.

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Time will only tell how successful this initial stocking and subsequent will be in reestablishing this little creek in my town to be a brookie stream.  This past weekend I had my first chance to go check out his little piece of water and see if I could spot a couple of the little guys getting ready for the winter in their new home.  No rod, just a long walk in the woods with Utley the Britney and a stop here and there to look into the deeper pools for Salvelinus fontinalis.

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After my first visit here, I’m truly impressed with both the quality of the trails, and also the remote feeling and peacefulness one gets will walking through the secluded valley canopied by hemlocks and second growth hardwood.  Even as jets make their approach overhead to the airport.  I stopped at a number of places to look for brookies and did find a few.  Only 100 were stocked, and it’s great to see that some of these original fish have made it to their first autumn.  I will keep my fingers crossed that a few fish make it through the coming winter, and will be joined by new friends in the spring.  I can’t in good conscious fish this stream for 3-5 years once I know a brookie population is thriving and self sustaining, but to know that a place like this exists but a handful of miles from my door is comforting and exciting to say the least.

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I mention the name of this stream only to call attention to the efforts of TU and Moon township Middle School, but also to inform more people about this specific place, how great it is, but also of the efforts of the Hollow Oak Land Trust.  Please give their websites, and their efforts a visit.

– Steve-o

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