This post is for stream PA-1D. I won’t name streams on my site (sorry, don’t ask) to prevent them from being “spot burned” or unwanted attention drawn to them.
Stream PA-1D is listed on the PA Fish & Boat Commission site as simply a “Natural Reproduction Trout Stream”. This is the first stream I remember fishing as a kid specifically for brook trout. We would raid the neighbor’s japanese beetle traps and go into the mountain to catch them. I recall one trip when a friend hooked and lost an abnormally large brook trout in the upper reaches of this stream.
As is usually the case on these tiny mountain streams, the brook trout have a unique appearance. They’re often the most colorful of the fish that I’ve encountered on PA waters. The male above was caught in September and exhibits full spawning colors. I thought the halo spots were interesting on this fish.
Stream PA-1D is entirely contained within a State Forest. It originates high in the mountain from several small drainages and gathers into fishable water within a hundred yards of that confluence. It spills down over some very rugged and remote terrain. Accessing it’s headwaters is achieved by parking on top of the mountain and walking a mile or so down a trail to it’s head. It’s lower section is accessible right by it’s confluence with another “Natural Reproduction Trout Stream”. So you can approach from either direction, though the bottom is much better.
Most of the brookies in this stream are very small (2″ – 5″) but occasionally some larger ones are caught. The above fish is 8-1/2″ long, and on the same day that I caught him, I lost a larger fish. This stream probably has a maximum fish size of around 9 or 10 inches. There simply isn’t much habitat to house larger fish.
The above little one is about typical for the stream in most small pockets. Only in the deepest, largest pools are there larger fish, and there aren’t many of them. Of note on the above fish is the halo pattern. In my opinion, it closely mimics the pattern on the larger male. This population of brook trout is listed by the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture as Allopatric Eastern Brook Trout (only brook trout are in these streams). What is interesting to me is that these fish are a mere few hundred yards (other side of the mountain) from another stream source with wild brook trout, but they’re isolated from one another. The Northwestern slope of the mountain drains north and is part of the Susquehanna drainage. The Southeastern slope (where stream PA-1D is) drains south into the Chesapeake system. In other words, it’s possible, or even likely that the trout on either side of the mountain came from unique strains, or subspecies during the last ice age.
Of interest with regard to the above, is the outward appearance between fish on the southwest slope vs. the northwest slope. I’ll gather some photos of the northwest slope fish in the future and do a comparison in the “fish” section. For now, by description, the fish on the northwest side seem more elongated, while the southeastern fish tend to be more compact. In other words, the southern fish seem taller than the northern fish. This is a theme that I’ve personally noticed. Fish from the Western Maryland systems have this same kind of outward appearance (compact/taller). In my experience/opinion anyway. I’ll be documenting some Maryland streams soon, so I hope to show more comparisons.
It’s my opinion, and this is simply the opinion of a brook trout enthusiast, that stream PA-1D is actually on the dividing line between two different/unique strains of Eastern Brook Trout (EBT). I’ve read a fair amount on the studies that have been done, and continue to be done on the genetic differences of brook trout throughout their range. I believe that the wild fish that exist throughout Southwestern PA and into the Northern parts of PA are unique from those in Maryland and further south even into North Carolina. This is an important concept for me, because I believe that my best chances for a true Unicorn Eastern Brook Trout lie to the south of the Mason Dixon line.