[img2="left"]http://www.theflyfishingforum.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=233&stc=1&d=1148162634[/img2]Lower Mountain Fork Spawn
First successful trout reproduction documented in the Lower Mountain Fork River
For the first time in Oklahoma, fisheries biologists have documented natural reproduction of rainbow trout. The discovery was made in the Lower Mountain Fork River trout fishery below Broken Bow Lake.
"Clearly, this new information sets the Lower Mountain Fork River apart as one of the premier tailwater fisheries in the nation," said Barry Bolton, assistant chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Anglers reported observing trout spawning activity in December and January. A few months later, scattered reports began coming in of very small rainbow trout being caught by anglers.
"All of the trout that we stock are much bigger than a few inches, so we did a small survey with a bag seine," said Paul Balkenbush, southeast region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department.
In four different locations, biologists caught a total of 17 young rainbow trout.
"Due to the nature of the river - lots of boulders and swift current - there was a very limited number of places we could use our seine effectively. The fact that we were able to catch young trout in every location was very encouraging and leads us to believe that they are abundant and widespread. We are not certain of their age but they were born here," Balkenbush said. "They may only be two or three-inches long right now, but we can say without a doubt that these are wild fish."
The Wildlife Department first stocked the Lower Mountain Fork River
with trout more than 17 years ago. Since that time the 12-mile
designated trout stream has seen many habitat improvements.
Additionally, thanks to the efforts of Oklahoma's congressional
delegation, the U.S. Congress passed the Water Resources Development
Act in 1996 to ensure that cool water from Broken Bow Lake is
released throughout the year to sustain the trout fishery.
"These young trout are, in part, a reflection of all the hard work
done through a number of cooperative habitat initiatives. We could
have never completed these efforts without generous donations, both
in financial support and sweat equity, from several dedicated trout
clubs in Oklahoma and Texas," Balkenbush said.
Rainbow trout have very specific habitat requirements in order to
spawn successfully and biologists have completed several projects to
make the river more suitable for trout.
For example, the Spillway Creek area of the river was once mostly a
swift and straight area, not the most suitable for trout or trout
anglers. Today, the area is one of the most dynamic areas of the
river. Wildlife Department personnel and their cooperators used
large boulders and logs to improve the river channel creating a
series of riffles, runs and pools - all prime trout habitat. The
habitat efforts also trapped clean gravel in shallow areas of the
river providing the type of habitat needed by spawning rainbow trout.
"This natural reproduction is certainly exciting, however we don't
know if this is a one-time phenomenon or if reproduction will occur
each year," Balkenbush said. "Hopefully, these trout will survive
and grow for a couple of years and provide anglers an opportunity to
catch wild fish but at this point we don't know if that will happen
Wildlife Department fisheries biologists will monitor possible
future trout reproduction and track the survival of these young
In the meantime, fisheries biologists will continue improving
habitat in the area through projects like the Evening Hole
Restoration Project - the most ambitious stream restoration project
undertaken by the Department. Following two years of research and
development, biologists have now begun the huge task of renovating
the area known as the Evening Hole located on the Lower Mountain
Fork River. The project also includes the creation of a "new" trout
stream almost a half-mile long that will connect to the main river
channel and provide new angling opportunities. To learn more about
the project log on to www.wildlifedepartment.com/hottopics.htm
To learn more about trout fishing log on to wildlifedepartment.com
or turn to page 22 of the "2006 Oklahoma Fishing Guide."