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Dunbar Creek survey brings surprise

| Sunday, Aug. 6, 2006

There's a mystery to be solved on Dunbar Creek.

Biologists from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's regional office in Somerset surveyed the stream July 18-19, looking for wild and stocked trout. They found both in pretty good numbers.

They also found something they weren't expecting.

Electroshocking one section of stream, below what is known locally as the wire, they found eight hatchery brown trout and three hatchery brookies, but also four rainbow trout "that appeared to be either wild fish or fish that had been stocked as fingerlings, because they were all five to seven inches long," said the commission's area fisheries manager, Rick Lorson.

Lorson and his crews shocked the section of creek that runs through the town of Dunbar, below the limits of the stocked area, to see if they found more rainbows there, but came up empty. That means it's unlikely the rainbows moved into the creek from the Yough River, which is a good five miles away.

"The potential exists that the work done on Glade Run improved the alkalinity for the rainbows to the point that it allowed for some reproduction in there. Or, unbeknownst to us, someone may have put some rainbow fingerlings in there," Lorson said.

"We're going to have to investigate that."

Glade Run -- a tributary to Dunbar Creek -- was devoid of insects and fish from the 1950s through the late 1990s. The Chestnut Ridge Chapter of Trout Unlimited has been working on the stream for years, however, adding limestone sand to improve the quality of its water.

That seems to be paying dividends. In surveying Glade Run itself, Lorson's crew picked up 30 wild brookies. Twenty of those were young-of-the-year specimens, while the others were 1 to 2 years old.

Also discovered there were healthy populations of sculpins and black-nosed dace, two members of the minnow family. That further indicates the water quality in Glade Run has come a long way thanks to the Trout Unlimited chapter's remediation work, Lorson said.

As for the rest of Dunbar Creek, Lorson surveyed a 240-yard stretch above Glade Run, collecting 78 wild brook trout. Twenty-one of those were young-of-the-year fish, but six others were legal size, "which is a good number for that stretch of stream and that size water," Lorson said. "We had two eight-inch fish, three 10-inch fish and one 11-inch fish."

Hatchery trout also remain in Dunbar Creek. In surveying a 240-yard section of the flyfishing-only area, near the upper parking lot, Lorson and his crew found 41 hatchery browns, 66 hatchery brookies, a couple of hatchery tiger trout, along with four wild brookies. Many of the fish were located around the jack dams built by the members of the Dunbar Sportsmen's Club.

"The water temperature was still decent at that time, so it would be a good place to go catch trout," Lorson said.

Focus on terrestrials

Anyone planning to fish for Dunbar Creek's trout at this time of year would be wise to focus on using a couple of patterns, said Richard Zoog of Orchard View Angling in McMurray.

"Ants, beetles, stimulators, that's what you would want to use now. Grasshoppers, crickets, any kind of terrestrials," Zoog said.

He said he would use stimulators in size 12 patterns, and black ants in sizes 14 and 16.

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