Upper Spring Creek Brook Trout Hatch a Success
One of the most important spawning tributaries to the Bighill Creek is located further up the system. Its location makes it a very important spawning habitat for recruiting new generations of trout into the Bighill Creek annually. It is better to have recruitment on the upper reaches of the Bighill Creek, because the newly hatched trout will easily work their way down the system, rather that have to fight their way upstream. Due to a number of beaver dams, the task of upstream migration is very difficult for trout of all sizes.
In the fall of 2016, there were record numbers of brook trout redds, mapped and documented on the Upper Spring Creek. It was very important that a successful incubation of those eggs and a hatch of new trout would occur this spring. I am happy to report that the eggs are hatching and new trout are emerging from the spawning beds this spring. With an emergence window of over two weeks, the signs of early hatching and the appearance of juvenile brook trout fry holds great promise for the tributary.
Above: This 2017 brook trout fry was holding in shallow lateral margin habitat, and I was able to take this close up of the tiny trout. It thought that it was safe, holding in a cover of detritus while I stocked in close for a photo or two. The large head and eyes are a dead giveaway for a newly hatched trout fry.
With successful hatches also occurring on Millennium Creek and Ranch House Spring Creek this spring, we can look forward to a huge increase in the trout populations on Bighill Creek. There was also substantial spawning that occurred in the main stem of the Bighill, but verification of that hatch is very difficult to determine, without a timely investigation. However, I suspect that with the clean flows of the creek during the fall and winter, there should be a relatively good hatch as well.