MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The P. Pendleton Kennedy Chapter of Trout Unlimited will be stocking Deckers Creek with brown trout fingerlings Friday at noon in its ongoing effort to reach a reproducing population of the fish. The event will begin at Pioneer Rocks near Brookhaven and then move upstream.
“It feels amazing, even though you always want to be hopeful I never thought I’d see a time where there would be a sustainable trout population in Deckers Creek,” Jacquelyn Core, the president of the P. Pendleton Kennedy Chapter and a lifelong angler, said. “Certainly we want to continue to improve the quality of the watershed and hopefully see a self-sustaining wild population there. If we can get to a place where we see reproduction in that stream we’d stop stocking it. Those are the lessons we learned in Montana.”
Deckers Creek is a tributary of the Monongahela River, running from Arthurdale through Preston and into Monongalia County where it connects with the river in Morgantown. In total, the watershed encompasses 64 square miles. The water is a popular whitewater run, but the surrounding area also hosts rock climbers, bikers and swimmers. Throughout the 20th century, Deckers Creek became a dumpsite for trash, human waste and acid mine drainage, turning the creek into an inhabitable stretch of water for wildlife. Before the turn of the 21st century, Friends of Deckers Creek formed to begin restoring the watershed and over 30 years later fish are beginning to thrive once again.
Core noted that her chapter works with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources to acquire the fingerlings, and after transportation, while maintaining the fishes’ heath and oxygen levels, releases them into streams. She also noted that brown trout are aggressive feeders and “hearty,” helping them withstand less-pristine water.
“In the past, I think this happened and there’s a perception that it still happens, but nationally Trout Unlimited does not stock brown trout over reproducing brook trout populations. We’re stocking browns because there aren’t any brooks in Deckers, and that’s how we have made the selection – some of it is also available in the hatchery. We have 9,000 fingerlings that are going to be spread in streams across Mon and Preston Counties on Friday.”
Trout Unlimited was formed in 1959 in Grayling, Mich., by 16 fishermen. Since then, the organization has expanded nationwide and utilizes science to back restoration projects. The group has been integral in the strengthening of the Clean Water Act and, and according to its website, “works at multiple levels of society and government to achieve its mission. From the landowner to the stream bank, to the fisheries agency, to the Halls of Congress, TU is working to achieve its vision.”
Both TU and FODC partner together on multiple projects, one being a signage project to further protect the creek and its wild inhabitants. A representative of FODC will also be present at the stocking.
“We’ve been working with Friends of Deckers Creek to post some signs along the creek that will both allow Friends of Deckers Creek to collect information on fish caught in the stream and will ask people to practice catch and release and keep the stream clean,” Core said. “It will let people know who keeps the stream clean and who puts the fish in there and how it happens. Just really encourage people to respect that resource. Our plan was to try and get those signs up this spring, but with COVID-19 happening that plan has been pushed back a little.”