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DEC rids Adirondack pond of non-native fish to restore fishery

— The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently completed a major effort to eradicate non-native fish from Lower Sargent Pond in Hamilton County, DEC Regional Director Robert Stegemann announced today. The pond will be stocked with fish next year to reestablish the high quality, naturally reproducing native brook trout fishery that had existed there before its population was depleted due to the presence of the non-native fish.

“Native brook trout populations have been significantly reduced in the Adirondacks and other areas throughout the east, but we are committed to restoring these populations in local waters,” said Director Stegemann. “This tremendous coordinated effort will ensure the continued existence of a natural aquatic community and provide a high quality wilderness fishing experience for anglers.”

Providing a high quality wilderness fishing experience on Lower Sargent Pond promotes Gov. Cuomo’s “NY Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative,” which has improved recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen, and boosted tourism opportunities throughout the state. This initiative includes the streamlining of hunting and fishing licensing along with reduced license fees, improved access for fishing at various sites across the state and increased regional hunting and recreational opportunities.

The eradication of non-native fish, followed by restocking with native brook trout is a key component of DEC’s Brook Trout Restoration Program. DEC is a partner in the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture (http://easternbrooktrout.org/), which is working to protect, restore and enhance brook trout populations and habitats across their native range.

For decades Lower Sargent Pond was considered a high quality fishery, which sustained a natural reproducing brook trout population. It was one of the most popular fly-in fishing destinations in the Adirondacks, and many anglers would walk the two miles into the pond to fish for brook trout.

As the abundance of largemouth bass increased in the pond, the brook trout population severely declined. In 2012, no young brook trout were present; only large, older brook trout that had been hatched before the bass population had grown. The decline in the brook trout population was not due to overfishing. The primary causes were illegal fish stocking and use of bait fish.

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