Dunkard Creek Restoring Itself Faster Than Expected


A fisheries biologist with the Division of Natural Resources, says the water body Dunkard Creek is doing an excellent job of restoring itself with aquatic life. This is the site of a massive fish kill back in 2009.

Almost five years ago, a golden algae bloom killed just about everything in the stream Dunkard Creek, which meanders through West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania. Among the victims were muskies and bass, but more importantly perhaps, the creek’s mussel population. Fisheries biologist Frank Jernejcic with the DNR says it’s going to take decades and decades for those to come back.

“We have stocked five species of mussels in the last two years. It will be a number of years before we can assess how successful they will be because reproduction is relatively slow. Mussels have a very unique reproductive cycle,” he said.

But the good news is that the creek is restoring itself. In fact, it’s happening at a much faster pace than even Jernejcic estimated. Jernejcic says 35 total species were wiped out in the kill. Almost that many various species are back.

“We’ve seen the small mouth and the muskies reproduce, muskies have returned in fairly good numbers, and we haven’t made the decision yet whether we will stock muskies in the next year or two. We may not have to, although our original program was to stock them every two or three years,” Jernejcic said.

The muskies are a key element to the creek, because it was a main attraction for local fishermen, according to Jernejcic. He says fishing enthusiasts aren’t using the stream as much as they were before, but he expects that to change, since the population is coming back.

“Muskies are a top predator, they are also a very desirable sport fish. I look at fish as being the final product that these streams produce. Dunkard Creek was certainly in the top 15 or 20 of muskie streams that we stock in West Virginia. It should be a destination now for muskie and small mouth fishermen,” said Jernejcic.

However, Jernejcic says the DNR isn’t seeing any new species enter Dunkard Creek.