July 6, 2009
Welcome to the Fishing Report. It is overcast and the fog that follows Little River through town is back, just like yesterday. Last night thunderstorms blew through the valley dropping 1.3 inches of rain at the shop. These afternoon thunderstorms are going to be key to keeping the fishing as good as it is. The river is flowing strong and stained this morning. Downstream from Townsend it is muddy. We may get more rain today. What a summer it has been for fly fishing in the Park. It has been excellent.
A friend of ours from Louisiana came by yesterday. He has been fishing the Cosby and Cataloochee area for a few days. He said as others have that the brook trout in Cataloochee have moved down and populated the lower elevation streams. Now you can catch wild brook trout in lower Palmer Creek, Little Cataloochee and Big Cataloochee. I first heard about this last year from Steve Moore at the Park Service. They don’t have a clue why this is happening. Personally I think the droughts of 2007 and 2008 and the thinning out of rainbow trout might be the reason. A lot of rainbow trout died in the park during that time. Maybe the brookies are taking their place.
You might think that losing a lot of rainbow trout would have a negative effect on fishing in the Park. Actually it helps the fishing. Most of the streams before 2007 were choked with small rainbows. Now the remaining fish are fat and healthy. Less fish and the same amount of food grows larger trout. You won’t notice there are less trout but you will see a difference in the size.
The reason the Park Service was against any form of catch and release fishing in the 80’s, 90’s and now is because most trout die from other causes like old age, droughts and floods. Fishermen who keep trout don’t make a noticeable dent in the population. Also, it has been shown to me and others by scientists that the streams are overcrowded much of the time and populated over the carrying capacity of the food base. That results in small stunted rainbows. But that does provide the browns with more food. They live longer, grow larger and become predators, eating other fish including rainbow trout. Rainbows in the Park have an average life span of 3 years. They hardly ever reach the size to eat other trout. So they have to make a living on bugs.
Speaking of bugs, if you go today have some beetles, ants and Green Weenies in your box. They are working folks. With the stained water we have right now, a larger rod with heavier tippet might be the ticket for a big brown. Take some streamers. This is a good day for that. Try a Sculpin Minnow or a Girdle Bug. The streams should clear today if we don’t get a lot of rain so that opportunity will be short lived. In the evenings I would use some Yellow Sally stonefly patterns.
Fishing in the Park is very, very good. Anglers are amazed. Of course they are still remembering the last two years when the rivers down low were warm and just a series of puddles during the summer.
A friend of mine contacted me yesterday. She has a 5 year old nephew who is “eat up” with fishing according to her. She wants to see him fishing more. I thought about a lot of things a 5 year old can do. Fly fishing is probably not a viable option right now, especially for trout in a Smokies stream covered with canopy. But bait fishing in a pond or lake would be good. A 5 year old wants to catch fish.
We have access to plenty of large private stocked ponds around here. Paula and I could take her and the nephew to them. Our new boat (when it finally comes in) is big enough for three adults and a kid. Gatlinburg has a kids only stream stocked with big trout. And there is a guide on Fort Loudon that I read about who will pick clients up on the river in downtown Knoxville.
It does my heart good to hear about a 5 year old who loves fishing. That takes me back 53 years. I bet I can still put a worm on a hook though I have not tried in a long time. I know I can still hook a minnow through the lips.
I don’t know this little fella yet but I bet when I see him I will see me 53 years ago. I have a picture of me and Brack Maupin on my desk. He was a friend of the family who took me fishing when I was five years old. In that black and white photo I’m sitting in the back of the boat with Brack wearing my little orange life jacket. Brack is steering the boat. The boat is almost exactly like the one Paula and I have ordered. When I was researching boats I wanted one like Brack’s. I hope to get it this week. It is pretty much a replica of one built in the late 40’s though the seams are welded, not riveted. Other than that, they are pretty much the same.
Have a great day and thank you for being here with us.
July 6, 2009
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