July 15, 2009
Welcome to the Fishing Report. It is a cool morning in the Smokies. And it is going to be cooler as the days go by. By the weekend highs will be in the 70’s at elevation 2000 feet. We’ll see the low 80’s in the valley. Townsend is fairly quiet. Yesterday I drove by one of the tubing businesses and I never saw so many cars there. Through town the tubers were out in droves enjoying the cool water and good flows. I didn’t see any tubers in the Park. There were some people pulled over on the Middle Prong swimming in the deeper pools and I saw a few fishermen.
The water is cool and the flow is just barely below normal for this date. Currently the flow at the “Y” is 117 cubic feet per second. Normal for this date is 129 cfs. The lowest flow ever recorded on this date was in 2007 at 35 cfs. You remember, that was the first bad summer of the drought that just ended early this year.
I ran into three customers who had fished the high elevation brook trout streams that feed Walker Camp Prong. Between them they caught about 60 brookies. They said the water temperature up there was 55 degrees. I was just below the confluence of Lynn Camp Prong and Thunderhead Prong yesterday afternoon. The water temperature there was 65 degrees. So, the water is in good shape for fishing and it’s only going to get better by the weekend unless we get blown out by rain. We may get some today through Friday.
Green Weenies are in full production here in my office as I write. Brian has been on vacation and he keeps us stocked up. We ran out for the first time this year last weekend. Bill and Daniel tied some to keep us going. We’ll be back to full inventory levels by this afternoon.
If you go fishing a Green Weenie is one of the flies I would pick. Ants, Beetles and small foam rubber legged terrestrials in black will work. I would have some Yellow Sally stonefly patterns and green Elk Hair Caddis. Use light tippet today and tomorrow if the rains don’t raise the stream’s levels.
Fishing is going to be better in the higher elevation streams today but as we cool off you should do fine in the lower streams. We will have lows at night in the 40’s and 50’s up high where these streams are born over the next few days.
Well, yesterday was the big day. The Park Service stocked over 350 brook trout in Lynn Camp Prong. This will be the first of many stocking projects from now until October in that stream. The brook trout for yesterday’s event came from Cosby Creek. They are pure Southern Appalachian strain brook trout. Future stocking brood fish will come from other streams in the Park. This is the strain that moved here during the ice age. Their lineage goes back much longer than I can remember.
The plan was to meet at the trailhead sometime around 1:00 pm. Steve Moore was going to call me from his cell phone and let me know when they would get there. I worried about his cell phone working in the Park so I left at noon. Sure enough, he called Park Service Headquarters on is radio and had them call the shop. His cell phone wouldn’t work. I had left anyway.
This was also a media event. I was the first to arrive. Then Doug Mills who is films the Heartland Series pulled in. Soon after, Bill Landry who is the star of the show arrived. I’ve known both of those guys for years but I know Bill better. Bill is a fly fisherman and customer. We sat on the tailgate of his truck and waited. It is amazing how many hikers came off that trail and recognized him. Here is a You Tube story produced about him.
About 2:00 all the action started. Rick Bivens and Carl Williams from Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency arrived on the scene with a small hatchery truck filled with brook trout. A Park Service truck towing a huge 6 wheel ATV was right behind them. Trucks with the Fisheries Crew arrived as did writers, the Park’s webmaster and another video film maker.
Steve Moore and Matt had all the details worked out as usual. Fisheries seasonal workers walked up the stream and waited at pre-determined locations. Three large coolers were already loaded into the ATV. Large heavy plastic bags would hold the brook trout temporarily. The bags were filled about halfway full of stream water. Ice cubes made from spring water were added to the bags. About 50 brook trout were poured into the bags which were held tight and oxygen was pumped in from a small tank. Two thick rubber bands that were held open with a calf castrating tool sealed off the bags. They were loaded into the coolers. Away we went.
Most of us hiked to the stocking locations and waited for Steve who was driving the ATV. When he arrived a bag was pulled out of the vehicle and taken to the stream. The brookies were released. We hiked another 200 to 300 yards and waited for Steve. Before the trout were released at each location the guys in the Fisheries Crew would wait for us to set up camera tripods and get ready for the release.
At the end of the day we all got together and enjoyed the moment. This was one of the last steps of the largest brook trout restoration project in the Smokies. A few lucky people got to be there for the event that made history. A writer from North Carolina told me this was the largest brook trout restoration project anywhere. I may not have completely understood him or maybe it was.
Lynn Camp Prong is over 8 miles long, it is a mid-elevation stream with easy access. The carrying capacity of the stream is 3,000 trout per mile. We are all hoping that in three to five years there will be about 25,000 wild brook trout living there. When that happens it will be open to fishing.
Steve and I joked about opening day. We decided it might be a good idea to go in about three months before it opens with fly rods and test the stream’s fly fishing potential so when it does open, we can verify the stories. So there would be an opening day and there would be an OPENING DAY.
Have a great day and thank you for being here with us.
July 15, 2009
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