View Full Version : Very Interesting conversation!!!

Hugh Hartsell
01-04-2011, 12:59 PM
This morning I took Boomer down to the Launch Ramp just below Cherokee Dam and I let him out to run and get some excerise. Another fellow pulled up just after I let him out and backed his truck down the ramp to the edge of the river. He proceeded to get his rod from the truck and started fishing. I watched one of the resident Bald Eagles take off from the river just below the dam and I walked down to ask the gentleman if there were shad still coming downstream this morning. This turned into a conversation about trout fishing in the river and he asked if I flyfished, to which I replied that, I did. We commented about the nice fish that were in the river this year and he asked me if I had ever fished at Elkmont, in the Smokies. That got my interest even more and I replied that, " I have for many years." He proceded to tell me about a brown trout that he caught in 1978 just below the first bridge that you cross as you are starting back downstream from the "Elkmont turnin."He said that he caught a 16 pound brown trout on a stonefly nymph that was tied by a flytier from the Poconos. He said that he had the fish mounted and that Park officials said that it was a Park record as far as they knew. He is sending me a picture of the fish that he had mounted and is on the wall at his home. I'll try to either put in on the board or my website when I receive it.

Paula Begley
01-04-2011, 02:45 PM
Here's the photo Hugh sent:


It's kind of hard to tell how big it is without a point of reference on the size. I wonder what the girth was...


01-04-2011, 02:50 PM
Geez! That's AWESOME. Didn't think a trout could get that big.

01-04-2011, 09:33 PM
At first glance; I would guess that fish to be around 5-6 lbs. However; it is hard to gauge without having more information. Here is a 16 lb. brown caught on the Clinch last summer. Hugh, you probably can gauge size better than most. Interesting conversation and picture.


Hugh Hartsell
01-04-2011, 10:18 PM
I was a little bit like you might have been at first look at the picture. There are not a lot of reference points. I took the picture that he sent to me and moved it to My Pictures and enlarged it . Look at the window sashes that are beside it. That is a 1/2 size window and we have some that I measured at 36 inches. In the full sized pictured the fish is almost as long as the length of the curtains. There is a new calendar just underneath it that is 10-12in. wide. The fish is 3 times as long as the calendar is wide. That makes me think that the numbers he gave with the picture are right. 16 lbs. and 32 inches long. He said that the fish took him down the river for almost 1/8 of a mile. He said that people were stopping all along the road and watching and that some fellow finally came along and had a net. He came down to the creek and helped to land the fish. The identification tag that is on the plaque reads
16lb. brown
National Park Record
Chuck Reedy

Maybe I'll get the chance to visit him and see the fish for myself. I'm sure envious of him.

01-05-2011, 12:42 PM
Looking at the map that should be about right below where Poplar Branch comes in about halfway to Metcalf bottoms. That's a beauty whatever the weight and girth are for sure!!

01-05-2011, 06:15 PM

Sure is good to see you back on the board! Thanks for the story.

01-05-2011, 08:37 PM
Interesting story. I checked Don Kirk's book, Smoky Mountains Trout Fishing Guide, 1997 edition. It mentions the 16 pound record brown but doesn't go into any detail. Like Paul Harvey, now you know the rest of the story! Thanks, Hugh!

Jim Casada
01-09-2011, 09:43 AM
Hugh--Really interesting material, and I'm always fascinated by Park history, piscatorial or otherwise. I do have one general quesiton for you and others. Exactly how was it determined this is a Park record? To my knowledge no official records of Park fish have ever been kept. If they have, I certainly would appreciate information and sources for checking on such records.
Record or not, that's a monstrous brown trout. I knew of one 29 inches in length caught in Deep Creek when I was a youngster, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't weighed. Also, my father and others felt it was a hatchery brood fish which had been stocked. I don't know that browns were ever stocked in Park waters other than Luftee, but in the case of Deep Creek it would have been easy enough for a stocked fish to swim upstream from state waters. Furthermore, this fish was caught only a quarter of a mile or so inside the Park (at the foot of Toms Branch Falls).
Good to see your name on the Forum again.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

01-09-2011, 11:24 AM
Another account of a 32 incher... fact or myth? Not sure...

A work associate and my son were in a meeting this past June. He had a Little River Outitters shirt on so they started talking. (He said he is the boy in the photo.) He said his great uncle caught the fish on a fiberglass cane pole with the fly line wrapped around the end and some monofilament tied to it with a homemade fly. He said he thought his line was stuck, but then the fish took off and actually beached itself. Said he was at Sugarlands visitor center a couple of weeks later and the ranger or wildlife guy said they would pay to have it mounted if they could hang it up in the museum for a couple of months. (The ranger had apparently been approved for a transfer sometime earlier.) Word had it he walked up and down the rivers showing off the fish that “he” had caught. Upon his transfer he apparently moved on along with the fish never to be seen again.

The associate said he got the LRO shirt a few years back before a Tellico trip and that Paula recognized his last name and asked about the mythical fish. He had the clipping in the car and when he came back in, everyone in the store was already gathered around. One gentleman working there apparently looked at the photo and walked off saying “well I guess the myth is true”.

Perhaps Paula will recall this.


01-09-2011, 11:50 AM
32" and 16 pounds would be about right.

A friend just sent me a picture of a recently caught 16+ pound Brown from the White in Arkansas - it measured 32 1/2" with a 19" girth.

01-09-2011, 01:04 PM

I think you're right about the browns coming up into the park from state waters. The brookies are apparently doing that also. The park records and information that I have seen on line with regards to fish are woefully out of date with reality.

I believe that all the information the fish needs is that which is in their DNA when they are hatched, regardless of their "birthing process". Many people say hatchery fish are not true trout, but I believe that after a period of time in the wild they defer to the "memory banks" in their DNA and learn from there, as do all other wild fish. They are certainly all on their own after they hatch, regardless. Hatchery fish will learn that they have to hunt for their food after they are released into the wild or die. Nothing stronger than the survival instinct. I also believe they will swim upstream for many miles if necessary to satisfy their instinct to reproduce, even if their olefactory senses can't pin point their exact hatching spot because they were hatched in a tank. I also believe that there has probably been a lot of stocking going on that the fish and wildlife folks don't know about. And I think there is much to the equation that we still have to learn from our finned friends.

I'm sure you already knew all of this but just wanted to reiterate it as I have seen some really big browns and brook trout in park waters where they supposedly weren't supposed to be. Last October a fellow camper took a 9+ pound Brown from a hole in the Bradley Fork a ways upstream. He wouldn't say exactly where he caught it, but I saw the fish, maybe twenty five inches, maybe longer. He hadn't measured it but had weighed it with pocket scales. I believe it swam upstream from the Raven Fork confluence of the Luftee or from enterprise waters and decided that the Bradley was its spawning grounds. But who knows for sure!

I also saw a huge brown in the Little River back a few years ago when it was so low that old fish wiers built over a hundred years were visible. It was down stream from Elkmont past the big bend in the river before the turn off on Little River road. Some hikers pointed it out to me from a high bank along the road. I was in the river in shallow water at the time and couldn't see it till I climbed the bank. It was huge, but I couldn't really gage the length of it, I guess maybe 30 inches. The water was so clear I could readily see it was a brown. The time was also in the fall, it was headed upstream toward Elkmont, maybe preparing to spawn.

Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!:biggrin:

Hugh Hartsell
01-09-2011, 01:16 PM
Good morning Jim,
I wish that I could give you a definitive answer to your question about how a Park record was determined, but all I can give is my best guess at this time. I am going to try to see the gentleman that caught the fish and ask him. My best guess would be that he may have shown some of the Park Rangers the mounted fish and asked them about how it ranked with any others they had a record of?? I would also surmize that they told him from any knowledge they had at the time they they had not heard of or seen any fish that were any larger than his. This is just speculation on my part and I'll try to find out more if I can run into him again. I did a Google search on "the largest fish ever caught in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park" and I came up with a good link. Try this and scroll all the way to the bottom. There are some interesting pictures. http://www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/upload/fish-facts.pdf
Everybody have a good day.

01-09-2011, 01:38 PM
Dang. Look at the size of that brown from Cataloochee.

Jim Casada
01-09-2011, 05:16 PM
Hugh--Interesting find on the big fish photos. Although I have no real way of proving it, although I do think I have old black-and-white photos somewhere, I've caught several rainbows over the years larger (though not a lot) than the one taken from Hazel Creek. I might add that all of them were caught decades ago, and in the 1960s I hooked four or five 'bows which would have gone close to two feet. I don't think rainbows that large exist in the Park anymore.

Let me (indeed, all of us) know what else you learn. I do remember several tales, over the years, of huge browns coming out of Cataloochee. Most of them were purportedly caught down in the gorge.

Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Jim Casada
01-09-2011, 05:20 PM
Whitefeather--On the "migrating" fish, I know beyond any reasonable doubt that some of the fish being stocked by the Tribal Fisheries folks are moving way upstream in Luftee, and it wouldn't be at all surprising to learn they had advanced as far as Bradley Fork. I spent considerable time in Luftee this year, covering pretty much all of it from the junction with Raven Fork all the way up to Minnie Ball Branch and beyond (in other words, to the point where it has changed names to Beech Flats Prong). I caught dozens of trout--'bows, browns, and specks--which had all the indicators of stocked fish (rubbed or missing fins, scars, indifferent coloration, etc.). There's no doubt they'll move many miles.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Hugh Hartsell
01-09-2011, 06:19 PM
Because of the time of the year and bad weather it gives me more time to reflect back on past events and try to recall all of the large fish that I have seen or hooked into while in the Park. It's a look into the past and maybe a perspective of what we might see in the future. When I was younger I used to see many rainbows in the Park that looked like they might reach 20 inches or better. The last large one that I hooked was about 4 years ago and it was about 18 inches fishing just below the Elkmont Campgrounds. A year or so before that I caught one that was 16-1/2 long farther downstream. The best rainbow that I have taken from the Park was 22inches from Abrams Creek. That was about 7 years ago. There have been many from that stream that ranged from 14 - 18 inches long. The largest Brown that I have ever seen in the Park was in Abrams Creek and it was even bigger than any of the big ones we have looked at from the photos. It was roughly 37 inches long and more than 15 pounds. About 4 years ago I was guiding a client on the Oconaluftee River during the spawning season and we saw numbers of fish that ranged from 16- 32 inches. I'm sure they are still there. For many years I have said that Catalooche Creek was overrun with large browns. It was almost impossible to catch a nice rainbow from many of the large holes in the Gorge. They had all been eaten or driven off to secondary holding areas. Many of the larger rainbows were killed out of Park waters by the drought years. We are just now beginning to see larger fish make a comeback and I believe that we might see some very nice rainbows in Little River and some other streams on the Tennessee side in the next few years. They do not have to compete so strongly with dozens of smaller fish and the growth should be fast. Let's see if that happens.

Rog 1
01-09-2011, 10:02 PM
I have been fishing in the Park for 50 years but because of my location can only fish there a couple of times a year....I was up there in the mid 60 when the WPLP was a Sportsman's Stream and anything under 16 inches had to be tossed back...I had a friend that caught a 15" bow above HQ and it was not unusal to hook 12-14" bows regularly...did most of my fishing above Elkmont in my early years....largest trout I ever hooked was up Fish Camp Prong above where Goshen Creek comes in....this bow was as long as my forearm and as thick as my hand....still have dreams about that fish....used to see some huge bows in the large plunge pools up Fish Camp Prong but bait fisherman got to them...these fish were so big my buddy and I used to refer to them as torpedos....biggest fish I have caught in the Park was a 16" bow....those fish will take your breath away....

01-10-2011, 09:26 AM
I'm wondering how many of these "monsters" are actually released to fight again?? I'm sure there have been some brutes caught that were released, and with the mindset now of conservation first, it's a little strange to see the photos of these big browns strung up at the country store. Don't get me wrong, I love to eat fish, and I keep a few each year but I feel a lot better about it keeping the stockers down in the private waters and releasing the fish in the park where I know they are not artificially replenished. A couple of bad spawns and it really takes a toll, especially with all the pressure those streams receive. I'd like to think if I ever did hook a "monster" I'd CPR it, but, as of yet, I'm not even close to having that dilemma! I sure hope to find out one 'o these days though!http://littleriveroutfitters.com/forum/images/icons/icon10.gif

Rog 1
01-10-2011, 01:08 PM
You never know until it happens....all my youth I hunted largemouth bass looking to put a 10 pounder on the wall....lost three that would have done the trick....finally got one that was about 12 pounds when I was in my late 30s....took a lot of photos and admired the fish while it revived and then let it swim away....hard to pull a gene pool like that out of production.

01-10-2011, 05:11 PM
Love this thread.

Biggest fish I've caught in the park was a 14" brown. Actually, it wasn't me, it was my smart aleck teen age son (but I did put him on the fish so I can claim it right??). He caught it just upstream from the Metcalf Bottoms picnic area. It was a brute and fought like a much larger fish.

He has caught much larger fish, but that fish was a real treat coming from the Smoky's stream.


Jim Casada
01-10-2011, 06:57 PM
Rog 1 and Bran--There was also a trophy stream on the N. C. side in the same time period. It was Bradley Fork, and rest assured it had 16-inch (and bigger) rainbows in it. As a teenager I caught a few rainbows of that size and larger in Deep Creek and hooked a bunch. Unfortunately I knew so little I didn't understand how to play a fish from the reel (and my reel only had a click drag anyway).
As for keeping trophy fish, even as wall hangers, there's no need today. Some quick measurements and a couple of photos can lead to a plastic mount which will last much loner and look much better than the old-time skin mounts.

Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

01-11-2011, 07:48 PM
What a great thread! I've yet to catch my Smokies monster, but I'm sure he's out there...and I may never get him, but that's ok. If I catch a few and get to enjoy the mountains, that's enough for me. But those are some monster fish! ;) Thanks for sharing that Hugh!

01-11-2011, 11:06 PM
I hope I'm not doing anything wrong by posting a hyperlink to this picture and some of you probably know this fellow in this blog but here's a sweet speck that supposed to be a southern strain form the Smokies:

01-11-2011, 11:10 PM
Ahaa, after I linked it I saw it had a link to "LRO comments", duh! Anyhow it's worthy of a "monster trout" thread for sure! Congrats to the gent that caught this brute!
Just another reminder that they're being caught, they're there, all the pieces just have to fall together on that one single cast.

01-14-2011, 02:17 PM
Looks like the real thing to me. And also, after a few clicks, tells me where to NOT bother fishing this year. Do we really feel the need to disclose every special place on the internet? I mean, don't get me wrong - it's not this is a "secret location" but couple it with that photograph and....well,....whatever....

01-15-2011, 08:19 PM
Looks like the real thing to me. And also, after a few clicks, tells me where to NOT bother fishing this year. Do we really feel the need to disclose every special place on the internet? I mean, don't get me wrong - it's not this is a "secret location" but couple it with that photograph and....well,....whatever....

Who decides what places are special ?