View Full Version : new brookie rules

03-21-2006, 05:42 PM
Immediate Release Contact: Bob
Date: March 21, 2006

Smokies Opens Park Streams to Brook Trout Fishing

For the first time in over 30 years anglers at Great Smoky

National Park will be allowed to catch and keep brook trout under new

experimental Park fishing regulations that take affect April 15.

Since 1976 the National Park Service has allowed anglers to fish

non-native rainbow and brown trout, but they have been prohibited from

possessing the Park's native brook, or "speckled" trout, or from
fishing in

over 150 miles of Park streams where "brookies" predominate. Rainbows

browns were stocked in the Park in the early 20th century after

logging practices nearly wiped out the native brook trout.

Biologists in the early '70's were convinced that brook trout

systematically losing range to the non-native fish and predicted that,

unless measures were taken, the brook trout would only be found
upstream of

natural barriers by the year 2000. Park managers also believed that

fishing pressure was further reducing brook trout densities. In

to these concerns managers closed the Park to brook trout fishing in

and initiated brook trout restoration projects in select streams.

Thirty years later Park fisheries biologists have found that

"brookies" are able to co-exist with the non-native trout in 69 miles

Park streams. Park fisheries managers have successfully restored 17

of stream to pure brook trout population using a combination of

electro-fishing and through the use of chemicals to remove non-native

from steam segments that lie above waterfalls and other barriers that

prevent upstream movement of fish.


Brook Trout Fishing page 2 of 3

After over 25 years of monitoring trout and non-game populations

fished vs. closed streams, Park biologists had observed that natural

occurrences such as floods and droughts were the major force behind

in fish populations in both open and closed streams. They suspected

allowing angling for brook trout would have no measurable impact on

their numbers or their average size.

In 2002 Park biologists tested that hypothesis by experimentally

opening eight streams (4 in TN, 4 in NC) to fishing and harvest for 3

under the normal GRSM fishing regulations (i.e. 5 fish per day limit,

7-inch minimum size, and single hook artificial lures only). Each

that was open had a nearby control stream which remained closed.

Biologists analyzed population data within each stream (both open and

closed) for three years prior to and three years after brook trout

was opened.

The study found there were no significant differences in brook

density or the number of legal brook trout brook trout in any stream

to brook trout fishing during the study period. Variation which did

was attributed to natural variation and was not related to open vs.

In interviews conducted during the experiment over 84% of anglers

said they were moderately to extremely pleased with the brook trout

opportunity. The largest segment of the anglers (25-27%) cited the

opportunity to catch a brook trout as the main reason for fishing that

particular stream that day. Anglers caught an average of 5-11 fish per

trip, but less than 33% of anglers kept the legal brook trout they

"Given that we could find no ecological benefit to prohibiting

anglers from taking brook trout," said Park Supervisory Fisheries

Biologist, Steve Moore, "and the opportunity to offer anglers a very

enjoyable experience, Park management has decided to open nearly all

streams to fishing."

"So on April 15," Moore concluded, "All but a handful of the

700 miles of Park streams will be opened to fishing as part of an

experimental regulation to allow additional time to monitor impacts of

fishing activity.


Brook Trout Fishing page 3 of 3

"A few short stream segments will still be closed during

brook trout restoration projects. This spring, for example, parts of

Creek, Bear Creek, and Indian Flats Prong Streams, which have been

restored, will remain closed while those populations continue to
rebuild to

carrying capacity. Once these streams reach carrying capacity, they

be reopened to fishing as well."

Park managers say that the experimental monitoring period will

provide them additional time to be sure that the changes in use do not

unexpected and negative affects on brook trout. Managers will also need

time to complete a required federal rule-making process needed to

current provisions in the Code of Federal Regulations which do not

brook trout fishing in the Smokies. In the near future the Park also

to release an Environmental Assessment for public review of the

rule change.

* * * NPS * * *

Byron Begley
03-21-2006, 06:35 PM
I thought this was going to be released later this week and I've been keeping my mouth shut. *This is big news. I can't wait to see what anglers think about this. *Steve Moore and Matt Kulp know their data and they know what they are doing. *But, this is still going to be some interesting conversation. I can't wait.


03-21-2006, 08:21 PM
I know two streams that I will be on on April 15th or soon after. Hope we're not all tripping over each other. :D

David Knapp
03-21-2006, 08:26 PM
I am really excited about having new streams to explore. I love fishing the small streams and this will open a lot more up to fishing. I think that the remoteness of many streams will help make this work okay. However, I would also like to see some rules such as catch and release for brookies. This is a great resource that should not be endangered in any way. Like Byron said though, the guys in charge know what the numbers are and they are the experts so if they say it is ok, then I'm all for this!

David Knapp

03-22-2006, 01:24 PM
"Anglers caught an average of 5-11 fish per trip, but less than 33% of anglers kept the legal brook trout they caught. "

I just hope this stastic stays that way. If it does not, then the "results" of this study could actually be alot different. But, I'm no biologist.
This could, perhaps create some mighty unused streams while everyone is off bushwhackin'! :)

03-22-2006, 04:26 PM
Great! I know of a big brookie that I will pursue come April 15th, . :D

I don't think this will hurt at all. The only negatives as I see it is the potential for more litter on the streams.

03-22-2006, 04:35 PM
The March 2006 issue of Fly Rod & Reel was pretty much dedicated to the most beautful of all fish, the Brook Trout. Included in the section on the southern Brook Trout was noted a study being done on the "Brookies" in the GSMNP. It includes some of the information in the "Immediate Release" posted by sammcdonald. As a non-resident of Tennessee but a lover of the park and ALL the fish in it I hope all anglers will use good judgment when considering killing a fish for the table. I am not against using the resource just against abusing it.

I have found it much easier to have my fish at Long John Silvers and Captain D's. No cleaning, no cooking and no smelly hands. It is seldom in life that we get to correct our mistakes of the past, especially in the realm of fish and wildlife, and in my humble opinion this is one that does not need to be screwed up again.

Might I be so bold as to suggest that if you release an undersize fish that you suspect may not survive that it be counted as part of you daily limit. I can't improve on what Henry David Thoreau said, "Many fish their entire lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after".

Once again, this message board is an excellent forum. Great job LRO!

gary <*))))><

03-22-2006, 09:57 PM
I think this is GREAT news. * Ive also heard that logging doesnt really affect their populations either. * In fact, I understand it essentially kills off some of the younger ones, you know, kinda chokes them out, but it'll leave more food for the older ones so they can get bigger. * YEA BABY, thats what Im talking about! * *

03-23-2006, 08:07 AM
Being a spec chaser, there are too many things to love about these little jewels, there created beauty, the small stream upper elevation terrain they swim in, and thier desire to always eat a dry...
While I've always hoped to seek out that 'holy grail' of a 12"er, I think that these stream openings gives us an more than just the opprotunity to find out if there are larger brookies out there. In addition to the whole new realm of exploring, I like the connection with the past of being able to drift flies in the waters of yesteryear as it were so.
Hopefully we'll learn from yeasteryear and all do our part to be good stewards of these streams and waters - I agree that trash may be the single biggest issue...especially a couple of those easier to access waters. Carry a small trash bag and carry some out, cause you know there will be...
Not only that - I'm curious if there will be an increase of bear encounters now that there'll be even more people in the backcountry with luch strapped to there waists :o.


03-23-2006, 11:43 AM
DARN IT- I'll be in the park the 10th and head home on the 13th. Please pity me I've got to get ready to go to the Fla. and the Keys. ;D

I don't think litter will be that much of a problem. I believe most of the litter along the stream, comes from day or over night hikers. I use the ziplock I carried my lunch in to pick up on the way out.

Once the novelty of the open brookie streams wears off, I don't think there will be that much pressure. "TRUE BLUE LINERS" will respect the resource. Any hooking mortallity might actually benefit the streams by some needed thinning out. Those streams carry only so much food.

I've seen more bears down lower so they can be anywhere. When I "backcountry it" I usually hike in with a day pack and change to waders there. I then run my hiking shoes, rain coat, LUNCH, etc. up BETWEEN some trees on HEAVY STRING. Have fished all day and never had Mice, Coons or larger wildlife get into it. I usually fish up to my pack, eat lunch, then fish past it. I found I carry to much "IN CASE" stuff with me while fishing. Just carry a chocolate bar and granola.

I don't think we will make much if any impact on those streams.

03-23-2006, 05:00 PM
I'm willing to give the Park fish management staff the benefit of the doubt. *They have worked long and hard for the benefit of our brookies - don't think they are planning on throwing that all away.

The biggest test will be the observance of "Smoky Mountain Etiquette" on the backcountry waters on the 15th!!! or is it "Every man for himself"?

See http://lradmin.itc.net/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1138978956