View Full Version : Don't Ask, Don't Tell????

10-05-2006, 10:05 AM
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”???

During the past several years we have all observed significant increases in the number of fishermen in the Park. * Certain streams, (or certain sections of streams), have experienced tremendous increases in the number of rods on the water. *These streams are the ones that receive regular (aka constant) write-ups on various web sites and in newsletters. * You know which streams these are.

“Joe and his buddy caught 150 fish, all over 12 inches, before lunch, on the lower prong of the Big ElkTree River.” * Next weekend, and probably for rest of the year, you will see that section of the Big ElkTree packed! * When its not packed, even on water that has been good to you in the past – it’s not so good now. * You never caught 150, but for years you would always get 20 or more, many of them keeping size. * Now you feel lucky if you get half a dozen on the ol’ ElkTree.

I understand that packed rivers are good for commerce. * Shops, guides, hotels, restaurants and gas stations all see a short term benefit from high numbers of fishermen in the Park. *Some even believe that constant high pressure on these streams is good for the fish. * *I don’t doubt that these people want to encourage more people to fish the Park.

My question is this. *What ever happened to time honored tradition that fishermen wouldn’t even tell their mother where the good water was? *In today’s internet world, regular write-ups on how good the fishing is on the lower prong of the Big ElkTree River will get that water slammed!! * Maybe that’s OK. *

David Knapp
10-05-2006, 10:41 AM
Great topic LRMike...I think you answered your own question to some extent, the part about it being a time-honored tradition. Many fisherman today are relatively new to the sport and probably have not had anyone to show them the great traditions associated with our pastime. I myself am almost totally self-taught except for one half day guide trip I took to learn to fish nymphs. I never had anyone to teach me fly fishing growing up. When I was first getting started a few years ago, I would ask questions on boards such as this and usually didn't get too many responses and wondered why no one was very friendly ::), now that I've had time to learn more about this great sport, I understand why people were somewhat tight-lipped. I think it is all a matter of education for the most part. When people realize how precious the resource is, they will be much quicker to protect it to the utmost. A lot of people just don't know any better...

I believe some discretion should be used by everyone when giving advice, stream reports, etc. However, people are going to find out about our water, so give some advice. Tell them were your favorite road-side stream is were you can see the traffic rolling by all day and tourists will stop and take your picture. If they know what they are doing, they'll still catch fish and think it was the greatest place ever. Save those remote streams that you have to hike several miles to for them to discover on their own. 8-)

So, I know of this brookie stream absolutely full of 10-12 inch brookies, no joke! It is in the vicinity of.......... ;D

10-05-2006, 10:46 AM

Hopefully in this age of the internet the fishermen will also be able to learn more about the 1,000's of miles of great trout water within a 50 mile radius of inside and outside the Park, and take some of the pressure off that Big Elk Tree River. *;)


10-05-2006, 11:29 AM
:-X :-X :-X :-X ;)


10-05-2006, 12:36 PM
This stuff has been beaten to death in the past and I have taken many abusive comments and emails over the years regarding this. I have fished for 30 years and fly fished for 15. I don't consider myself uneducated and I know my fly fishing history more than most. I just want to say that people who believe in witholding information are kidding themselves. Fishing and flyfishing is actually experiencing a decline. License sales are down in most states. If revenues are down the resources to protect and conserve are not there and this will ultimately have a trickle down effect and it will lead to taxpayers not wanting to spend money on conservation and wildlife. If PETA and others get more clout fishing will eventually be outlawed. I guess what I am trying to say is that I take an opposite view on this and respectfully disagree. I am in no way trying to start an argument just expressing my opposing view. I know for a fact that in Europe the governments have started to question fishing and if it is even ethical beacuse people have left the sport and the public have been persuaded to believe it to be a relic from the past which should be abolished. Just my 2 cents worth.

10-05-2006, 12:54 PM
I used to be like littlerivermike and not tell where the really good holes are but after fishing for a while I realized I could catch fish, where people where that morning, you just have to figure out what the fish like. It is kind of like a challenge to me and that is what I love about flyfishing. Someone taught me so I figured I would help someone else out along the way. But don't get me wrong I do like to keep some of my peaceful and less crowded spots a secret jus to smell the fresh air and feel like it is just me and the wild.

10-05-2006, 01:19 PM
I have been fly fishing in the GSMNP for about 5yrs now. The First couple of years were rough, I would catch one or two trout per trip. I have improved my skills enough now that I catch several small trout per trip. Having said this, I started fishing the road sides spots then moved up some of the streams that have be suggested to me over the years, But now I am at the point where part of the fun is exploring new places and learning to read the waters. The general suggestions have helped me get started, but now I pefer looking on a topo map and plan a day hike to remote back country. I pefer to find the honey holes myself. I will ask for general information, which I feel does not hurt. But I want to find the back country honey holes on my own.

10-05-2006, 01:28 PM
I used to be like littlerivermike and not tell where the really good holes are but after fishing for a while I realized I could catch fish, where people where that morning, you just have to figure out what the fish like. It is kind of like a challenge to me and that is what I love about flyfishing. *Someone taught me so I figured I would help someone else out along the way. But don't get me wrong I do like to keep some of my peaceful and less crowded spots a secret jus to smell the fresh air and feel like it is just me and the wild.

Well said

10-05-2006, 03:36 PM
I am new to fly fishing but have fished my whole life. I know in more populated areas those secret Honey Holes are more protected but everyone I know from bass fishing shares information. They may not tell everything about how they caught them and where but they do make suggestions.

Fly Fishing is a little different. Without information given on this board and given at LRO I would have quit already. People are little more tight lipped but most I have encountered are still willing to share and help. I appreciate that.

Anyway most people new to the sport (Including myself) are not very likely to get to far off the beaten path. I think sharing information is a good thing but also keeping a little spot special to yourself off the beaten path is good too.

10-05-2006, 04:16 PM
Several have misread or misinterpreted my post. *Allow me to try again.

1) Can’t speak for anywhere else…..but by my observation, fly fishing in the Park has grown dramatically. *25 years ago it was rare to see a single fisherman on Park waters on any day. *Now I can see 20+ a day in the Park.
2) The largest percentage of increase is on 5 stream sections, all within sight or short walk of a Park road, easy to find, easy to get to. *Not surprisingly, they all shared a recent past history of good fishing.
3) There is a substantial difference between telling a friend where the fishing has been good, (every fisherman has done this and will continue to do this), and on the other hand, telling 7,000,000 people where same specific “hot spots” are in the Park.
4) That there may be the possibility that with so many people so willing and so able to tell so many other people where the “hot spots” are….that those spots, those 5 streams….could receive a disproportionately large part of this increased pressure. *
5) That maybe all this increase pressure on the same few miles of the 1000, could result in degradation in the fishing experience on those same streams. *And as I said…maybe that’s OK. *

These are more personal observations (ponderings if you will) than hard line positions. *If I have a point, and I’m not sure I do, it is that I will continue to tell my friends about my good days and where I have found fish….I just hope they decide not to tell their 7,000,000 internet buddies.

10-05-2006, 04:28 PM
:) ;)


Paula Begley
10-05-2006, 04:29 PM

I am sorry, but we will continue to share information with our customers via the fishing report. Then again, our posting and view numbers haven't reached 7 million....yet! ;)


10-05-2006, 05:09 PM
Understood! * *If I had a gas station, motel, guide service, tube rental business, etc. in the area I would wish for twice the customers next year that I had this year. * *If I get my wish, there might be an undesireable consequence to the waters of the Park.

David Knapp
10-05-2006, 06:25 PM
That maybe all this increase pressure on the same few miles of the 1000, could result in degradation in the fishing experience on those same streams.


Could you clarify what you mean about the degradation in the fishing experience? I am interested in understanding your viewpoint.

I believe that there are more people fly fishing now. Overall, fishing may be down but I think that there are more fly fisherman out there so the streams are going to be more crowded. Just about any major destination out west you go to fish, the guides and fly shop owners can tell you plenty of stories about the good old days. Whether it is good or not, this is an aspect of our sport we need to face and accept. Things are going to change, including an increased number of people on the streams. It is this way with any outdoor pursuit. If you have a place that no one else ever goes, treasure it because these days, all the great places are being "discovered."

Once again, great topic!

10-05-2006, 06:35 PM
Okay, let me try expand on this. If every one and his brother and sister fish the rivers right off the blacktop then I should be able to find solitude with a ten minute walk from that particular spot. I understand the need for solitude and I sometimes like to fish in solitude myself, what differs from my opinion and some tight lipped peoples opinion is that I don't think it hurts the fishery a bit. In fact I encourage people to keep a fish or two if they live close by or can prepare the fish within reasonable time. I also think that if everyone is fishing let's say metcalf bottoms then after a while most people will give up because of the crowds and then in a little bit of time I will get the stream to myself again. I'm not trying to be a smartass about this but I believe there's room for everyone on these streams and when it get's crowded just walk and go somewhere else, or better yet join em'. I have found so many good friends on these streams and I'm going fishing tomorrow with one of those friends who I hooked up with thru a message board.

I agree with your analysis though, that the park is getting more crowded and I think that goes for all categories, campers, tubers, fishermen etc. I don't really worry about it too much because I have found that most fisherman who are not used to the smokies or a beginners in general give up the spot within an hour or so. You will be amazed on how little patience most people have if they don't catch a fish every five minutes. I have talked to numerous people in the park who claim there's no fish in here.

David Knapp
10-05-2006, 07:44 PM
I have talked to numerous people in the park who claim there's no fish in here.

Now if we can just convince everyone else... ::)

10-05-2006, 09:35 PM
As a fishery,the Smokies are getting better.Fisheries are judged by the size and the number of the fish that are caught.Like it or not,the better the fishing the more attention the park will get,and you know what happens next.A friend of mine,who owns a hotel in Gatlinburg,and is on the city council(or whatever it is called here)said ,at a meeting,projections from a marketing agency(the agency owned by Disney) impliedvisitors to SMNP will exceed 17million by 2015.How far will you need to hike?I say there is nothing that can be done,there are no options,the park will not be the same.I suppose we are fishing and living and hiking on memories just made....we are lucky,in a way,because we can fish,and know that ,now,as we fish,we are a part of the "good ol' days"

10-06-2006, 09:23 AM
The old times are gone and unfortunately, will not return. In my 35+ years of flyfishing, I have seen the numbers go up and down and a trip through a neighborhood yard sale will show you that there are alot of flyfisherman who do not stick with the sport. The downside to the current population visiting the GSMNP seems to be their lack of concern with littering and trashing the park. This also is apparent from a number of people fishing who will not pick up discarded tippets, flyline, etc. from the creek sides. This is in addition to the abundance of other trash that I pickup when fishing. Used to, I was able to pack a small trash bag and fill while fishing. I now carry a large trash bag and usually fill it on any given day. I would not discourage anyone picking up this wonderful sport and will share my knowledge gained with those who ask the questions. The downside to the increased pressure of fishing means some of us will have to hike a little further to reach that certain spot, which is getting harder as arthritis and the effects of age catch up.

10-06-2006, 09:37 AM
Interesting, if not a little sad, that today is next year’s “good ol’ days”. *The implication is that… of course fishing was better in years past than today…. And of course (because of ever increasing pressure) fishing will not be as good in the future as it is today. * This line of thought suggests that all that we can do is 1) enjoy today and 2) do our share to slow the decline of the fishing experience, (i.e. volunteer work with TU, Friends of the Smokies, etc.).

Lauxier, thanks for your perspective. * I’m afraid it contains a good amount of truth.

Also, thanks to all for your input re the back country waters…I understand and agree. *I know that walking an hour before starting to fish will bring one a different (many say better) experience than fishing close to your vehicle. *

As sometimes happens, a new topic can turn different directions, not anticipated by the poster. *I thought my topic would be just about recent observations concerning the easily accessible parts of the Little River and Little Pigeon watersheds and the cultural shift from “don’t ask, don’t tell” fishermen to everyone tells everyone else (almost) everything. *I don’t think anyone can deny that there has been a shift. *Slowly first with books, then newsletters and now with the internet. * I just found myself wondering about the effect this phenomenon has had and will have on Park waters, but specifically these two watersheds. *

10-06-2006, 09:47 AM
I believe that anyone who flyfishes and finds a good spot or honeyhole as some might call it were told about that spot by someone else before they fished there. With the internet, more people can pick up on these spots when the info is passed along.

With regard to the Park, come on let's be honest, you don't have to tell anybody about the Little River along the Park road becuase everybody can see it when they drive by. The advice on the blue-liners up high, well if you have gone up after the Brookies up high, then you know if you ain't in good shape, you ain't going to do it.

I have been experiencing the Smokies at least once/year as a flyfisherman for the last 4 years. I have to say that people like tennswede( Hans), Hugh Hartsell and the people at LRO have been very helpful the last four years via the internet in providing just enough information to make my trips enjoyable and I greatly appreciate them.

10-06-2006, 09:58 AM
Ditto to what 18 said.



10-06-2006, 09:59 AM
I am a local TU member and having participated in stream count surveys over the years, I can tell you yhat there really are a lot of fish in these waters. I believe the biologist estimate 3000 per mile in the little river alone. This includes all trout and other species as well. (EX: chubs, Daces etc..) With over 700 miles of streams inside the GSMNP alone (not all fishable) one can definitely find some solitude with some planning. I agree the most accessable waters are getting more crowded especially on weekends but most experienced fly fishermen are curteous to each other and enjoy teaching and showing others new places and techniques. Im sure there are a lot of people on this board who would really like to meet and fish with others who share this same passion for fly fishing as me. Remember back when you started and why.

10-06-2006, 12:00 PM
I live in fla,about a 30 min. drive to p.c. beach. Mackeral and blues are running right now.Had a buddy call and said he would take me to his honey hole. People were litterally elbow to elbow. When you would cast your rod tip would hit the person behind you and your elbow would hit the person next to you if you weren't careful. On the river and creek where I fish for bream I have seen on a regular basis people catch coolers full of fish just to give away. You all have a long way to go before you are over populated with people. When I ask my buddies to go fishing with me up there the fish are too small and you have to walk to much.. What you have is special and it takes a special type of person to app. it. The people who read a web site and come up there to fish a hot spot will either learn that we don't fish there to catch a cooler full of fish or will become discouraged with it. This web site has told me some of the good places to fish, it has also taught me things like catch and release, I also know that some of you maybe any where at any time upthere and I better not get caught littering by one of you. the latter two would probly not sink in if it wasn,t for the first. I thank you all for helping me find those special places but for also teaching me to respect them. You can,t stop more people from coming in the park, but you can guide them in the right direction. which would you rather see a fisherman in your best spot on a day you were going to fish it picking up a empty coke can he found or some one who dosen't fish at all driving to cades cove throwing out that coke can? You can't stop either of them from coming but the latter ain't reading this web site!!!!!!!Don't ask ,Don't tell works both ways .YOu locals are the keepers of the gate,and from what I see are doing a fine job, thanks!!!!!!

10-06-2006, 12:28 PM
In response to lauxier, and his 17 million visitors. I am sure fishing pressure will increase, but most of those visitors will be drive by and say the roughed it and saw a bear folks. You know I was talking to someone the other day who has been going tp Gatlinburg with 24 other members of her family ofr the last 16 years, and they have never even been in the park. I wouldn't write the fishing off as ruined yet.

10-06-2006, 03:06 PM
Numbers of flyfishermen and women are down nationally. The flyshop owners and the outfitters who follow the industry trends (certainly LRO) can tell you this. Many of the young people are into extreme sports rather than ours.
As for posting on these boards; the readership is relatively small and (I bet) 90% of us arc C&R fishermen.
I will agree that Tremont hasn't fished nearly as well as it did when the road was closed and you had to walk, you know what though? I haven't fished Tremont in a couple of years, so I really have no idea how Tremont is fishing currently. As for the rest; the fish are there, numbers fluctuate with the weather/water.
The Park Service claims a 65% mortality rate annually just because of weather. If anything is causing a decline in the fishery it is the otters, though they are seldom seen.
I have been known to run off someone thinking about fishing right on top of me or trying to walk into a hole right above me. I have vowed to try and be friendly to the next person who seems to want to approach............as long as they don't then start fishing the hole above me!

I typically give someone at least 200 yards, if I see them before I get in.
I say be glad we have so much public water, there are countries where you could only look at the creek unless you were a member of the privileged class, or you would have to take classes for a couple of years to get certified to fish! What a hoot, I guess they're afraid someone is going to get out there and make a mess of things.

10-06-2006, 03:22 PM
arkansas traveler--Good post--you are right,exactly right.90 something percent of visitors coming to the Pigeon Forge-Gatlinburg-Dollywood--Factory Outlet-region of the Smokey Mountains are not fisherman.I did not mean to sound like I was throwing in the towel--in fact fishing on 2006 seems to be improving--much better than say in the late 70's.--I suppose the biggest issue facing the Park when and if the number of visitors increase is trash.I don't think we will see elbow to elbow ffishing on Little River anytime soon'.I do think roadsides providing easy access to trout streams will see increased pressure--and once again the trash issue comes up--Red Lodge,Montana,answered littering with large fines that are enforced,city hall dares visitors to be seen throwing a cigareete butt down.Like it or not,once the word gets around that SMNP rangersand true-blue locals will report littering ending in large fines(wheather you have the money to pay or not)then you see see folks think twice before throwing junk out of a car.