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StayLow
05-28-2007, 07:58 AM
I have seen pictures of people with stringers full of 20 inch brook trout caught in the Smoky Mountains around 1928. My understanding now is that there are no big fish because of the wide weather fluctuations (bitter cold winter, hot summer) in combination with the small stream size.
Did these brook trout really exist on a stream like Tremont or Lynn Camp? Was the Little River so heavily shaded that it supported (temperature wise) these fish down low (like even through Townsend)? I tend to think the forrest coverage must have been MUCH more that it is now and these fish were caught around where Townsend stands today.

Gerry Romer
05-28-2007, 12:34 PM
It's my understanding that the native (Southern Appalachian) Brook Trout was prolific throughout the park until the logging operations began to obliterate some of the streams and the subsequent introduction of the more aggressive brown and rainbow species. I'm sure someone on this board has a more thorough history to share.

Gerry

pineman19
05-28-2007, 01:24 PM
Hello,

I am curious if anyone else says 20" brook trout were common during the old days. Seems kinda big for Smoky freestone streams, but I would think the average size was bigger before acid rain, etc., and when the hill folks fished the streams heavily for food. Would like to hear some input from folks that know that period better.

Neal

Milton
05-28-2007, 01:57 PM
I don't know about 20 inchers, but I've seen old pictures of people with big stringers of brook trout that ran substantially bigger than the ones we catch now. I've wondered about it myself.

-Milton

Byron Begley
05-28-2007, 03:48 PM
I have a picture of Eddy George holding a brook trout that he caught in Alum Cave Creek. Next time you are in the shop you can see it in my office. Judging by the picture and personally knowing Eddy it was probably taken about forty years ago. I scanned Eddy's photo albums before he died. I asked him at the time about the size of the trout and I'm almost sure he said it was a stocker. I looks to be about 20". They stopped stocking in the Park in the early 70's but streams were stocked before that and with some large trout including brookies. They probably fed them too.

Byron

StayLow
05-28-2007, 04:56 PM
I have a copy of Steve Cotham's The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and I thought for sure I was going to be posting this with a source and date, but after flipping through the book I cannot find the picture I am remembering. Maybe I saw it on a wall in one of the local shops or exibits.

Byron brings up a good point...I suppose you can go to Cherokee now and get a stringer full og 15-23 inch fish now.

I guess since they didn't have the technology for color pictures in the 1920's, I just assumed they did not know how to stock a river.

Thank you

Byron Begley
05-28-2007, 06:07 PM
I just read some of my notes about Eddy George. I think the brook trout photo I spoke about above was taken in the early 1950's. By the way, Eddy came up with the George Nymph which has been used sucessfully to catch trout for decades. Eddy once told me about a small lake at Elkmont. Someone built a dam on the Little River and the lake held huge trout. I can't remember where it was exactly.

Byron

sammcdonald
05-28-2007, 08:21 PM
it was behind the spence cabin

Gerry Romer
05-28-2007, 11:09 PM
Byron --

I just have to say I get a real kick out of seeing your avatar. Not because I had anything to do with it... I just think it's appropriate, unique...

and hilarious!

Gerry

Jswitow
05-29-2007, 01:08 PM
I used to gobble up books about the Smokies, kinda got away from it. I remember reading about large stringers (actually sticks) with as many as 175 specs on them, the streams were full of them and they were small. They seem to have the ability to overpopulate a stream in short order, probably nature's way of helping them hold on through tough conditions (drought, flood, anchor-ice, indian fish traps!) I wonder how they are outcompeted here? Have you ever seen one throw a hook and come right back and hit it again on the next drift? I don't fish them all that much, but have seen them do this on many occasions. I sometimes wonder if they weren't just completely decimated in the lower elevations, when the forests were clearcut. It must have been a gross site to see the lower elevations clear cut as they were the streams full of silt, slash, logs and trash. Nobody thought of such things back then.
20" brookies live up North and in hatcheries. Sure would love to get to Labrador or Newfoundland to fish for them sometime, might have to try for Atlantics as well!
Best,
John

ijsouth
05-29-2007, 01:33 PM
From what I understand, the southern Appalachian strain tends to be smaller anyway - probably a product of the fact that the Smokies are near the southern limits of trout habitat. I love to fish for them - they are my favorites by far. The streams I've caught them in are all on the small side - there is probably an advantage for them to be limited in size; they can escape predators under rocks, etc a bit easier. Of course, the overall available food is meager compared to bigger streams with larger amounts of aquatic insects.

Troutman
05-29-2007, 01:58 PM
Don't know if we'll ever see a 20" native speck inside the park in our lifetime but hopefully when they reopen Sam's creek in a couple of years, we will see more in the 12"+ range.

backlash
05-29-2007, 03:01 PM
I just read some of my notes about Eddy George. I think the brook trout photo I spoke about above was taken in the early 1950's. By the way, Eddy came up with the George Nymph which has been used sucessfully to catch trout for decades. Eddy once told me about a small lake at Elkmont. Someone built a dam on the Little River and the lake held huge trout. I can't remember where it was exactly.

Byron


Does anyone know of a good source for old photos of elkmont, such as the Spence cabin? My wife is closely related to the Spence's. She would love to see pictures or read stories about the area.:smile:

Woody
05-30-2007, 02:48 PM
Backlash, A great book, with lots of old pictures that can be found in and around the Smokies at various stores and also avalible on Amazon is entitled "Whistle Over the Mountains". It has some wonderful pictures of all the old logging camps and settlements, that were in abundance when the Little River Lumber Company and other took claimed to the area. Some of the pictures are quite remarkable.

sammcdonald
05-30-2007, 04:20 PM
also, "Last train to Elkmont"....available at the park stores and online www.nps.gov/grsm and click the link to the park store.
i was in the Spence Cabin with Park archiologist Eric Kreusch on a training day not long ago...it is amazing and has the pation by the river where the "hole" used to be. The cabin (and all the cabins) is not open to the public and entrance is prohibited.

backlash
05-30-2007, 05:06 PM
Thanks for the reply. I'll check on the books. Her family was some of the lucky few who were able to keep their lease untill 1992. Everytime we are in town we go and walk around the area of the cabin and she remembers stories of the weekends they spent there and how it looked then.

Barbara
05-31-2007, 10:41 AM
Sam, where is the Spence cabin?

backlash
05-31-2007, 02:06 PM
I was looking to see if we have those books and found something very interesting. A newspaper article from 1965 that is all about Elkmont and the people who lived there. There are several good stories in it. It includes 7 old pictures including a picture of Col. Townsends cabin which later burned and is no longer there. I would scan & post it but it is alot larger that my scanner. Here is the edition that it came from. I know some newspapers keep old editions on file, someone could look into this if interested. I'm still looking for those books, I'm almost sure we have them somewhere.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel Sunday August 29, 1965 page F3
Written by Willard Yarbrough

russ
05-31-2007, 04:14 PM
There was a severe decline in the number of fish over 18" a few years ago. It occurred around the Spring of 2002. That is the same time that I started fly fishing in the smokies!:biggrin:

Barbara
05-31-2007, 04:16 PM
There was a severe decline in the number of fish over 18" a few years ago. It occurred around the Spring of 2002. That is the same time that I started fly fishing in the smokies!:biggrin:

Wow, you must be quite the trout fisherman :biggrin:

Byron Begley
05-31-2007, 05:30 PM
Backlash,

Fletcher Spence is a friend of mine. I ride my bicycle by his house almost every day. If you come in the shop I'll give you his phone number since you are a relative. He would probably like to talk to you. I would not want to post it on an open forum. I'm sure he has plenty of pictures. He's told me stories about spending time there while he was growing up. He had to leave in 1992.

Byron

russ
06-01-2007, 08:18 AM
Wow, you must be quite the trout fisherman :biggrin:

More than likely I just scared them all away by whipping the water into a froth everytime I try to cast, stomping through the good looking holes, doing my water dance every third step, etc, etc.:rolleyes:

Barbara
06-01-2007, 08:21 AM
Frothy water.....after a missed strike I am always sure I can tempt another strike, so about 5 casts later, there's the frothy water and no more strikes!

Have you noticed that the places you really want to fish have a big, concealed rock to trip you right before you cast so the splash of your foot puts EVERYTHING down for a mile around!

sammcdonald
06-01-2007, 07:59 PM
barb....up little river trail, next to last on the river.....has great patio on the river....several more across the trail on the right. the house next to spence is the one of the old RR commissioner and has had many attempts to save the roof.