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yellowsulphur29 04-13-2006 12:03 AM

Illegal fishing in park
Hey all, I hope I don't start a war here or bring any animosity towards me, but I was just wondering how you all would resolve someone you see fishing illegally in the park. I fly fish and have fished the park for more than 5 years now, and I repepeatedly see spin fisherman using corn, worms, and often times spoons with treble hooks. In the five years I have fished, I have never once been checked by Park Rangers, nor have I seen any of them stop these "tourons" as a fellow LRO member stated. I am not one to start an argument with anyone over issues such as this, but I used to work for TWRA on Fort Loudon and had to deal with a lot of problems with fisherman without licenses or illegal sizes and creels. Since I got out of that line of work I don't feel I really have any jursidiction or any ability to request another fisherman cease their actions. Just wondering how the rest of you feel on this subject. I know that this weekend will bring the redneck corn chuckers out of hiding for the brookies and I hate to see this go on unchecked or unannounced. I don't mind paying the prices for fishing licenses, trout stamps, donations to TU and the like, but to see some tourist or worse a native fisherman violate the rules just burns me up. Just so you know, what turned over my soap box, I found a treble hooked spoon hanging from a tree in Metcalfe bottoms over the weekend, and the hooks did not show even the slightest sign of rust. I know that as the summer approaches this sort of thing will only get worse. Tell me if I am wrong for saying anything or if I should just keep my mouth shut on the streams. Thanks again guys, and good luck this weekend. Gas prices may have me stuck at home so catch one for me.

pmike 04-13-2006 12:29 AM

Re: Illegal fishing in park
Interesting post! I came up to the park from NE Florida and fished the park a year ago last March. On that trip I was fishing along Treemont and over in Elkmont. In both places the fish had never been more scarase. I stopped at the "Crusher Pool" in Elkmont and usually there are numerous trout along that wall, but I only saw one or two. I noticed as I drove up that a couple was already fishing the pool with spinning tackle and as I was watching the man was throwing a nice 18 or so inch bow back in. I commented on what a nice fish it was and he said, "We kept the big one!". He walked over and picked up a creel that he opened to show me a 20 plus inch Brown.

I want back to my car to gear up and as I was putting my rod together I noticed the man pull out a container of night crawlers to bait his rig. I then walked back over and explained that I hated to "rain on their parade" but wondered if they understood what they were doing is/was illegal? The man looked at me in disbelief and said they had no idea, he explained that when they bought their license, they also bought baith and asked about fishing in the park. They said no one ever indicated that bait fishing was not legal. I told him it was and that if they were caught the fines were quite large along with possible confiscation of their gear. I walked of and a few minutes later his wife walked over to their SUV which was parked 50 or 60 yards away. She drove it back over to where he was and exited while holding a fishing regulation brocure. I could hear her tell him, "He's right, it says in here that no live bait may be used in the park!" A few seconds later they drove off.

The fishing on that trip sucked for me and I started noticing corn cans, worm tubs, and even a found a plasrtic work with a treble in it caught in some brush. I saw this debree along Treemont as well as in Elkmont and it disgusted me.

I also noticed and recalled that not once have I ever been checked out by any park personel while fishing the park waters. I'd love to have them ask for my license and check my box to make sure I am legal...cause that might mean they were checing on some of these other folks who aren't.

You know what, the truth be told I don't want folks to suffer great penalties for ignorance but would like for some educational type of enforcement. Maybe they could assign them a couple of days of public service like picking up their empty beer and worm cans out of the streams or off the trails. Then if they are caught repeatedly offending or breaking the laws, sock it to them.


moflyer3 04-13-2006 09:11 AM

Re: Illegal fishing in park
Had a similar incident in southern missouri two or three years ago where people were hauling out undersized and illegally caught trout from trophy trout water. To make matters worse, one person was running his pickup through a feeder spring. Several of us in different groups were frustrated and noone had cell phone service to call a park ranger (national park) at the time. After returning home, called the NPS and let them know what we witnessed. Said that they were severely understaffed and that stretch of the river was not regularly controlled anymore due to budget cuts. Ouch!

On a brighter side though, I have been watched on that particular stretch of river many times in the past, and have had my license checked by a ranger. Said they do "stealth" checking regularly (of course, that was 6 plus years ago) on everyone. We had complained at the time that we were seeing the occasional empty jar of trout bait, etc. as we were fishing. The ranger indicated that they do there best to clamp down on illegal use but they also had a tendency to be lenient on the locals that had always fished the stream, prior to it becoming fly only. To some extent, at least on THAT day, I was ok with that.

He did caution against being confrontational when we witness something like that happening, for obvious reasons. The best advice is to certainly let the park rangers know, and leave it to them to do their job. I doubt they have a similar issue in GSMNP, but I think its good safety advice for all of us.

geerona 04-13-2006 12:34 PM

Re: Illegal fishing in park
These post remind me of an incident I had in Michigan a few ago. I had just landed and released a Steelhead on the St. Joseph river. When I stood up and turned around a Michigan CO was watching the whole thing from just a few feet away. I said to him that I supposed he would like to see my license. He said "no" and I suppose some unknown inner part of me needed to prove I was legal. I asked him if the fact I was a non-resident would warrant him seeing the license. His next words may not be exact but they are darn close, "it's not you guys with the expensive rods and in the waders I am watching, it's the guys in sneakers and jeans running up and down the bank I look for". Not to imply that everyone in jeans and sneakers is a law breaker but my guess is he has learned from experience who to keep an eye on.

I have never been checked in the park either and I guess that same inner part of me would like to be just to prove I am legal. A couple weeks ago we saw 2 rangers driving as we walked along the rod and neither bothered to stop. They probably know the same thing the guy in Michigan knows.

If I saw someone breaking the law I might casually let them know. I suppose it might depend on the circumstances. Maybe the phone call is the best solution. I'm sure funding for law enforcement is a problem everywhere.

gary <*))))><

kytroutman 04-13-2006 02:10 PM

Re: Illegal fishing in park
It's even harder to explain these occurrences to your children. I took my son who recently picked up flyfishing to Tremont two weekends ago. Needless to say, we encountered numerous "fishermen" only a handful that were actually flyfishing or even using artificial bait. It is unfortunate that this is not limited to the Smokies as I come across it in the streams of SE Kentucky at Bark Camp and Rock Creek repeatedly where these same quality of sportsman are using live bait and not practicing catch-and-release as required by law.

We can only try to make a difference since it is impossible to change these type of people and the park personnel are already overwhelmed.

David Knapp 04-13-2006 02:19 PM

Re: Illegal fishing in park
I fish a lot in the park and I've been checked probably 4 or 5 times out of maybe 75-100 days over the last 2-3 years. Not a particularly great percentage but the park rangers have a lot to do other than checking licenses. Whenever I do get checked, I make it a point to let them know how much I appreciate them being out there enforcing the regulations.

It really is sad how much illegal fishing goes on. I wish that handing out regulations would be a good solution, but in reality the people that are doing this mostly wouldn't even bother reading them in the first place. I don't think it really crosses their minds or else they are of the "I should be able to catch them however I want" mentality. >:(

David Knapp

yellowsulphur29 04-13-2006 06:28 PM

Re: Illegal fishing in park
I appreciate your suggestions, and I suppose if I see this becoming a problem this summer I may just keep my cell phone handy with the local NPS office. I am not out looking to get anyone in trouble, but if I start to see creels full of fish from live bait fishing, I will probably not hold back. I want to have fun and fist fights or scuffles over confrontations are not my idea of an enjoyable outing on the river. I am not a member of the LR chapter of TU, but I wonder what their feelings are on this and if maybe if they could sponsor a training session possibly during trout fest to inform tourists and locals. I would even be willing to assist them in any training or dispersal of brochures at local campgrounds. I know it will not stop everyone, but maybe we can slow it down.

NshTrtBm 04-13-2006 08:53 PM

Re: Illegal fishing in park
I figure that this is the best place to ask this question - so my son turns 14 this year does he need a trout stamp in TN?

I couldn't get the salesperson to sell us one for him when we bought his license this spring.


Kytroutbum 04-14-2006 07:49 AM

Re: Illegal fishing in park
I very honestly think many people who are fishing DON'T KNOW the PARK RULES ARE DIFFERENT than Tennessee. I've been stopped and had people asking me questions about fishing while walking in or out. I always make it a point to mention License, artifical and single hook, wild Trout, Catch and Release. The park service needs more LARGER SIGNS along the road and at trailheads. When I mentioned to folks walking dogs, riding bikes, etc that their activity could result in fines, they say they were not aware it was. Having taught schools for 33 years, I can read people fairly well and believe most infractions are not deliberate. The small signs are easy to miss and should be more prominent.


Kytroutbum 04-14-2006 07:54 AM

Re: Illegal fishing in park
A SUGGESTION-- Would a TU chapter, or similar group contact the Park Service and volunteer to post more EASILY VISIBLE SIGNS??? The local chapters have a rapport with the NPS.

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