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Thread: Are the fish in the Smokies getting smaller?

  1. #31
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    Ditto to that except I found the salamander in the stomach of a Brookie. And one that about 7.25" at that. So they will go after big bites at a young age.

  2. #32
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    Something I always wondered about when I see photos of brookies caught in the park at this time of year with big heads and skinny bodies is, are these a result of being post spawn fish who are in process of rebuilding body mass with a limited food supply in the winter?

  3. #33
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    Personally, I think the acid rain has had an negative effect on fertility of the Smokies streams and therefore the size of the trout. Warmer stream temperatures has also had a negative effect in my opinion.

    Last year I read a report of the Kg/Ha per certain Park streams and was a bit surprised at the numbers. I believe Deep Creek only averaged 25 or so and that is very ordinary and average in the Southeast. It is nothing like the "gem" status it used to acclaim in the 1980s and prior.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by MBB View Post
    Personally, I think the acid rain has had an negative effect on fertility of the Smokies streams and therefore the size of the trout. Warmer stream temperatures has also had a negative effect in my opinion.

    Last year I read a report of the Kg/Ha per certain Park streams and was a bit surprised at the numbers. I believe Deep Creek only averaged 25 or so and that is very ordinary and average in the Southeast. It is nothing like the "gem" status it used to acclaim in the 1980s and prior.

    I would be really interested in this report. As chemistry professor, I am trying to get some things lined up to do some extensive water quality research on the streams in the park and so I am still gathering info about what has already been done. Any resources that anyone already has would be a huge help in getting this started.

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by MBB View Post
    Personally, I think the acid rain has had an negative effect on fertility of the Smokies streams and therefore the size of the trout. Warmer stream temperatures has also had a negative effect in my opinion.

    Last year I read a report of the Kg/Ha per certain Park streams and was a bit surprised at the numbers. I believe Deep Creek only averaged 25 or so and that is very ordinary and average in the Southeast. It is nothing like the "gem" status it used to acclaim in the 1980s and prior.
    I would think that is true based on data I've seen on the GSMNP website concerning the freestone streams but I'm only a layman on the subject. More acid, less bugs, smaller fish or at least more smaller fish vs fewer larger fish.

    Anywho, is there any way this acid rain influence can be balanced out and perhaps even made to swing a little the other way, like a limestone stream? Probably a dumb question but I was just wondering. I know every time "man" tries to overcome something in nature, he usually misjudges and nature usually suffers something else, but ...just asking.
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  6. #36
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    The streams of the Smokies are naturally more acidic than most Western, Northeastern and Upper Midwestern streams. This does not have as much to do with acid rain as does the parent rock formations the streams flow over. This really becomes evident when a road cut is made through an acid bearing shale formation like the one at Newfound Gap and the Cherohala Skyway. Water trickling over these fresh road cuts significantly drops the pH of nearby streams for years. This is evident in upper Walker Camp prong and McNabb and Hemlock Branches in the CNF. The one outlier stream in the Smokies is Abrams and it flows over and through more of a limestone base.

    It is a combination of low pH, low mineral content and low buffering capacity that keep the streams of the Smokies relatively infertile. They are aesthetically pleasing and do hold some gorgeous wild fish, but will never be in the same league as the famous Western and Northern streams unless the fish receive supplemental feedings. There will always be a relatively few really large brown trout in just about any water they inhabit, but they are the exception.

  7. #37
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    It's amazing that the nutrient content is considered low, given the variety and number of hatches I see in the warmer months.

  8. #38
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    when I first started fishing the park not too long ago, say 8 years, I was happy to catch a keeper. Now I expect to catch a keeper everytime. I have gotten more experience therefore better, but I do think the fish have gotten bigger (maybe just in certain places I fish). Not scientific mind you, just from observation. I remember reading books that would say any rainbow over 8" is a good one. I've seen a few pushing 10" or so.

    on a seperate note concerning acidic waters.

    Pike County IN has been a mining region for years. A small river was dead for 70/80 years from acid mine drainage. It flowed orange. In the 90's serious reclamation was undertaken and river is coming back to life; plant life, dragonflies, spotted bass. However it is still pretty invertabrate deficient compared to other local waters. Big fish (piscovores) come in and hang out but the base invertabrates are harder to establish therefore the small sunfish aren't too prevelant. Sounds like the smokies just with warmwater.

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueRaiderFan View Post
    It's amazing that the nutrient content is considered low, given the variety and number of hatches I see in the warmer months.
    Good variety but you need to come out west and experience a blizzard hatch. Or try the SoHo during sulphur times... The Smokies have very few hatches that get the fish going like a big hatch can, but the ones that do happen are definitely something to experience!!!
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  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by NDuncan View Post
    I would be really interested in this report. As chemistry professor, I am trying to get some things lined up to do some extensive water quality research on the streams in the park and so I am still gathering info about what has already been done. Any resources that anyone already has would be a huge help in getting this started.
    Take a look at the Fish and Biology forum under this site. There is a topic dated on or about 11/4/2011 titled Deep Creek Survey or Commuinity and there is a link to the survey done by Steve Moore and Matt Kulp. Hope that helps.

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