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Thread: Trout Mortality

  1. #71
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Covington, Louisiana/Cosby, TN


    Very well is, after all, a sport - this isn't the 19th century, and we don't need the fish to put food on the table. If one could guarantee that every fish hooked was of legal size, it would be one thing - you could at least keep them and bring them home for dinner. However, look at all the 5-6 inch fish that are out there. So, even though our fishing efforts have little to no effect on the population, if we know that, in a given stream situation, that our hooking and playing a fish will probably kill it, it's hard to justify fishing that stream at that point.

    I'll be driving up tomorrow night - I'm looking at some property Saturday morning. Afterwards, I'll drive around to some of my favorite streams and take a look. If they're fishable (good temps AND flowing water), I'll fish. If not, I won't - simple as that. Some watersheds seem to have better aquifers than others, and some have lucked out with a little more rain this summer than others. Little River is a prime example; I've watched the radar almost every day this summer, and it is uncanny how often the rain has just missed falling in that watershed - it's either on the other side of the mountains in North Carolina, or it's further to the east, etc. As a result, it's been low pretty much all summer. I fished Tremont briefly one evening back in June on one of our trips, and even then the water was on the warm side - I haven't been back there since, except to just look. My daughter and I fished Road Prong three weeks ago, and while the water was on the low side, it was still flowing nicely and had a good temperature...but that was at the end of that little rainy spell the mountains had. If I get a chance, I'll take a look, but I'll bet it's marginal right now.

    Sooner or later, the pattern will the meantime, it is hard to watch and wait.

  2. #72
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    irvine ky

    Default gerry romer

    have always been told SMNP's climate is rain forest like--which means lots of rain---were you serious about Oct being the dry-est month of the year if,if so,moderate rain forest rainfall would be heavy rainfall elsewhere,we are not getting either----2013?? that's kind of depressing...had no idea it takes that long for mama nature to rebound.....

  3. #73
    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Default Trout Mortality

    I sense two different views being expressed on this thread. The views reflect a deeper split of a value system to the environment. This rift is symbolized by the differences here.

    The first is a view attempting to rationalize reasons to fish this time of the year, despite the current water conditions. Some with this view looks at research, but seems to primarily look for the tidbits of research to support their view. Ironically, that has led to statements of research that fishing pressure even in these water conditions do not significantly effect fish populations. Although this is likely true, to adopt this as a rationalization to fish in these current conditions conveys an attitude that it is ok to kill fish, maybe numerous fish, for the sake of your desire to fish. If you hook into 25 fish, and eventally contribute to the death of 1/2 due to the extra stress of their fighting, and lactic acid build up, in already precarious conditions that have significantly weakened the fish, is that acceptable? Maybe that will not significanly effect trout populations, if one looks at a statistical model of trout populations in all of the Smoky Nat PK. However, if you seen a poacher carrying out 12 brook trout on a chain, is that acceptable? Is there really, at the bottom line, a difference? Maybe the poacher is even more ethical, as he might enjoy them for dinner.

    The second view is people who also likely have a strong desire to fish, but do not attempt to rationalize it in this current environment, but rather "take it safe." Some of them are also responding to research, and probably have more research to support their position. This position, in my opinion, views the risk of fishing in these current conditions, as probably eventually killing more trout than they feel is ok. The protection of the resource, even a small part, such as not killing 12 fish, is stronger than the desire to fish. This view does not seek the rationalizations to fish, but rather to protect the fish.

    Thus I would not be suprised if the sides of this thread also reflect a deeper division in value systems to the environment, (such as global warming), and how important a natural resource is, even a miniscule 12 wild trout in a stream with thousands.
    ďThe wild fish were as the wild air, no mans possession but the free gift of God." ---Arthur Ransome

  4. #74
    Join Date
    May 2007


    I'm not trying to justify fishing in the park now, I just wanted to know the real truth about the conditions and the effects of fishing. That is the purpose of the thread. Of course some will choose to still fish the park, but what isn't debatable is the lousy fishing. I'm sticking to the tailwaters for now anyway.

  5. #75
    Join Date
    Jul 2006


    Quote Originally Posted by lauxier View Post
    have always been told SMNP's climate is rain forest like--which means lots of rain---were you serious about Oct being the dry-est month of the year if,if so,moderate rain forest rainfall would be heavy rainfall elsewhere,we are not getting either----2013?? that's kind of depressing...had no idea it takes that long for mama nature to rebound.....

    lauxier --

    Here's a link to the October statistic.

    It's just a quick, down and dirty summary and may not be all that comprehensive but it shows the three driest months for Townsend, TN being: August 3.7" avg., September 2.7" avg., and October 2.6" avg. The comment about 2013 was a bit of a joke. Ha, ha... If you recall, we actually had a blizzard in '93 that would have broken the back of that '88 drought!!

    As I was having breakfast early this am, I was watching a report on CNN about the Midwest flooding. They put up a map of the US showing all of the flash flood areas. The highlighted area started in Missouri, went up through Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia. It was like this gigantic red donut surrounding poor little Tennesse... The rain really is all around us. A client asked me why it is that the rain states are getting all the media coverage when the drought states are having a really hard time. I told her the simple answer; Brown doesn't photograph well for TV.


  6. #76
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    irvine ky

    Default trout mortality

    customer,female,this morning...."I didnot know there were trout in the Smokey's,and I have been going down there for 40 years,of course I have'nt got around to going into the park yet.I have never heard of "stressed trout",I've been under a lot of stress myself,my husband is a jerk......

    she is a good customer,nice lady,good mother,but is no threat to Einstein...I think she relates stress and Park trout with collection agencies and bad husbands

  7. #77
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Middle Tennessee

    Question Rift in the Camp

    Well thought out post. Think you hit the nail square on the head.
    Wonder if any minds have been changed by this thread?
    Great discussions but doubt minds have been changed.

    Be glad when the temp goes down and the water goes up.

  8. #78
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Maryville, TN

    Default The thread that keeps going...and going...

    Quote Originally Posted by brookiefly View Post
    Thus I would not be suprised if the sides of this thread also reflect a deeper division in value systems to the environment, (such as global warming), and how important a natural resource is, even a miniscule 12 wild trout in a stream with thousands.
    I was going to stay out of this, after stating my opinions earlier, but we seem to have headed down the ethical side of the stream and I feel compelled to jump back in.

    As a few folks have mentioned, you can support either side of this argument with statistics. Its amazing that the studies that Brookiefly, SnailDarter and others have posted, have enough holes in them to support either claim which roughly look like: 1) Donít fish when the conditions are marginal Ė thereís no sense to stressing already stressed fish, or 2) Fishing has such a insignificant impact on trout Ė it doesnít matter what conditions are, fishing is OK.

    There are some folks very emotional about both sides of this argument and are willing to toss around global warming, acid rain, natural selection, tubers and a whole bunch of other issues in, to support their claim or refute the claims of others. We even have some folks bashing scientists/biologists because they donít support their position.

    We must realize that there is NO clear cut answer to this dilemma. Lets look at both arguments and why neither of them is 100% supportable.

    Position 1) ďDonít additionally stress fish that are under stressĒ

    If it's true that there are 2000-4000 trout per mile of stream and we look at a water flow reduction of 75% or more, there is no doubt that many/most of the trout would be under stress. If that's the case, I think you could rationally say that we should be trying to reduce the number of trout in the streams, for the greater good of the ones that would remain (limited food source, cover, etc). Really, isnít that some of the rationale behind hunting for deer and other animals. That if there wasnít some thinning of populations through hunting, the entire population would be less healthy. The same could be said of the conditions we were in right now with our fish. If some reduction is done in the numbers of fish, the overall population remaining would be better off.

    Position 2) ďIt doesnít matter what conditions are, fishing is OKĒ
    If you look purely at the data and the scientists opinions you could support this claim. However, if you look at the effect you have of stepping into the middle of a pool and watching fish scatter and hunker down, you realize that even during the best of conditions our actions will stress fish into hiding positions. Given that the water is very low and warm, any time our fish are spending hiding, they are usually away from the best available DO water and also are not able to feed, which in turn impacts their health, which then adds more stress. Really the fishing part is probably not the most stressful act; its walking near/in the streams and spooking fish. Its possible that if we stay away from the streams the fish would be better off.

    Neither position is 100% defensible. So whatís the answer?

    I donít believe there is one. We can all form our own opinions and then live by what we believe in. There doesnít seem to be any clear cut answer to the dilemma. Ethical behavior is doing what you believe is the right thing. As long as we all listen to our conscience we are acting ethically. Letís not bash each other over our differing opinions.

    Iím not fishing because it doesnít feel right. I donít have any better explanation than that. But I am certainly not going to get up on a soapbox and tell others what to do, or not do. No one has the true, clearly defined information to support either side of this argument. If you want to state your opinion - fine, just don't cram your opinions down other peoples throats. And let's not start talking about Global Warming...

  9. #79
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Knoxville, TN


    petecz...very well stated. also, I'll second no global warming talk.

    this whole discussion is based on the idea that if one DID go fishing, one would catch fish. I haven't fished the park in all this mess, but personally, I don't think you would catch many, if any fish anyway, if you did. that's the first reason I stopped fishing there, and since, haven't had to worry too much about the other reasons because I'm not fishing there anyway. I certainly don't want to tell the next guy he shouldn't go fish there. If he wants to go cast his fly over dry rocks into shallow puddles, good luck to him.

    brookiefly, I think you are right about there being a rift. the rift is 2 different angles which are: the fishery as a whole, and the trout as an individual.

    when looking at the fishery as a whole, it seems that a "thinning of the herd" may actually be a good thing, both for the trout, as well as you and I. information so far seems to suggest that fishing in these conditions will have no negative impact on the fishery.

    If we look at the trout as an individual, information suggests that fishing WILL have an impact on that trout that you catch or maybe just spook.

    some people look at one angle of this, but I think most probably have a mixture of both of the above two views, which is what makes this so difficult. reasons to fish, or not, can be broken down this way:

    1. If I fish, I will hurt the trout I catch and he may possibly die.
    2. If I fish, the impact on the fishery will not be negative, possibly positive.
    3. If I fish, it'll probably be lousy anyway, so what's the point?

    there really is no right or wrong in this situation. I'm not fishing now because of number 3 on the above list. if I thought I could go up there and wear 'em out right now, I don't know if I would do it or not. probably not. If I were to fish, I would probably at least eat the ones of legal size.

  10. #80
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Coastal Norf Cack-a-lacky


    Great points. I have been thinking exactly what you wrote about seeing trout as a collective or as an individual. And I was right there with you until reason #3 for not fishing. If you're not fishing b/c the fishing is lousy, why do you ever go? If your goal is only to bring fish to hand, don't chase trout, chase bluegill. I doubt there are many people in this forum that go "catching". We go fishing. The fishing can be great, even if the catching is lousy.
    Life is hard. But it's a lot harder if you're stupid.

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