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Old 01-15-2013, 05:51 PM
HuskerFlyFisher HuskerFlyFisher is offline
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Default Are the fish in the Smokies getting smaller?

Is it just me, or does it seem like all of the fish in the Smokies have been reduced to fingerlings?

I'm not expecting whoppers, but my goodness, most of these things there's about 1 bite of meat on.

I believe I read in Don Kirk's book that the brook trout used to be a lot bigger. If that's so, what made them smaller? Is there not enough food in the Smokies for these "minnows" to eat or what?
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Old 01-15-2013, 06:33 PM
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I noticed several of them being skinnier than usual for their length. That being said, there were some who were still pretty chunky. I imagine come spring, they will be fattening up again. As far as average length, I haven't noticed the average size going down.
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Old 01-15-2013, 06:35 PM
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I'm guessing that you didn't get to fish the park much last season?? If you did, then you may need to possibly re-evaluate your techniques, or just tag along with the right guys to see what some nice fish look like...

If anything, I would say that the size of the fish in the park here lately has been very good. Not only did I land my largest rainbow this past spring but I also had an even larger 14-15" bow break me off and for a wild GSMNP bow, I don't think it gets much better than that...

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Old 01-15-2013, 07:01 PM
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IMO, the fish have actually gotten larger over the past 3 years. I think the drought had quite a bit to do with this. They also used to stock the Park until the early 70's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HuskerFlyFisher View Post
If that's so, what made them smaller?
Catch and release is what keeps them from getting larger. Again, this is just my opinion.
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Old 01-15-2013, 07:27 PM
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My experience has also been that they have gotten smaller but I don't disregard others opinions...maybe it is me.
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:04 AM
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Fish size in the Park is definitely cyclical to some extent but I would say we are still in a big fish cycle. The rainbows were averaging a good size for me as well and there are plenty of big browns. Now, stream to stream the size can vary quite a bit depending on various factors so your mileage may vary..
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Knapp View Post
Fish size in the Park is definitely cyclical to some extent but I would say we are still in a big fish cycle. The rainbows were averaging a good size for me as well and there are plenty of big browns. Now, stream to stream the size can vary quite a bit depending on various factors so your mileage may vary..

Go on...
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:16 AM
HuskerFlyFisher HuskerFlyFisher is offline
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Wow, interesting stuff!

I asked Ian Rutter a similar question years ago, and he said something to the effect that the creel policy - 5 fishes 7" or larger - tends to mean that there are more fingerlings in the stream. Were the policy the opposite - keep up to 7 fish 5 inches or less (I am paraphrasing - Ian feel free to correct me), then there would be more room in the streams for bigger (albeit fewer) fishes.
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:42 AM
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Well guys; Greenbriar is howling high right now, where it flows behind my house (backyard on a very high bank) it is about to jump the bank into a road on the opposite side.... so perhaps there will be NO fish left in the river after this flood.
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Old 01-16-2013, 10:36 AM
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Simple supply side economics...there is a limited supply of food...the more fish there are the tighter the competition becomes and with less food for each fish the growth rate is stunted. I fished the park about four times last year and caught bigger fish than in the last four years...and the reason everyone gives is the drought of three years ago...so you have fewer fish with the same food supply. More food per fish makes for bigger fish..In the past years there were a lot of locals that fished the park for food...never knew of the term catch and release...just by looking at the general fisherman in the park these days you can tell that they are not locals...this fishery will sustain keeping fish to eat and the result will be larger fish...if you don't practice population management then there is no grounds for you to complain about the small size of the fish...
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