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Old 05-23-2008, 08:08 AM
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Redfish62 Redfish62 is offline
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Question High fish populations in the park

Made my weekly fishing excursion to the mountains and had a good evening of fishing.

Originally I had planned on going up the middle prong but I have been wearing out that area lately and after an email conversation with ChemEAngler about the west prong it became my destination.

Started out at the parking lot at bottom of the west prong just a few yards up there is a portion of rail road track laying across the stream. Just above the strip of iron was a nice spot the lean against a tree and drop a Elk hair cadis on the water. And it was promptly devoured by a very large and unexpected rainbow and I was left in a poor potion the deal with it. It passed under the rail and it did not take it long to break the 6x tippet. The rest of the even went well with quite a few small bows.

But that is not the point of this report.

At the end of the day I was greeted by a park law enforcement official, it is always nice to see these guys out doing there job. We had a very interesting conversation concerning the fishing out of Lynn camp prong and fishing in the park. He told me that the biologist or of the opinion that there are to many fish in the streams and it is keeping the size of the fish down and that they recommend that more fish end up on the dinner plate. He suggested that I and others take more fish out. This would increase the size and quality of the fish in the park according to the biologist. This makes since as I have been catching lots and lots of small fish this spring populations are obviously healthy this year.

I am very interested in this and I am going to look into it further and would like to know if any one else has heard this. Any additional info would be appreciated.

And I am going enjoy a few more fish at the dinner table.
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Old 05-23-2008, 08:15 AM
TroutMaster TroutMaster is offline
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The TWRA representative at Troutfest told me the same thing last weekend. He said the drought last year killeld a lot of the bigger fish and there are lots of juvenille fish this year.
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Old 05-23-2008, 09:19 AM
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If they want small juvenile fish taken from the streams, why don't they change the Park regs to state that you can keep 5 trout UNDER 7 inches, and anything larger must be put back. I think more and smaller fish would be kept, and would have the effect that Redfish is talking about.
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Old 05-23-2008, 11:58 AM
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I have been ringing this bell for years....it is the same situation with a farm pond...if you don't harvest some fish what you get are a lot of stunted little fish....one of the standards promoted about the free stone rivers of the park is that they only contain and can sustain a certain amount of food....a pure catch and release attitude that provides for no harvesting results in more fish competing for a limited amount of food....the result is more but smaller fish...the up coming fish out on Tremont for the brook trout program was tried once before....only they did not poison the stream...just tried one summer to fish out the rainbows for a period of time....you left your license at a check point and the results of your day were recorded....you had to keep all rainbows regardless of the size....needless to say the bows were not fished out....but the next summer the fishing up there was so much better...the average size was up to 7-8 inches on average and there was not a drop off in the number of fish taken on a whole....the ranger is right...on a whole we are doing ourselves a huge favor by not harvesting some of these fish for the good of the whole....and the bonus is a treat as well.
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Old 05-23-2008, 02:22 PM
mora521 mora521 is offline
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Rog1,your farm pond analogy hit the mark!Back in the mid seventies when I got my drivers license I scoured Blount county for farm ponds.I got permission to fish a lot of ponds,and almost all the owners asked me to keep the bluegills because of overpopulation and stunted fish.This catch and release thing is great,but some folks have taken it so far that a legal stringer of trout brings dirty looks and snide comments,and people talking about saving "poor rainbows" from being killed by keeping them in a bucket and releasing them below the cascades when the Lynn Camp thing happens.I think Brian G also has a good point about lowering the size limit.One thing that I have seen first hand from folks who say they would never kill a fish as beautiful as a trout,is overfondling and photographs of larger fish.I would love to have a picture of a big brown I caught in a little creek in the Pisgah NF 12 years ago(out of a pool the size of a pickup truck bed)but I never even thought about trying to dig out the camera,I never removed the critter from the water and don't even know how long it was.But I did take a picture of the pool,and fill an airline bottle of Wild Turkey that I drank on the spot with the water from the pool.I also later that evening knocked 3 brook trout on the head and ate them, with no remorse.
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Old 05-23-2008, 04:20 PM
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Mora521...Loved your celebration on catching that big brown.....the truly big trout should be returned to the gene pool....to grow to such size demonstates a trait worth passing on....I have traveled to Tn to visit my relatives every year for 60 and a little more....every summer there would always be several meals of trout brought home by my grandfather and uncle...I have fished the park since I was 13 and have always kept enough fish to eat while there and would probably be divorced if I didn't bring a few home to my bride to cook up for her...I have always had good days and not so good days but there were usually outside influences such as low water, too much water or fishing behind someone else.
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Old 05-23-2008, 08:45 PM
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This is a great topic. I've often thought that it would be good to keep a few to improve the size balance, particularly in the smaller streams I like to fish. Of course, part of the challenge is to get a fish that actually makes it to the minimum length, along with shedding the sense of "guilt" for keeping a fish.

Speaking of the ingrained habit of releasing everything - isn't it funny how it doesn't apply to all species? People often state that trout are too pretty to kill, but the various bream species can be very colorful too - I haven't heard of too many "perch jerkers" having a problem with a fish fry. Down here, we have redfish and speckled trout roaming the inshore salt marshes - here, fish are graded on their plate qualities, and a successful trip is measured in how full the ice chest gets. I think the reluctance to keep trout might be a combination of their aesthetic qualities, combined with the setting in which they are caught - there is the sense of fragile wilderness in a trout stream which one just doesn't get with a farm pond. I have a lot of respect for any fish that is able to carve out a living in such a harsh environment; that is probably why I didn't keep any fish from the park until this past Easter.
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Old 05-24-2008, 09:42 AM
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I believe a lot of the catch-n-release thing is peer pressure. People don't want to get the "dirty looks". On some waters I fish, it's become near religion. I think burning a Bible would receive fewer negative comments than eating a fish.

I release the vast majority of the fish I catch. Not so much because I'm against keeping fish. Bottom-line, I'm very lazy. Most of my fishing is in the evening after work. It's usually 10:00 or later in the evening when I get home. After a 10+ hour day in the office, the last thing I want to do at 10:00pm is filet a stringer of fish.

I have been known to give a few fish to others who are keeping a stringer (especially bluegill on some local lakes).

As long as one is following the laws of the area being fished, I don't see a problem with bringing a few fish home to eat. They are, in fact, quite tasty.

Just my humble opinion
Jeff
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Old 05-26-2008, 12:31 PM
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BlueRaiderFan BlueRaiderFan is offline
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I'm headed to #24 this weekend. I'll make certain to do my share to keep the size up!
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