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Old 06-08-2009, 09:40 PM
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Default Brook Trout Restoration

When Pete and I ended up by coincidence on LR late Saturday night, we got to talking about the brook trout restoration project. The puzzle we discussed is why Lynn Camp will not be stocked with brookies until the rainbows are "guaranteed" gone when brookes and rainbows co-exist in WPLP and Deep Creek rather nicely. Any opinions on this?
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Old 06-08-2009, 10:13 PM
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Charlie,
This is, after all, the government we're discussing.

Jeff
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Old 06-09-2009, 06:06 AM
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I would say the reason is to ensure that there is no chance the rainbows will start taking back over and diminish the brook trout population. While i would agree that a few rainbows probably wouldn't stand a chance of hurting anything, it is probably the "better safe than sorry" ideology. I'm sure a lot of money was spent eradicating the rainbows and they wouldn't want to jeopardize the success of the project by leaving a few rainbows in when they can just take a little extra time to get the remaining few out.

This is just my opinion, however.
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Old 06-09-2009, 07:05 AM
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I agree with Craig. Since in most streams the bows seem to out compete the brookies, they want to ensure that they give give them the best fighting chance by starting at ground zero. They probably figure that eventually some rainbows will work their way back into a restored stream, but if the brookies have taken hold, they will be able to sustain a viable population. It would be much easier to remove any rainbows now, once they stock the brookies their options would be limited.

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Old 06-09-2009, 08:46 AM
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The "out compete" part of the equation is really the part that I'm most interested in. I agree that if they are going to do it, they need to do it all the way (eradicate all the rainbows). But my real question is, what basis do we have to say that rainbows out-compete brookies for food, and isn't it just the Southern Strain Brook Trout that have competition problems with the Rainbows.

Isn't it really siltation brought on by logging and acid rain that have diminished the range of our brookies, more than anything else? I'm not a fisheries biologist, but in most areas of the country, Brook Trout are "trash fish" because they out-compete Rainbows and Cutthroat. In fact, in many fisheries you are asked to kill any Brook Trout you catch. Is it just the southern strain that has competition problems? And what about Deep Creek and WPLP. The brookies seem to be holding their own, quite well without any natural barriers.

Just wondering....
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Old 06-09-2009, 09:28 AM
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About the "out compete" part, i have heard from several biologists that rainbows and browns will eat into brook trout territory because they are more aggressive with eating. Don't know if this is confined to the southern appalachian brook trout or all brook trout species. I do know of several streams in Tennessee that ask you to throw rainbows out if you catch them as it is predominantly brook trout.
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Old 06-09-2009, 10:29 AM
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At one point in time there used to be a Genesis theory that the park operated under..."In the beginning"...used this to stop stocking programs within the park and trying to eradicate the pigs....guess in the beginning there were only brook trout in the park....it was the logging that spoiled a lot of trout water for the brookies and led to the active stocking of the rainbows...park used to have a hachery at the picnic area of the chimneys back when it was actually a campground.....a lot of things change...WPLP used to be a sportsman's stream where you could only keep a fish over 16"....back then a 50 fish day was the norm.....it was amazing.
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Old 06-09-2009, 11:40 AM
ZachMatthews ZachMatthews is offline
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Hey guys -

I've been studying this issue for a couple magazines and have talked to Steve Moore about it. I may be wrong, but I think I understand why the NPS is doing what they're doing and I also think it's a very good idea.

Starting way back in the 1970s, the NPS has been shocking various streams clean of invasives, which includes not just rainbows and browns but also northern-strain brook trout. The brookies are losing habitat up high due to acidification (from the coal plants and cars, mostly). Thus, the NPS has been trying to get them back space down lower on the slopes.

Keep in mind that at one point the whole swathe of the Smokies was extensively logged. Sedimentation, siltation, and sunlight penetration warmed the lower streams and killed the brookies out, forcing them higher and colder. Rainbows and browns are way more tolerant of sedimentation and thus they extended their range upwards.

Here's the immediate problem: over the long run, rainbows and browns outcompete brookies by eating their fry, pushing them out of choice holding lies, and consuming resources the already-stressed brookies need to survive. It's a *long run* thing. In the short run, yes, they can co-exist. But, over time, the rainbows will win out.

Thus, when the NPS goes to clear a stream, they *need to get all the rainbows,* or they'll be back doing it again in 20-30 years. That's what happened on the other streams where they had incomplete removal via shocking packs. Use of antimycin (while totally harmless) is still controversial. The NPS is very wise in my opinion to limit the use of piscicides to one time per watershed if at all possible. If they knock all the rainbows out and they're certain of that before they restock with brookies, then they can safely move on to the next watershed. The only way the rainbows or browns would come back, based on where they're selecting for rehabilitation, is if some complete freaking idiot with a bucket decided to restock them himself.

So far the NPS has reclaimed 17.2 miles of brookie water. Lynn Camp Prong will add another chunk to that. Keep this in mind, too: the brookies used to get a lot bigger than they do now. I've seen old stringer pics from the 1920s and before of large brookies taken from the Smokies (over twelve inches) prior to logging. With the forest now substantially regrown, if the NPS keeps working to take back lower, more environmentally robust rivers from the invasives, we stand a good chance of seeing overall size of the fish go up.

Zach
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Old 06-09-2009, 01:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteCz View Post
The "out compete" part of the equation is really the part that I'm most interested in. I agree that if they are going to do it, they need to do it all the way (eradicate all the rainbows). But my real question is, what basis do we have to say that rainbows out-compete brookies for food, and isn't it just the Southern Strain Brook Trout that have competition problems with the Rainbows.

Isn't it really siltation brought on by logging and acid rain that have diminished the range of our brookies, more than anything else? I'm not a fisheries biologist, but in most areas of the country, Brook Trout are "trash fish" because they out-compete Rainbows and Cutthroat. In fact, in many fisheries you are asked to kill any Brook Trout you catch. Is it just the southern strain that has competition problems? And what about Deep Creek and WPLP. The brookies seem to be holding their own, quite well without any natural barriers.

Just wondering....
I can't buy the logging argument Pete. Maybe 70 yrs. ago, but the forests have all regrown and there hasn't been logging since it became a Park. The biggest factor after logging was the heavy stocking of rainbows. I may be wrong, but I would be willing to bet that there would be more brookies in the Park today if the rainbows hadn't been stocked and the brookies would have a chance to repopulate the streams after they had recovered from logging. As far as acid rain, I don't know enough to comment on that issue. Blaming logging for the brookies current state just doesn't hold any quarter for me IMHO. I am not trying to start an argument, just stating a opinion.

Have fun!

Neal
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Old 06-09-2009, 03:43 PM
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I was able to help out with this project last year on Mark's Creek.

I hate to hear that there was a set back. The amount of work and planning that goes into a project like this is truley amazing.

I think that Pineman summed up the whole purpose for the project: "they want to ensure that they give give them the best fighting chance by starting at ground zero."

Well said.
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