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Old 06-01-2010, 10:10 PM
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Default Deep Creek report 5-30-10

I went on a two day backpack trip up Deep Creek to campsite 56 the fishing was amazing. The average size of fish was 6-10" but it was one after another! I probably landed 35 fish and lost or missed as many, the stream flow was perfect enough to wade from campsite 56 all the way to 53 a very peaceful trip with no snakes or bears and the best part, no other fisherman. The water temp was a perfect 58 degrees. I started out using a yellow stimi and a BHPT dropper and wasn't doing to well, I then went to what I call my go to fly a #14 Parachute Adams female and that's when the fun started. I have no clue where all of the rainbows were? I think I caught 4 all day the rest were browns.
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Old 06-02-2010, 08:57 AM
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Very nice fish spotlight!
Can't believe you didn't see any other fisher-peoples, bears, or snakes.
Sounds like the perfect deep creek trip.
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Old 06-02-2010, 09:25 AM
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Awesome report Kevin! I stayed last year at that little spot in the rhodo by the creek at 56 and it was very nice. So were all your catches browns or did you ever get into any rainbows up higher?
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Old 06-02-2010, 12:24 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Spotlight--Sounds like a great trip on my home waters. Thanks for the report. Crockett, there are wild rainbows all the way down to the mouth of the creek (including the two miles of water outside the Park), although with each passing year the browns become more dominant. Still, and I fish Deep Creek at least 15-20 times each year, on most days I catch more 'bows than browns. It is when things are really "on" that brown fishing seems to be particularly good, and that sounds like what this trip produced.
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Old 06-02-2010, 12:46 PM
Crockett Crockett is offline
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Jim I wonder why that is the case for Deep Creek. Aren't the brown's less common and even dissapearing from other park waters and the rainbows more predominant? Since you have fished it for many years when did the browns really take off there?
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Old 06-02-2010, 02:54 PM
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Crockett--I don't know that there's a timeline I can state with any confidence. There have been wild browns in Deep Creek all my life, but they were very scarce in the 1950s and 1960s. By the 1980s however, they had become increasingly common, and by that time I was no longer seeing and occasionally catching the big rainbows (16 inches and up) I once did. The trend has continued right down until today.
I know a lot of folks on this forum think I'm smoking something or else have spent too much time inhaling rarified air up on Charlie's Bunion or Mollie's Butt, but I feel reasonably certain that otters are a significant factor in the decline of browns in some streams. By nature of their preferred habitat browns are easier for otters to catch than rainbows.
However, the Abrams Creek situation being a noteworthy exception, I don't know that it is fair to say brown numbers are delcining in the Park, especially in some streams on the N. C. side. They are the dominant fish in good portions of Big Cataloochee, much more plentiful than was once the case in Hazel, Noland, and Forney Creeks, and there are lots of them in both Luftee and Straight Fork.
I'd love to know what the Park biologists have to say, if anything, on this matter, and I'll try to remember to ask Matt K.
Likewise, my preoccupation with otters notwithstanding (it is difficult not to feel the way I do when I see them 15 or 20 times a year and get many more reports from Bryson City and Robbinsville area old timers about their depredations) I'd love to know what theories others have to offer.
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Old 06-02-2010, 03:44 PM
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Jim,
This is an interesting topic. One thought I have could be habitat change. 70 years ago, much of what is today the park was farmland and clearcut by lumber companies. Over the past 70 or so years, the forest is maturing and more of a canopy is forming over the streams. I wonder if maybe rainbows and brookies are better suited for the type of habitat the current park streams provide and are thus out competing the browns, especially young-of-year type fish?

I've seen several conversations here where brookies are being caught at lower elevations than before. This could be due to restoration efforts, or it may be due to the habitat getting closer to what the brookies find as their native home.

Otters may have something to do with it, and it may just be natural cycles.

In the absence of significant interference from man (i.e. logging, farming, industry, etc.) natural cycles sometimes are measured in centuries not the span of the few years we live on this Earth.

If I were forced to make an un-educated guess, I'd say it's probably a combination of factors and not one single thing.

I do know after the drought cycle a couple years back, the fish I've caught this year have been larger and fatter than before. Probably due to reduced competition for the available food. That will probably last for a few more years of normal rainfall and temps until the streams stabilize at their carrying capacity and the cycle will start all over again (floods during spawning time, drought, etc.).

Jeff
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Old 06-02-2010, 04:17 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Jeff--I basically concur with everything you say. I'm one of those who has mentioned expanded speckled trout range, and it's a plain fact. Similarly, there's no question that there's more cover and less siltation in Park streams than in yesteryear. To take Deep Creek as an example, the Jenkins Fields, obviously former farmland when I was a boy, are now mature forest. Smallmouth bass are not nearly as widespread in the Park as they once were.
On the flip side of this, if one belives Al Gore and his acolytes (I personally think he's a bloated buffoon and would point out that a slight rearrangement of letters in his last name produces Ogre), global warming should mean warmer waters in Park streams.
It's complex, and one other factor I'd introduce in the rainbows vs. browns equation is that the latter are more energy-efficient and harder to catch, and that could translate to more of them in terms of both survival and fewer ending up in frying pans.
One other thought--I've fished Park waters long enough to have some perspective, and other than more anglers, I don't see much if any decline in the quality of the fishery. I've no doubt improved over time, but I haven't had many days in the last decade like ones I regularly experienced above the Baumgardner Bend in the 1950s and 1960s (50 to 75 fish in a day, most of them running 9-11 inches). On the other hand, I don't walk to and from such remote places in a day the way I once did, and there are still those days, such as one on the state part of Deep Creek two years ago, when virtually every little pocket or pool produces a fish.
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Old 06-02-2010, 05:29 PM
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Drought killed a lot more 'bows than browns so people are tending to catch more browns right now. Also, we had some high water events around the time of the rainbow spawn the last 2-3 years but mostly good spawning conditions for the browns (except for last fall). Thus it would be logical that the browns might be doing a bit better right now...as others have said, all part of the natural cycle. Abrams is another story but there's good reasons for that as well I believe...
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Old 06-02-2010, 06:05 PM
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Plateau Angler--I fully accept your thoughts on the timing correlation between spawning rainbows and bad natural conditions, and it certainly makes sense that drought (and higher water temperatures) would impact rainbows more than browns. However, the number of small 'bows (4-7 inches) I caught on some trips last summer was nothing short of remarkable. I remember one day on Little Snowbird, in particular, where I caught one small wild 'bow after another, even getting a double header on the dry fly and dropper not once but twice.
The flat-out truth of matters is that nature is so complex, and our understanding of it so minimal, that we never approach anything like a full understanding of things like this. It sure is fun to speculate though, and as Horace Kephart said, in my favorite quotation from him: "In the school of the outdoors there is no graduation day."
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