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  #11  
Old 01-09-2011, 11:50 AM
DavidR DavidR is offline
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32" and 16 pounds would be about right.

A friend just sent me a picture of a recently caught 16+ pound Brown from the White in Arkansas - it measured 32 1/2" with a 19" girth.
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  #12  
Old 01-09-2011, 01:04 PM
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whitefeather whitefeather is offline
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Jim

I think you're right about the browns coming up into the park from state waters. The brookies are apparently doing that also. The park records and information that I have seen on line with regards to fish are woefully out of date with reality.

I believe that all the information the fish needs is that which is in their DNA when they are hatched, regardless of their "birthing process". Many people say hatchery fish are not true trout, but I believe that after a period of time in the wild they defer to the "memory banks" in their DNA and learn from there, as do all other wild fish. They are certainly all on their own after they hatch, regardless. Hatchery fish will learn that they have to hunt for their food after they are released into the wild or die. Nothing stronger than the survival instinct. I also believe they will swim upstream for many miles if necessary to satisfy their instinct to reproduce, even if their olefactory senses can't pin point their exact hatching spot because they were hatched in a tank. I also believe that there has probably been a lot of stocking going on that the fish and wildlife folks don't know about. And I think there is much to the equation that we still have to learn from our finned friends.

I'm sure you already knew all of this but just wanted to reiterate it as I have seen some really big browns and brook trout in park waters where they supposedly weren't supposed to be. Last October a fellow camper took a 9+ pound Brown from a hole in the Bradley Fork a ways upstream. He wouldn't say exactly where he caught it, but I saw the fish, maybe twenty five inches, maybe longer. He hadn't measured it but had weighed it with pocket scales. I believe it swam upstream from the Raven Fork confluence of the Luftee or from enterprise waters and decided that the Bradley was its spawning grounds. But who knows for sure!


I also saw a huge brown in the Little River back a few years ago when it was so low that old fish wiers built over a hundred years were visible. It was down stream from Elkmont past the big bend in the river before the turn off on Little River road. Some hikers pointed it out to me from a high bank along the road. I was in the river in shallow water at the time and couldn't see it till I climbed the bank. It was huge, but I couldn't really gage the length of it, I guess maybe 30 inches. The water was so clear I could readily see it was a brown. The time was also in the fall, it was headed upstream toward Elkmont, maybe preparing to spawn.

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  #13  
Old 01-09-2011, 01:16 PM
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Hugh Hartsell Hugh Hartsell is offline
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Good morning Jim,
I wish that I could give you a definitive answer to your question about how a Park record was determined, but all I can give is my best guess at this time. I am going to try to see the gentleman that caught the fish and ask him. My best guess would be that he may have shown some of the Park Rangers the mounted fish and asked them about how it ranked with any others they had a record of?? I would also surmize that they told him from any knowledge they had at the time they they had not heard of or seen any fish that were any larger than his. This is just speculation on my part and I'll try to find out more if I can run into him again. I did a Google search on "the largest fish ever caught in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park" and I came up with a good link. Try this and scroll all the way to the bottom. There are some interesting pictures. http://www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescienc...fish-facts.pdf
Everybody have a good day.
Hugh
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  #14  
Old 01-09-2011, 01:38 PM
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Dang. Look at the size of that brown from Cataloochee.
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  #15  
Old 01-09-2011, 05:16 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Hugh--Interesting find on the big fish photos. Although I have no real way of proving it, although I do think I have old black-and-white photos somewhere, I've caught several rainbows over the years larger (though not a lot) than the one taken from Hazel Creek. I might add that all of them were caught decades ago, and in the 1960s I hooked four or five 'bows which would have gone close to two feet. I don't think rainbows that large exist in the Park anymore.

Let me (indeed, all of us) know what else you learn. I do remember several tales, over the years, of huge browns coming out of Cataloochee. Most of them were purportedly caught down in the gorge.

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Old 01-09-2011, 05:20 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Whitefeather--On the "migrating" fish, I know beyond any reasonable doubt that some of the fish being stocked by the Tribal Fisheries folks are moving way upstream in Luftee, and it wouldn't be at all surprising to learn they had advanced as far as Bradley Fork. I spent considerable time in Luftee this year, covering pretty much all of it from the junction with Raven Fork all the way up to Minnie Ball Branch and beyond (in other words, to the point where it has changed names to Beech Flats Prong). I caught dozens of trout--'bows, browns, and specks--which had all the indicators of stocked fish (rubbed or missing fins, scars, indifferent coloration, etc.). There's no doubt they'll move many miles.
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  #17  
Old 01-09-2011, 06:19 PM
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Hugh Hartsell Hugh Hartsell is offline
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Jim,
Because of the time of the year and bad weather it gives me more time to reflect back on past events and try to recall all of the large fish that I have seen or hooked into while in the Park. It's a look into the past and maybe a perspective of what we might see in the future. When I was younger I used to see many rainbows in the Park that looked like they might reach 20 inches or better. The last large one that I hooked was about 4 years ago and it was about 18 inches fishing just below the Elkmont Campgrounds. A year or so before that I caught one that was 16-1/2 long farther downstream. The best rainbow that I have taken from the Park was 22inches from Abrams Creek. That was about 7 years ago. There have been many from that stream that ranged from 14 - 18 inches long. The largest Brown that I have ever seen in the Park was in Abrams Creek and it was even bigger than any of the big ones we have looked at from the photos. It was roughly 37 inches long and more than 15 pounds. About 4 years ago I was guiding a client on the Oconaluftee River during the spawning season and we saw numbers of fish that ranged from 16- 32 inches. I'm sure they are still there. For many years I have said that Catalooche Creek was overrun with large browns. It was almost impossible to catch a nice rainbow from many of the large holes in the Gorge. They had all been eaten or driven off to secondary holding areas. Many of the larger rainbows were killed out of Park waters by the drought years. We are just now beginning to see larger fish make a comeback and I believe that we might see some very nice rainbows in Little River and some other streams on the Tennessee side in the next few years. They do not have to compete so strongly with dozens of smaller fish and the growth should be fast. Let's see if that happens.
Hugh
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  #18  
Old 01-09-2011, 10:02 PM
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I have been fishing in the Park for 50 years but because of my location can only fish there a couple of times a year....I was up there in the mid 60 when the WPLP was a Sportsman's Stream and anything under 16 inches had to be tossed back...I had a friend that caught a 15" bow above HQ and it was not unusal to hook 12-14" bows regularly...did most of my fishing above Elkmont in my early years....largest trout I ever hooked was up Fish Camp Prong above where Goshen Creek comes in....this bow was as long as my forearm and as thick as my hand....still have dreams about that fish....used to see some huge bows in the large plunge pools up Fish Camp Prong but bait fisherman got to them...these fish were so big my buddy and I used to refer to them as torpedos....biggest fish I have caught in the Park was a 16" bow....those fish will take your breath away....
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  #19  
Old 01-10-2011, 09:26 AM
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I'm wondering how many of these "monsters" are actually released to fight again?? I'm sure there have been some brutes caught that were released, and with the mindset now of conservation first, it's a little strange to see the photos of these big browns strung up at the country store. Don't get me wrong, I love to eat fish, and I keep a few each year but I feel a lot better about it keeping the stockers down in the private waters and releasing the fish in the park where I know they are not artificially replenished. A couple of bad spawns and it really takes a toll, especially with all the pressure those streams receive. I'd like to think if I ever did hook a "monster" I'd CPR it, but, as of yet, I'm not even close to having that dilemma! I sure hope to find out one 'o these days though!
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  #20  
Old 01-10-2011, 01:08 PM
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You never know until it happens....all my youth I hunted largemouth bass looking to put a 10 pounder on the wall....lost three that would have done the trick....finally got one that was about 12 pounds when I was in my late 30s....took a lot of photos and admired the fish while it revived and then let it swim away....hard to pull a gene pool like that out of production.
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