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Old 02-08-2012, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Jim Casada View Post
1. The disappearance of smallmouth bass from most Park streams. In the 1960s the lower end of many Park streams had goodly numbers of smallmouth bass. Today, with the notable exception of Abrams Creek, that is no longer the case. There may be the occasional bronzeback below The Sinks, and that's about it other than Abrams Creek. Matt Kulp, Steve Moore, and I have talked about this at some length and we all agree that the most likely explanation is that there is far more canopy today than was once the case, which in turn translates to colder water. Incidentally, this past summer's sampling of Deep Creek, with one of the two days of work being done right in the campground just above the Park line, precisely one smallmouth was captured. There were lots of them here when I was a boy and young man.The same was true of redeyes.
Jim Casada
Jim, unless you fellows discussed it already, I thought I would ask Matt if he perhaps has some raw peripheral smallmouth data for the '90s from the electrofishing sampling trout species distribution research done then. Unfortunately, some once upon a time smallmouth waters didn't get included prior to funding being cut soon thereafter.
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Old 02-08-2012, 08:11 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Thanks for some interesting insight and I hope there will be more. I'm going to try to address each comment and/or thought before heading out early tomorrow for the National Wild Turkey Federation Convention in Nashville.
MBB and Adam--Yes, there are more fishermen in my view, but only in the frontcountry. I'm pretty sure the backcountry angling is actually down, based on my observations, those of others, and the Park's own statistics on the number of backcountry campers (way down from two decades ago yet suddenly we are told the backcountry is overcrowded and they need to charge fees to camp AND register to camp.
MBB--I agree on the size of rainbows. "Bows in the 14-18-inch range were caught with some frequency when I was a boy and young man. No more.
Adam--There is definitely far more information available today, but some suggestions to the contrary I don't think it has impacted remote areas. They don't get much pressure--period. I'm not sure where I stand on fewer fish being eaten meaning more trout. I actually was able to catch more fish in many streams 40 years ago than I am now, never mind that everyone ate them then. On the other hand, there were fewer fishermen in the frontcountry but if anything more in the backcountry. Folks may differ with me there, but I'll use one example. In the 1960s and 1970s you could always count on folks being at Polk Patch and the Bryson Place on weekends. The last two times I walked through or camped at these Deep Creek sites there was no one there--in mid-summer.
Rob, BlueRaiderFan, and JoeFred--I'm almost certain, never mind what guide books say (and I give too much credit the smallmouth and redeyes in my book, although I mainly focus on lower Abrams, where they do remain in good numbers), that bronzebacks are all but gone in the Park. You'll get the occasional one in the very lower end of some of the North Shore streams in the heat of summer, but they are basically scarce as hen's teeth. BRF I'm almost certain that your kinfolks would have caught bass on down the Little River--once it leaves the Park bronzebacks become more plentiful. Byron, who is a keen smallmouth man, tells me they are few and far between on the Little River in the Park. Matt and Steve say the same thing. I will have to ask them if there is any data back a few decades on smallies.
Knik--Trashy people throw trash and it seems they are always with us. It wasn't as bad decades ago, and I think there are two explanations. I genuinely believe folks had more pride and were less inclined to foul their own nest and there were fewer visitors.
Thanks to everyone and keep the thoughts coming.
Jim Casada
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Old 02-09-2012, 02:01 AM
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Now I remember; they were by the indian head near the (what's the name of that hole?). Said they were wearing out some sort of bass.
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Old 02-09-2012, 08:55 AM
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I've caught 2 Smallies in G-burg in the last several years although I've seen many more around mid-town. I've never caught one any further up though than mid-town. Water must warm enough in the sunny spots down that low to accommodate them.
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Old 02-09-2012, 11:08 AM
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David Knapp David Knapp is offline
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Large rainbows are still very much a possibility if you are fishing the right streams. They run up from hatchery supported water (throughout the Park I might add) and can add quite a surprise to a fishing trip with otherwise small fish. The big difference is that these fish have to run up from water below whereas they were actually stocked in the Park many years ago.

Little River still has fairly good numbers of smallies from the Sinks down as well as over on the lower end of Middle Prong. More than once I have been excited at spotting nice fish on lower LR only to discover after getting a decent look at them that they are actually smallies and not the big trout I'm looking for.

As far as catching more fish many years ago, remember that fish experiencing more fishing pressure and or catch and release will become far more wary. As more and more people are fishing on the easy to access streams and releasing the vast majority of their fish, we must increasingly adapt to more accurately match the hatch if we hope to continue with reasonable levels of success.

Many years ago fisherman could get by with a handful of dry flies as well as a few wet flies developed specifically for fishing the southern Appalachians. Those days are now gone. With more and more fishermen focusing on match the hatch, the trout will be less and less gullible. Out west, fisherman will use what we would consider tailwater tactics even on the freestone streams. As more and more fisherman move towards matching the hatch, I believe that we will see more people fishing tiny nymphs and midges in the Park as we constantly try to find that new method that will outfish others.
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Old 02-09-2012, 11:10 AM
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4. The changing nature of fishing. I see far more two-fly rigs, far greater use of nymphs, and less reliance on dry flies. A fair number of oldtimers of my acquaintance thought that nymphs were but one step removed (and a short one at that) from bait fishing.

Many. many years ago I was getting some pointers on fly fishing from an older gentleman in my community who was an avid fly fisherman. He was teaching me how to roll cast and a few other things. During the lessons I asked him about fishing a nymph under an indicator or something and he quickly whirled around to face me and with a look of disgust on his face said in a harsh voice, "Blasphemy! Son, that's pure fly fishing blasphemy! If you resort to that kinda tactic, you're no longer a fly fisherman. Dry flies only, son, on top. All else is blasphemy!"

I learned a lot from that old fella, not just about casting and such, but about identifying flies and how to fish certain type waters, but I cant say I held to his dry fly only approach, although I do prefer to fish dries if at all possible.
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Old 02-09-2012, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Jim Casada View Post
.........A fair number of oldtimers of my acquaintance thought that nymphs were but one step removed (and a short one at that) from bait fishing.

Jim Casada
Very interesting Jim. Were these "oldtimers" what we now refer to as purists? The reason I ask is that when you talk to Walter Babb about the men who taught him to fish with a fly (and beyond that, the men who taught his dad to fly fish), he rarely talks about anyone using dry flies. Actually I believe he mentioned at troutfest last year that he never saw his dad using a dry fly.

Possibly just a culture difference between residents of Western North Carolina and Eastern TN? Or maybe just that the men Walter grew up around were more of subsistence fishermen rather than sportsmen.
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Old 02-09-2012, 11:38 AM
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AL trout bum AL trout bum is offline
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This dry fly snobbiness intrigues me. I myself would prefer, of course, to catch any and every fish on a dry fly, or topwater bugs for smallies. However, fly fishing began with streamers and wet flies, not the other way around. Dry fly fishing is relatively new in the fly fishing world. So a true purist in my mind, would be a long ways away from a dry fly purist. A lot of people take the moral ground on drifting eggs, etc. but will turn around and use a San Juan worm. I've used the worm, not the egg, but not because I am above it. I like to catch fish, and sometimes (depending on where you are, what time of year, etc), a dry fly simply won't work. Fly fishing would be better off IMHO without all of the "you're not a true fly fisherman because you don't wear tweed coats and leather sling packs while fishing bamboo rods with silk line and dry flies." Like I said, I prefer to take a fish on dries as opposed to any other method, but I refuse to become so uptight that I can't throw a nymph or streamer to catch fish when that's all that works. I rarely use an indicator when doing this, but see nothing wrong with those that do.

I think it all comes down to why you fish. Do you like being out in God's creation and feeling that tug on your line? Or do you like thinking that you are the last remaining "purist" and if it isn't done your way, it's not fly fishing. To me it seems that those that simply enjoy the sport don't get caught up in all the other, or else their reason for doing it isn't what they say it is, or they simply like feeling "superior" to others. Otherwise, not one word would ever be spoken in regards to what the correct way to fly fish is. I have been guilty of this myself. I like to make fun of and characterize ALL bait fisherman or gear chuckers as knuckle dragging people with zero respect for our resources, that eat every fish they catch and just can't understand or learn the art of flyfishing because it's above their head. However, that's how I fished just a year ago. I think there is a similar outlook amongst fly fisherman between the dry fly purists and those that nymph, fish SJ worms, etc. I have to remind myself that while some give each style of fishing a bad name, we can't characterize one way as a right way, nor can we make blanket statements about those that don't do it our way. Look in the mirror guys and examine yourself. I am just as guilty as most, and it's a constant battle for me to remain humble and not feel like I'm better than someone because they don't fly fish.

The only things that should matter are 1) Is the resource being respected by the fisherman?, 2) Is the fisherman fishing in a legal manner, after that it comes down to common respect and courtesy. Sometimes we need a wake up call, or at least I do. I am not typing this to one person, but more of a rant in general to something that has bothered me for a while. I hope no one takes offense to it and maybe we can have a constructive dialogue on it.

Last edited by AL trout bum; 02-09-2012 at 11:52 AM.. Reason: adding info
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Old 02-09-2012, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by AL trout bum View Post
However, fly fishing began with streamers and wet flies, not the other way around. Dry fly fishing is relatively new in the fly fishing world.
This is true... as I mentioned in another thread a while back, it wasn't until the late 1800's that we started using dries over here in America. Theodore Gordon modified some English dries to mimic bugs he found up on the Neversink River. It was then that fishing dries started to catch on due to how effective this method became for catching trout. Now, the name "Gordon" doesn't that name ring a bell to anyone, sounds somewhat familiar... ?? So you can see how it might have taken a considerable about of time for those patterns and techniques to spread down to say the Smokies and around the country. Hence the focus on wets and streamers for as long as folks can remember and the introduction of using dries only here in more recent times.

Tight Lines,
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Old 02-09-2012, 12:37 PM
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PeteCz PeteCz is offline
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Default The hundred year old argument...dries v. non-dries

As others have noted, the current incarnation of dry fly fishing has been around since the 1800s, but the argument of which is the "right" way really started to get elitist in the early 1900s.

This is an enjoyable web article on a bitter battle that took place 100 years ago in the UK.


And the battle persists...

"Even a fish wouldn't get into trouble if he kept his mouth shut."
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