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Old 08-14-2007, 10:22 PM
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PeteCz PeteCz is offline
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I think it IS taken very seriously by all of us who are part of the LRO Forums. I think what the original post was getting at, was trying to determine what the exact conditions are so that we can better decided when to stay away from fishing.

I think the two variables that we've discussed are temperature and water level. Obviously there are others, but the others (hopefully) don't change as rapidly. What seems to be a very valid set of questions are: at what point do the GSM Trout start to get stressed? and for what reasons? With better information, more people can make better decisions. Right now, the temps are high and the water is low, so we all know its not the time to fish. But what if the water level was at a good level and it was 70 degrees. Would it be ok to fish? If the temps are in the low 60s, how low does the water need to be to cause stress. It would be nice to figure out what those boundaries are, and then stay away from the stream at the proper times.

If we knew that temps at 68 and above degrees caused stress in the trout, I know that most all of us would not fish. But it doesn't look like there is any data to back that up. In fact, water temperatures in the upper 60s seem to actually support good growth in some species of trout (according to most research). So if the water levels come up and the temp stays in the upper 60s, should we fish?

The diversity of elevation and stream characteristics should prevent us from making blanket statements, as well. There are places in the park where the temperature has remained at almost optimal levels. If we got some more rain, it might be fine to fish again. While at the same time, its going to take a much more dramatic change in weather to make the lower parts of the Little River fishable.

Also, based on evidence from fish harvesting on some streams in the park (as part of the Brookie reintroduction), fishing is a very poor contributer to fish mortality. I can't remember the exact percentages, but when fishermen were instructed to harvest all of the fish they could over a two week period, they made a minuscule difference in the number of fish still in the stream. So even if people were fishing in less than optimal conditions (which I don't condone), its questionable how much stress they could really cause. Obviously tramping around in a stream cause stress in fish, even in optimal conditions, so how do we get all the little brat kids in the park to stay out of the water and stop throwing stones into the water. What about tubers? Surely they would cause stress, as well. At Metcalf Bottoms is looks like some highly intelligent individuals decided to create a channel to move what little water there is more swiftly through a section of the river. The "redevelopment" of the stream bed cannot be good for a large number of fish in that section of the stream. The list of stress factor is rather lengthy.

But more than anything else, the environment and the weather seem to shape fish mortality. We have a wonderful resource that I want my great-grandchildren to cherish someday. We all need to be good stewards of our fisheries and the park in general, but all that we do, should have some scientific basis.

I guess thats more than $.02 worth. Sorry for such a long post...
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Old 08-14-2007, 10:57 PM
snaildarter snaildarter is offline
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Default Seriously

Yes, PeteCz, exactly. I certainly take this seriously. I just want a decision to fish or not based on the best data we have. Without that data, it just becomes a battle of anecdotal viewpoints. We humans often make bad decisions when our emotions become involved in the process. And trout dying makes a lot of people emotional. Some people so much that they join PETA.

Ijsouth, your point seems very reasonable to me. Some streams are obviously in more trouble than others.
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Old 08-14-2007, 11:27 PM
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Well, I'll put things to the test this weekend; I'm driving up to look at some property (otherwise I would wait until October), and I'll try to fish a bit...the first thing I'll do is check the temperature. I can tell you right now that a whole lot of streams are off the list from the get-go - everything will be up high, and under a canopy. Thank goodness the temps are easing off a bit - even here; I think we actually stayed under 100, and I thought I heard some thunder at work. Fall is coming, y'all...be patient.
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Old 08-15-2007, 01:49 AM
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Fishermansfly Fishermansfly is offline
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As Byron stated in an earlier report in his talking with Walter Babb, Walter had stated that these trout had survived through millions of years of abuse in the elements. I whole heartedly believe that statement to be true. Now leading to your question regarding morality of the trout in droubt conditions we must add a "few" factors!

1) Acid rain put in place by large companies poluting the air as well as your car and mine putzing around town!

2) As previously stated by another gentlman on this board, I believe the thread read-Trash! Litter bugs/aka general idiots whom have no common sense to see the impact on there discarded cigarette butts, beer cans, and vehicle tires on the eco system as a whole!

3) Taking into account the message board! There are over a thousand members to this board alone. Lets just take a third of them and say that they live within close proximity to the park and fish it on there weekend's off just one time on there two day weekend.....That's around 300 board members seeing some stretch of the GSMNP at some point and time during the week! Now add in the usual summer time crowd that lingers in Townsend, let alone Gatlinburg, and you have your self a whole lot of people in the water attempting to catch trout!

4) Let's also add in that there is also a profilific tuber hatch going off every morning starting around 9am and stretching until dusk or better! Now take into account that these tubers are sliding down an unusually smaller stream than the norm!

Now number 5 is worth listing but really aggrivates me! The NP Service employs somewhere around 4 uniformed officers to patrol Blount, Sevier, and Monroe counties all the live long way to NC. Here's the good part! You and I pay for our beloved fishing license and accompaning trout stamp yearly! A good number to really look at would be how many people illegally fish the park without a license! Lack of officials in the park allow these (for lack of a better term) terds to most of the time get away with it. So with that thought in mind we have individuals in the park whom will come to our park and not contribute one dime to the NP Service or TWRA. Monies that could be dispursed for additional officers and stocking of the very fish they catch! A person that won't pay for a license is more than likely the person who doesn't give a hoot about littering up the very waters we wet lines in!

Now that I have that off my chest....I don't quite know what numbers your looking for but I can say this! The fish are under stress and yes they probably will survive seeing as they have endured many years of nature's worst abuse, but when the added factor of man contributes to the stress is certainly doesn't help matters at all. The fish didn't see that kind of stress 30 yrs ago let alone a thousand!!! I think I'd be taking this from another weary thread but I honestly don't think that visitors to the park are our main source of littering! It's the good ol boys that just really only care about them selves! I would imagine that most of the streams you are refering to that are out west don't see the type of idiotic behavior our streams see and most of them are heavily gaurded by it's guides on the water and well manned enforcement efforts!

On another note! I would love to see new law regarding licenses. I think anyone whom is on the water should have to cleary display there license at all times so that it may be seen by everyone and should be able to identify from roadside! Another thing that would be fantastic to see from a law enforcement standpoint would be a vehicle sticker. The sticker would not be renewable and would require changing with change of your license! This way when law enforcement see's a vehicle parked roadside at waters edge and an angler near, all he would have to do is look for the sticker. If there isn't a sticker present on the vehicle he/she would/could closer inspect the anglers closest to the car. This would allow for the "calling out" of a fellow angler! There's no way now, for another angler to know who he/she is sharing the water with. Sad to know you could be getting skunked! You had paid your dues and some terd beside you who didn't pay for his, has the stringer of a lifetime!

Off my soap box but remember, always pick up others trash, take only what you will eat, and leave it as you left it so that your kids and mine can see it as we once saw it! So I don't personally think that it's a matter of turning person's into PETA affiliates, it's just a matter of seeing the actions of other's worsening as days progress! There is an old saying that most people won't change until they hit rock bottom! I hope my child, grand children etc, never have to see that day! This world is long overdue for a change to it's enviornment and how we care for mother earth!

Something else to add people whom don't purchase a license aren't contributing to any form of monies that would be directed towards your very question! Research!

Last edited by Fishermansfly; 08-15-2007 at 02:54 AM..
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Old 08-15-2007, 07:53 AM
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jeffnles1 jeffnles1 is offline
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Something else to add people whom don't purchase a license aren't contributing to any form of monies that would be directed towards your very question! Research!
There is a word for people who fish without a license. Poacher.

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Old 08-15-2007, 09:00 AM
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Fishermansfly Fishermansfly is offline
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Poaching is the matter at hand however it is no longer refered to in TCA (Tennessee Code Annotated) as poaching! Simply fish/hunt with out a license! Just some legal mumbo jumbo term and language I'm used to speaking in! Poacher, would refer to one person, whom is performing some form of illegal act while taking wildlife ie; hunting from roadway, illegal trapping, wildlife out of season, the taking of brookies from a closed stream, etc. Yes, yes they are all poachers and I'd love to see them all get a taste of there own medicine! The jails aren't big enough and the fines aren't steep enough!
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Old 08-15-2007, 01:09 PM
lauxier lauxier is offline
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Default ecosystem

Poachers,tubers,trash dumpers,acid rain,nutrientless waters,weather,are all factors to be considered when discussing the SMNP breakdown.
My friend Eric's daughter ,Shannon, is a geographical Phd.She works at NASA where she is a enviromental evaluator of satellite photos of the USA.She dropped by the other day.We talked about pollution and eviromental stuff relative to the Eastern US and SMNP and the destruction of the enviroment that fuels "the delicate ecosystem" that is the Smokies.She believes in 15years the Smoky Mtn ecosysten will begin the detiorate,because of the high levels of carbon monoxide,and other auto emission poisonous bi-products that are currently at almost toxic levels .She said,the Smokies is the most resiliant N.P. in the USA,because it is the most enviromently stressed NP in the USA.The popular trend of luring tourists by the millions into the area will eventually increase emissions to toxic levels that will cause adverse effects to all aspects of the ecosystem.The waters and aquatic life will suffer with decreased levels of oxygen,causing stunted fish,tainted water etc. so we should add emissions,which is invisible and passive.That's what is nice about tubers--you can see them--
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Old 08-15-2007, 01:48 PM
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donwinn donwinn is offline
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Default Mortality

This is a great topic, and I would like to see some studies on the topic. I am not a "tree hugger", but I do care about the environment. I certainly care about the SMNP, and the magnificent opportunity it provides me to fish and enjoy nature. I love catching Brook trout, not because they are bigger and fight better, but because I have such respect for the fact that they have survived for so long despite the destruction of most of their environment. If you have not seen what those mountains looked like after the logging, pick up a book in the visitors center about the history of the mountains. The only way the Brook trout survived was by climbing higher than the loggers could reach. Besides that, they are just beautiful.

I don't blame anyone for wanting to fish these waters, even now. But, I do think we can fish barbless, check the temperature and fish in cooler water, and release the fish as soon as possible as Bryon has suggested. Again, I am not a scientist, but I bet most of us are staying inside when we can, unless we are fishing of course, during these hot days. If it affects us, it surely affects the fish.
Don Winningham

I don't live just to fish, but I want to fish just as long as I live.

Last edited by donwinn; 08-15-2007 at 04:06 PM..
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Old 08-16-2007, 11:45 PM
snaildarter snaildarter is offline
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I've looked, but haven't really found any new studies. I did find a book, Trout, by Stolz and Schnell, that says Rainbows are pretty comfortable up to 70, and can survive up to 83. The same book says Browns grow best between 55 and 60, but can survive to 80. And when another study shows that trout grow best between 65 and 75 F, and another says he won't fish anything above 65 because it kills trout, well, somebody's wrong.

So I'm left to try to form the best opinion I can. I think temperature is a strong factor to consider, and so is extremely low water. And more important than both of these is which stream-or-region-specific factors limit the trout biomass in a stream to begin with. As I pointed out earlier, it seems that in the Smokies, it is all about water nutrients, and whatever fish anglers kill has little or no long-term impact.

The most logical personal policy that I can attempt to create is this: I don't think that temps below 75 hurt the fish much. I don't think that low water hurts the fish much, but extremely low water does. Combined, maybe they do hurt the fish a good bit. But these factors may be irrelevant since the only fish I'm gonna catch during such conditions are small fish, which will easily be replaced next spawn when trout biomass will quickly shoot up to match the available food supply, which again in the Smokies is the limiting factor. And on top of all this, the Browns and Rainbows are invasives anyway, so it doesn't really matter much if I'm wrong about those two.

So the question boils down to this: Does it make you feel bad to fish for stressed trout, even though, in this circumstance, they should rebound? I guess my own answer is no, because the very act of angling for them even under the best of circumstances stresses them out, and kills a few. When they are really stressed, it surely kills more. But in the case of the Smokies, it shouldn't matter very much. Maybe it might make the fishing this Fall somewhat tougher, so maybe it is selfish of me to have this view. But those remaining fish should grow better, and should have more food to eat, and because they are more fit, should spawn better.

So all that is a long-winded way of defining my personal beliefs about fishing in the Southern Appalachians: If wild Rainbows and Browns, go fishing, and don't worry about it. Release them fast and use barbless hooks (like I always do anyway). If wild Brookies, don't fish them when the water is extremely low and extremely hot (above 70) unless the stream has a ton of tiny fish, in which case it doesn't matter. If stocked (any species), then fish regardless of anything.

I feel that some may think my views mean, but so would the PETA-types for us forum-ites fishing at all. I've not attempted to be mean, only to be logical. That's the best I can do.

This has been a fun discussion, although it would have been nice to have a heavyweight, like a trout biologist, share some opinions. I am glad for the opportunity to interact with all yall. You've helped me come to a belief that I can have some comfort with, at least until someone produces some better numbers.
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Old 08-17-2007, 08:57 AM
irfishing irfishing is offline
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What an interesting discussion. While it would be great if there was a definitive
answer to the question posed, why not just take the conservative approach and give the trout the benefit of doubt until reliable information is available.
Is it really that big of a deal?
Just my .02
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