Townsend, Tennessee - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is warm and partly cloudy in Townsend this morning.  A thunderstorm blew in yesterday and dumped some rain on the mountains.  Little River is clear right now.  We have two wild turkey hens with broods living around our house.  I saw them yesterday and this morning.  They were all together, both families.  One group of about 5 to 7  poults were the size of chickens. I saw one of them fly this morning.  The other brood is much smaller.  I bet they are a couple of weeks younger than the older brood.  It seems odd to me that two hens would stay together like a family.

Little River looks great this morning.  The flow is currently 198 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 166 cfs.  The water temperature is 66 degrees.  We are going to have some hot days and warm nights.  After today the highs will be around 90 degrees or above.  The water will get warm in the lower elevations.  I think I would drive or hike higher in the mountains this week.  The water will be cooler there.

I’ve been off but Daniel said he talked to plenty of anglers who were doing well in the Park.  Others were not.  Until yesterday the water was low which makes fishing tough.  Stay hidden, wear subdued clothing, use lighter tippet and get a good drift.  You have to do that when the water is low.  Those rules are essential to your success.  If you don’t follow those rules catching a trout is pretty much luck.

The smallmouth bass in the lakes have dispersed and cooled off.  Before this week the fishing has been outrageous.  Paula and I still caught some smallies but not in the numbers we did in previous weeks.  Also, there is a lot more traffic on the lakes.  The upper end of Tellico Lake which we fished this week was not bad.  One day we only saw one boat.  The carp were feeding well. I caught a 4 pound and 8 pound fish in two consecutive casts using a Puglisi baitfish pattern and a 5 weight rod.  Those fish are really fun to catch.  It’s a lot like fishing for reds.

The sampling of the brook trout project on Lynn Camp Prong is ongoing.  A lot of healthy adult brookies and young of the year fish have been captured over the past two weeks and that is encouraging.  The trout we stocked last fall had a successful spawn.  There is one problem though.  Eleven rainbow trout were found in the sample sites.  One was identified as a stocked fish that had been raised in a hatchery.  A huge waterfall keeps rainbows from entering the restored section of Lynn Camp Prong.  That means there was human intervention, “bucket biology”.  Probably, someone stocked those trout.

Now, if they are caught the damages they would incur are huge.  To get the stream ready for the first stocking cost $250,000.  More costs have been tallied up since then.  Money for this project comes from Troutfest and matching funds.  A lot of our TU members have worked for days on this.  Why would someone do that?  I guess they don’t like what the Park Service is doing and it’s their way of retaliating.

So what should be done.  First, if they catch this person or persons the fines should be compensatory to the cost of the project.  I think the act would be considered a misdemeanor.  But in civil court an award should be based on damages. 

Second, we could raise the money to staff the stream with a backcountry ranger.  I think our investment of time and money should be protected.  The only real threat to this project is people planting non-native rainbows or other species in Lynn Camp Prong.  Maybe paying for enforcement would be money well spent from private or federal sources.  Then, if the culprit is caught, imposed fines could be used to sustain enforcement. That’s what I would do if it happened to me.  That is what I have done all my adult life.  All of my assets are protected by security.  If you don’t do that, someone will try to take what you have away.

Third, we could use volunteers equipped with a radio to watch the stream in shifts.  And fourth, an interpretive sign could be placed on the trail at Lynn Camp Prong to act as a deterrent to someone willing to take a chance and to make other visitors aware of the potential for a crime and report any suspicious behavior.   

What the people saw on Lynn Camp Prong was good.  The total population of brook trout probably increased by 50%.  Some adults died of natural causes as they always do and the spawn was a success.  The presence of rainbow trout is merely a setback that needs to be addressed and corrected.  The project will move forward with increased determination and vigor from both the volunteers and the Park Service.  Failure is not an option.

Have a great day and thank you for being here with us.

Byron Begley
June 10, 2010 

Little River Outfitters will be hosting a book signing with Ron Ellis on Saturday June 26, from 1 to 3pm. He will be signing copies of the new book "In That Sweet Country, Uncollected Writings of Harry Middleton". I figured 1-3 was a good gives the anglers who venture out early in the day enough time to fish then come in for lunch and to meet Ron and for the anglers who are coming to Townsend to fish the evening hatch to stop in then head to the streams.

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