View Full Version : Rainbows in Lynn Camp

06-07-2010, 07:40 PM

I got to help out the fisheries department last Wednesday. It didn't go to well. We got rained out and only had time to shock up one of the two scheduled sections.

In that one section, we got four rainbows up, two male and two female. The fish looked very healthy, one was 12" and another was 14". Mr. Moore and Mr. Kulp were not present that day. One of the other guys mentioned that someone might have brought the bows in. I was astonished and could not believe that some idiot would undermined countless hours of physical labor and thousands of dollars because they like fishing for rainbows in a particular section of stream. Imagine having a stream where 12" brookies could be caught.

Mr. Moore is now stating that he also feels that someone is playing "bucket biologist". If that is the case, I really hope that the "sportsman" that is responsible gets caught. What a piece of trash.

Jim Casada
06-07-2010, 08:03 PM
Jason--How far above the barrier (waterfall) were the rainbows? While obviously they have the ability to move upstream if a bucket biologist planted them, it is unlikely they would cover much water if they found things suitable low down. In other words, I am wondering if it is possible that it wasn't bucket biology but fish which were somehow not killed.
That happened, and in a big way, in Indian Creek (the N. C. one that feeds Deep Creek) back in the late 1960s or early 1970s. It was a different scenario in some ways--rotenone (I think) rather than antimycin--but I can see what happened there being possible today. The problem in Indian Creek, almost certainly, was that some tiny branches which fed the creek had wee 'bows in them. They just moved downstream into bigger water and within two or three years Indian Creek was back just like it had been; namely, a stream full of smallish rainbows.
I've also read or heard of other possibilities, such as egg migration on the legs of wading or fish-eating birds, but to me that seems unlikely.
There's no doubt bucket biology has taken place in the Park in the past, with Abrams Creek and browns being a prime example. As those who have read my book carefully realize, I've always harbored some skepticism about the efficacy of speckled trout restoration (just can't bring myself to use the B word). However, no one would be more tickled than me to see things back to the kind of situation my 100-year-old father talks about, when there were specks everywhere until a given stream was logged, and when he once saw a speck frozen in a block of ice with red spots on it almost the size of a dime. I've actually seen such fish, but they were in Labrador.
If it is bucket biology, it would be wonderful to catch the perpetrator(s) and punish them to the maximum extent possible.
I've read some other information about the recent survey on Lynn Camp Prong--I gather precious few specks were found, especially new recruits, and if so that's a huge setback. Has anyone heard anything recently about Bear Creek and the restoration there?
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

06-07-2010, 08:14 PM
Jim - The bows were a few hundred meters upstream of the Panther Creek Trail junction.

Jim Casada
06-07-2010, 09:27 PM
Jason--Thanks, and that's not necessarily good news at all. That's an appreciable distance above the cascades, farther than I would have thought it likely for "bucket biology" rainbows to have migrated when there's plenty of fine water lower down. On the flip side of the coin, I don't think a bucket biologist would do illegal stocking while making that long a trip or, for that matter, that trout would survive after that long a hike.
A bit more heartening is that there were only four of them. How long a section of stream did you survey. If there were four in 50 meters or so, that's a dark cloud on the Lynn Camp horizon, but if the area covered was much longer, it's a bit more heartening.
Did your group find only rainbows or were there specks? If there were no specks, there's clearly reason for significant concern.
Thanks for your fine report (and your volunteer work with the Park).
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

06-07-2010, 09:36 PM
Jim - The section that we were working is four feet from the trail and the trail gets a lot of horse traffic. It would be easy. I can't recall exactly how long the sampled section was but the rainbows were somewhat clumped up in the last third. There were some specs in the group...around 10 if memory serves correct. Anywhere from about an 1" to around 7".

06-07-2010, 10:45 PM
I saw the story tonight on WBIR. The reporters and officials were insisting that the big rainbows they found were brought in there by someone. My first thoughts were that they just missed some bows somehow when running the poison because it's an aweful lot of water up there it could happen. Seems kind of odd that someone would plant bows in this stream so soon after the project completed and many years before it would even be open to fishing. There are lots of other brookie streams that are already open to fishing they could have "hit" if that was the case. The guy on the news actually said that "someone was planting rainbows so they could come up here and fish for them illegally". I thought that was pretty strange too since there are plenty of spots to fish for bows legally why would someone go through all that trouble. Anyway Jason thanks for your volunteer work with the park. I hope this turns out to not be as bad as it sounds.

Jim Casada
06-08-2010, 07:15 AM
Jason--Thanks. I hadn't thought about transport by horse, although it is an obvious possibility. I really wish the Park would ban use of horses, although I know just saying that will raise some hackles. Yet anyone who spends much time in the Park has to recognize the undeniable fact that horses do considerable damage, especially on steep trails. There are places, especially on the Tennessee side of the Park, where horses have turned high elevation trails into gullies. Then there's the stink and general mess in horse camps.
At least you find a few specks, and the fact that some were tiny suggests at least a bit of population recruitment. That being said, the overall scenario doesn't look good.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

06-08-2010, 09:26 AM
Hopefully, the four rainbows were the only rainbows left in the stream. I trust they were removed. I am glad there is continued monitoring work to complete the project.

I would also love to see horse traffic removed from the Park or at least greatly reduced. I have never understood why the Park has such stringent rules on human excrement while horse excrement lies in piles on certain Park trails. The horse traffic also destroys the hiking trails.

06-08-2010, 10:12 AM
I think that horses have been "grandfathered in" to the park, in respects to trail rights, because of their initial help in the construction of trails and bridges, or so I have been told.

I agree that they damage trails, streams, & campsites, although I won't place any additional blame on them for trash being left in the woods, as I have been extremely disappointed at the amount of trash i've seen on foot traffic only trails lately.

I'm sorry that Rainbows were found, again, in Lynn Camp. Thanks to everyone who has done work throughout the years in an effort to restore our native fish species. Hopefully everything will work out as planned in the end.

Jim Casada
06-08-2010, 12:08 PM
Grannyknot--Interestingly, over the years, I have gotten different explanations as Park officials attempted to justify allowing extensive use of trails by horses. I've heard the explanation you offer, one to the effect that locals had traditionally used horses (only marginally valid but there's some truth to it), and even suggestions they did no more damage than humans (which is unmitigated hogwash).
One explanation which was never offered, but there's appreciable truth in it, is that no one in a position of authority has had the intestinal fortitude to stand up to a pretty powerful lobby which includes some political bigwigs (same sort of situation which left "summer retreats" for the rich and influential intact, let politically powerful folks stay at the Calhoun House on Hazel Creek, and the like). Another thing which frosts my grits is the tremendous amount of noise pollution from motorcycles. There are places you can be five or six miles from a roadway and hear them.
In truth, it's a balancing act for bureaucrats, but they have long turned a blind eye to the deleterious impact of horses.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

06-08-2010, 10:12 PM
I gather that the "other identifying characteristics" referred to in the news report were probably concrete-scraped pectorals. While larger trout do suffer the effects of antimycin or rotenone poisoning more slowly, I find it really hard to believe that a fourteen incher would have gone unnoticed by previous shocking crews (unless this was the first time this stream was shocked)?

It's doubly distressing in that it is now June, and that sexually mature rainbow may already have spawned. I am sure Steve and his crew are just sick about this.

My solution to horse traffic is more pragmatic: (1) make them wear bags like the horse taxis have to in every major city (that will cut down on the besmeared trails) and (2) limit them to a handful of routes. They may already have regs on that; I have never tried horsebacking a trail.

As far as stupidity goes, I saw a study the other day. On one wall of a building, researchers posted a sign saying "Please do not write on this wall." On the other they wrote "Writing on this wall is FORBIDDEN!" No one wrote on the first wall; the second got graffitied heavily. Some people will do a thing just because they've been told not to.


06-08-2010, 11:41 PM
As far as stupidity goes,

I believe it was George Carlin who once said something to the order of.
when you consider how stupid the average person is, it becomes really frightening to realize that half of them are even more stupid.:smile:

I don't think that is the direct quote but the essence is there.


06-10-2010, 11:07 AM
To be rainbows of that size, these fish had to be stocked, since 14 inch native rainbows are not possible in this water. If they came from a NC or TN state hatchery (for example, they were caught out of hatchery supported water and put in a bucket) they are sterile and cannot reproduce. Hopefully, the damage may not be as bad as initially feared.

Mr. Casada asked about any shocking results from Bear Creek, and no one has responded. Bear Creek remains closed despite being poisoned and re-stocked a number of years ago. Have any shocking surveys been conducted on Bear Creek? Does it remain closed because of inadequate spec population count? Have rainbows also been detected here? The presence of rainbows in other re-stocked streams would indicate that either the poisoning methodolodgy is flawed or the rainbow terrorists are well organized.

06-10-2010, 03:11 PM
Hey Slipstream -

Man, I really wish you were right about the rainbows being sterile but I'm afraid you may not be. The only sterile stocker rainbows are triploids (which have an extra chromosome). There's nothing inherently different about any other kind of stocker from a stream bred rainbow. They have grown to a larger size than would be possible in a Smokies river environment in a shorter period of time, but they are definitely capable of reproduction if given time.

I've caught a lot of wild mountain rainbows in the S.E. In my experience, the males become reproductively active at about 14" long while the females may wait a little while longer. But that's assuming a lot of food, etc. (like a stocker). If you put in a 12" hatchery stocker it would most likely be a couple years before it was ready to spawn, assuming it survived in its native environment.

Once it did spawn though, its offspring would stunt to fit the environment just like any other stream-born trout. They would hit sexual maturity in a few more years (3-4) and at a much smaller size. Thus we're back to where we started.

Those hatchery fish need to be caught out ASAP. Rainbows mostly spawn in spring but they will begin spawning runs in the mountains as early as December. If one of them was 14" long, it might be ready to start this year. Moreover, those fish will be in great shape as the only fish of their size left in the river.

No one has said so but this stocker might have been motivated by simple big fish greed: as the only rainbow in the river, starting at 14", it isn't out of the question for those fish to top 20" or more even in skinny water like Lynn Camp Prong.



Active spawner 14" rainbow (male):


(Caught the first week of January).

06-10-2010, 03:26 PM
If we ban motorcycles, horses, cars and people from the park, it'd be the perfect place to get away and relax and enjoy the park. oh wait. nevermind.

Speaking of stockers...I believe I caught one a while back up near the shooting range on mingus. I thought I had a stellar rainbow from such a small creek, only to realize after looking at photos of the fish, that it was probably a stocker from cherokee. No major waterfall to climb that I know of, but that's quite a distance for a stocker who could have had better water down lower in the Luftee or Raven's Fork.

What makes one fish run that far upstream, to live in a tiny little pool no bigger than a coffee table? If it were the search for food, better oxygenated water, etc. - wouldn't they all be trying to get up there ( as they do in places like the Spring Run at Yellow Breeches in PA?)

Jim Casada
06-10-2010, 03:49 PM
Zach--Rainbows don't have to be anywhere near 14 inches in length to procreate. In fact, other than possibly Abrams Creek, rainbows of that size are few and far between in the Park (no matter what the size of the stream). I think that if you check with biologists or, for that matter, clean a few fish in spawning time (I don't know if you keep fish, of course), you'll find this is the case. In other words, those rainbows in Lynn Camp Prong are way beyond the point, size-wise, where they are capable of spawning.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Jim Casada
06-10-2010, 04:01 PM
Owl--I've caught "migratory" fish from Cherokee Reservation waters as far up as Kephart Prong and last summer I caught perhaps a dozen of them in the Tow String area. Clearly they do move a good ways, although as you suggest, the reason for going up a little stream like Mingus Creek is one I don't get. Just one of the endless mysteries which makes the sport so alluring.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

06-10-2010, 04:22 PM
Jim -

With respect, or perhaps due to me being unclear, I think you're missing my point.

I am aware that rainbows can spawn at much smaller sizes. My point was, if this was a typical stocker put in at 12" or so, it would still have a couple years to go before it spawned *due to the faster growth of stockers* while they're in a hatchery environment.

A 12" stocker is no more than a couple years old, because it's had a lot of food thrown at it. A 12" mountain-bred wild fish would be very old, 7-8 years, and thus would already have several spawning seasons under its belt.

Stockers don't spawn in their first year in tailwaters either. For all intents and purposes, these are "tailwater" style stockers that have been put in a mountain stream. If they survive, they might hit sexual maturity in a couple years. That 14"er that was shocked up is further along and could possibly spawn this year.

I may not have been very clear in my first post, and if so, I apologize.


06-10-2010, 04:28 PM
Sorry about my earlier post, my facts were wrong. Only the NC stocked rainbows are sterile. Apparently TN does not stock triploid trout, though I found it listed as one of the goals of their management plan.

"In a news statement from the folks at the North Carolina Wildlife Commission in Raleigh fisheries supervisor Mallory Martin has some interesting plans to share. Hatchery- raised trout stocked in NC streams beginning in 2009 won't experience parenthood. That's because all brook, brown, and rainbow trout will be sterile and unable to reproduce.

The NCWRC gradually has been shifting its production of trout from those that can produce fry to those that won't be able to spawn offspring.

The impetus for converting to sterile trout is to help preserve the native Southern Appalachian brook trout, said Mallory Martin, the commission's regional fisheries supervisor in Marion, NC."

Jim Casada
06-10-2010, 05:30 PM
Zach--Thanks for the clarification, but I guess I'll raise another question. Unless I'm off base, the life expectancy (on the long side) of a rainbow is 3-6 years at best, and I tend to think that super size for rainbows (which I would define as anything aboe 11 inches) is more a product of environment than longevity.
That being said, certainly precious few rainbows reach the length of those found in Lynn Camp Prong.
I find it curious that only one of them has been identified as a stocked fish. I can virtually guarantee that I can identify a stocked fish 99 times out of 100, although admittedly hatchery fish look much better than once was the case. Odds are, and very heavy odds, that they are all stocked fish.
As to the means of getting them there and "stocking" them, I suspect the scenario was something along the following lines:
(1) Buy rainbows from a trout farm--plenty of places to do that.
(2) Transport them, perhaps using some type of small aereated tank and perhaps a bit of the kind of chemicals bass fishermen use in live wells to keep fish alive, to the trailhead.
(3) Load them on a horse or, possibly but far less likely, in a backpack. I would note that the browns in Slickrock Creek are direct descendants of fish carried in using backpacks back in the 1930s.
(4) Dump the fish in the stream.
It would be pretty hard to catch someone doing this, and I'm not sure just how far a ranger could go with a search. I've never checked the regulations on that, but I can see it opening up an "unreasonable search" lawsuit if some litigious and innocent person was searched if the law isn't crystal clear.
The essence of the matter is that it is quite complicated and a prime example of how one or two *#$%^@ (I'll leave it to you and others to fill in the best descriptive term, because all that come to my mind would bring the censurious wrath of Paula down on my head) can make live miserable for all of us.
It is quite likely that the same mindset that used to see fires set regularly in the Park when I was growing up in Bryson City is at work here. There is a small, mean segment of locals, on both sides of the Park, who hold a deep, abiding hatred for it. That is sad indeed.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors).

06-10-2010, 08:52 PM
Yeah the rangers can ask to look in your pack or gear. but you have the right to tell them no. If you do they will not press it further unless they have witnessed you doing something illegal like picking some plants or something.
The one thing I haven't heard talked about in all of this is what is next for Lynn Camp Prong. Are they going to do some large follow up shocking? Obviously they can't shock the whole stream so what if there are more rainbows in there? Are they going to run the poison again and start over or just wait and hope for the best. I have heard a lot from the fisheries folks on how terrible it is and all the stuff they are going to do to these people that they will never catch, but not any strategy at all on how this may be handled from the fish management perspective which is a bit dissappointing.

06-10-2010, 09:16 PM
Crockett - the little bit that I have been involved in this process tells me that they will not be starting over. I am scheduled to volunteer again in a few days and will hopefully have a chance to ask what the status is.

I think that the fisheries department made a vocal stand to discourage anymore bucket biology. I don't think the person(s) involved will be caught unless there is a little bragging that makes it around. I really hope that whoever is responsible is that stupid.

06-10-2010, 11:23 PM
So far 15 rainbows had been found. 5 were in locations that were probably missed durimng the initial treatment. Others according to Steve Moore were most likely stocked (Ones Jason shocked for and all found in one short section of stream) as some had clipped fins. Don't know why someone would do this, but it's pretty sad. Now the whole fishery dept has to reschedule therer shoicking schedule to adapt to the fact that Rainbows were present. As I asked Matt Kulp if he thought anty Rainbows were expected and he said definitely not. I will post a report about my 2 days volunteering shortly as I had a sick kid all day today and worked all night.

On a good note there were YOY (Young of year) found throughout the stocked areas so it looks like besides the few rainbows all else is progressing just fine.:smile:

06-11-2010, 08:04 AM
Thanks so much for the update, duckypaddler. I look forward to the update.

06-11-2010, 08:22 AM
Hey Jim, guys -

If I recall correctly from law school, search and seizure laws are pretty darn weak these days. You need probable cause to search under the Constitution but there are a whole lot of exceptions. Nothing prevents an officer from asking to see what's in a bag politely. Even private citizens can do that (I get searched every time I go to a Braves game).

If someone declines to allow you to look in the bag, no big deal, just let them go on their way, BUT that becomes one of the factors in keeping an eye on a person for probable cause purposes. If an officer heard water sloshing on a pack or cooler, he would absolutely have probable cause to search, because that's not something you're typically going to hear (not a lot of water anyway).

There are many other reasons why an officer might be allowed to search a cooler, too, like enforcing the law on no glass bottles in the backcountry. Believe me, the rangers know this stuff cold. They will find a way to look.

As far as ages of trout go, I think 3-6 years is a bit short, though that might be very reasonable for a typical mountain fish. I know record trout live more than a decade, sometimes up to 12-16 years in good conditions (like lakes). Mountain fish are highly unlikely to live that long.

At the end of the day the rainbow trout is a very flexible animal. It adapts very well to greatly different conditions. We see body size as the main indication of that adaptability, but if you pull one trout out of the environment it's adapted for and put it in another one (stocking a hatchery stocker in a mountain stream, for instance), you've got to adjust your expectations.

Most of the hatchery websites I'm seeing from various state agencies estimate a hatchery 12" bow at about 2 years old. The Alaska Game and Fish website estimates trout begin to spawn at 3 years old and continue through age 7, varying greatly by density of population and size of water.

Anyway, the point is, they need to be caught out ASAP, because they probably have not spawned yet, but they certainly will if left in the river.


06-11-2010, 09:57 AM
Are they going to do some large follow up shocking? Obviously they can't shock the whole stream so what if there are more rainbows in there? Are they going to run the poison again.

That exactly what they are already doing. Yes they will shock the whole stream again. And yes Matt already had a strategy to fix several problem areas. While this is not good news, it's not the end of the world, and can be dealt with.

As far as stopping people. It's hard, but the park service can employ time motion cameras or other means to catch people. As far as how hard it would be to stock, I think any half smart redneck could accoplish this no problem. Cooler, Ice, bait areator. Wouldn't even need a horse, just a small backpack. Also if someone does get caught and gets at least a $5000 fine and would be liable for all the extra work that is now needed, or even could be held liable for the $300,000 this project has cost.

I know that besides this one section (with 10 fish), the 3 other areas were most likely no caused by anything other than mother nature.

Byron Begley
06-11-2010, 08:00 PM
I sent Steve an e-mail today recommending a reward for information leading to the conviction of whoever was responsible for transplanting the rainbows. I have not heard back from him yet. We talked yesterday about a lot of ideas but this one didn't come up. Actually this was my friend Jack's idea. Our TU Chapter has a fund balance of around $57,000 the last time I looked. Some of this could be held for a potential reward. Jack and I think this is the only way to catch them while also providing a deterrent from having this happen again. The chances are good that I know this person or these people. Any thoughts?


06-11-2010, 11:43 PM
I was showing this to my 15 year old son and he/we would like to know if any type of volunteering is till needed for Lynn Camp? I could probably work something out in July for a few days maybe even at the end of this month.

By the way, the reward idea might just prove to be a fruitful notion.

Jim Casada
06-12-2010, 06:36 AM
Byron--I think that's a potentially useful approach. It might lead to the offending party (ies) being reported, but even if it doesn't, there's certain to be a deterrant effect. The National Wild Turkey Federation and other groups have used a similar approach to good advantage.
Jim Casada

06-12-2010, 08:10 AM
I was showing this to my 15 year old son and he/we would like to know if any type of volunteering is till needed for Lynn Camp? I could probably work something out in July for a few days maybe even at the end of this month.

By the way, the reward idea might just prove to be a fruitful notion.

steamnteel - I would send an email to Charlie Chmielewski, who is the volunteer coordinator. His email address is charlieflyfish@gmail.com.

You could also email Matt Kulp (fisheries department) at matt_kulp@nps.gov.

I would probably start with emailing Charlie, he is usually pretty good about responding quickly.

06-12-2010, 10:43 AM
Jason I just sent Charlie a mail, thanks.


steamnteel - I would send an email to Charlie Chmielewski, who is the volunteer coordinator. His email address is charlieflyfish@gmail.com.

You could also email Matt Kulp (fisheries department) at matt_kulp@nps.gov.

I would probably start with emailing Charlie, he is usually pretty good about responding quickly.