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Knik
07-28-2015, 07:58 PM
I have heard tale of large brook trout from Cosby and other streams in the park, way back before the logging companies. I can understand how they would have been larger back then, but how much larger is my question. Anyone have any insight on the subject?

ifish4wildtrout
07-28-2015, 08:19 PM
I have heard stories of 14+ inch Brooks. This would have likely been in the larger more fertile streams. Thinking places like lower Luftee, Deep, Hazel, etc. Bigger water, more food, and no competition from browns and bows.

I'm strictly speculating, though.

MedlenAround
07-28-2015, 09:24 PM
SPECulating....I see what you did there, ifish :biggrin:

Grannyknot
07-29-2015, 09:08 AM
I have read a few books where the author interviewed people who claim to have caught very large brook trout in what is now the park, before the introduction of rainbows & browns. I always assumed that brook trout were plentiful in all the park streams, but in a book I recently finished, one guy describes abrams creek of being pretty much devoid of any edible fish before the introduction of the rainbows.

JayR
07-29-2015, 10:02 AM
I have read a few books where the author interviewed people who claim to have caught very large brook trout in what is now the park, before the introduction of rainbows & browns. I always assumed that brook trout were plentiful in all the park streams, but in a book I recently finished, one guy describes abrams creek of being pretty much devoid of any edible fish before the introduction of the rainbows.


Very interesting about Abrams. Wonder if that was a product of the farming practices back in the day? Prior to the days of contour plowing/no till plowing, I would think silt runoff was very bad in the cove.

elkhaircaddis
07-29-2015, 11:41 AM
I have also heard Abrams used to be void of life, they actually poisoned it for some reason. I'll try to find a link, I've seen it on another site somewhere

JayR
07-29-2015, 11:50 AM
I have also heard Abrams used to be void of life, they actually poisoned it for some reason. I'll try to find a link, I've seen it on another site somewhere

According to what I have found, the Park service poisoned it in 1957 in order to kill all the "rough" fish so as not to compete with the rainbows they were going to stock.

elkhaircaddis
07-29-2015, 02:31 PM
That was it! Couldn't quite remember the details

JayR
07-29-2015, 05:40 PM
I have heard stories of 14+ inch Brooks. This would have likely been in the larger more fertile streams. Thinking places like lower Luftee, Deep, Hazel, etc. Bigger water, more food, and no competition from browns and bows.

I'm strictly speculating, though.

I would have to think that way back in the day, prior to TVA, Alcoa, etc., that with rivers such as the Little T and others, there were some pretty large brook trout especially prior to rainbows and Browns being imported. It would be interesting to hear just how large and numerous they were.

Knik
07-29-2015, 07:38 PM
It would be interesting to hear just how large and numerous they were.

Sure would JayR. I would also like to know what the water temps were back then on certain streams, I can only imagine alot cooler and the trout much larger than todays. With all the different layers of canopy overhead, I'm guessing it was a much different place.

mtnman2888
07-30-2015, 10:38 AM
I've heard the same thing, although I don't know exact numbers. I would imagine they could get quite large in some of the lower elevation streams. Also, there are still some large brook trout around, especially in the few areas where they couldn't log. I remember seeing some stream shocking reports several years ago that showed some good sized brook trout over 12".

I would be interested to see some more recent data, perhaps I'll question Mr. Kulp on this.

bigsur
07-30-2015, 11:16 AM
Here is a link to an article in Smoky Mountain News back in 2013 with some quotes from some of our locals and home grown folks Jim Casada, the Rutters and Steve Moore. Interesting days of old info. Maybe if they see this forum post they can expand on!

Here is the link:

http://www.smokymountainnews.com/outdoors/item/10361-bringing-back-the-brookie-successful-restoration-paints-bright-future-for-native-trout

Joe Congleton
07-30-2015, 12:53 PM
i suspect there are several veteran GSMNP fishers on here who have caught 12 inch brookies in the Park. One stream had a good number of large brookies, including some fish that size , within the last 25 years of this post. Name of stream is irrelevant at this point because the fish are not there in those proportions now.

As to the Casada quotes Big Sur has referenced, hatchery released or based fish were in my experience all (browns rainbows or brookies) called "dough bellies" in many circles; not because of lack of belly color but because some were hatchery fed bread dough like pellets prior to more modern trout chow being formulated. As many know doughballs are a deadly bait on hatchery fish, even today.

IMO Native fish of all species in the Park have always had spectacular side and belly coloration, regardless of species.

There is a flyfishing club of sorts in the Knoxville area that for several years gave annually a trophy for the largest member fly-caught trout from the
GSMNP and a second trophy from the Tellico WMA area streams. The trophy may still be presented but during the years '72-'80 -+ in which l was familiar (and won it a few times) l can only recall one fish over fifteen inches winning
the GSMNP trophy. Some of these guys fished several days a week. And were deadly on small stream tactics. Brown trout were far far more rare then, and there were in fact observed browns over that 15 inch size in Little River and elsewhere but not many were fly caught then; a 22 inch brown from Bald River won the Tellico trophy one year .
The oral history of that club went back into the '50's ( couple of members had fished the park since the 30's and one's father had been with Colonel Townsend when one train car brought a barrel load of trout in to the Park); and as l recall no GSMNP rainbow over 18 inches was ever discussed in those days. Some Tellico ultimate headwater streams had some very nice brookies in them in the 70s-12 inches may have been maximum sized but l can recall hands and knees crawling to catch some nearly the size there.

I spect there are several senior aged posters who have similar accurate
observations.

Knik
07-30-2015, 01:01 PM
Thanks for the link bigsur

MBB
07-30-2015, 02:02 PM
I heard Steve Moore, former GSMNP biologist, say there are catch reports of 18" brook trout in Little River circa 1910, just before massive logging. Just a few years ago, a NC biologist reported they shocked a 16" pure Southern strain brook trout in one stream.

Grannyknot
07-30-2015, 03:39 PM
... a 22 inch brown from Bald River won the Tellico trophy one year .


Joe do you recall if that was the one Tim Doyle caught?
off topic. just curious.

Joe Congleton
07-30-2015, 04:42 PM
no Jim Giffen. A somewhat casual angler but in right place in right time as the rain ended and the water rose...

Joe Congleton
07-30-2015, 04:55 PM
Granny-no . A somewhat casual angler but in right place in right time as the rain ended and the water rose…

Another note--some earlier comments mentioned better shade and tree cover in by gone days. Prior to white man's entry in to the area that shade might might be true. After mountain farming and then logging began the areas near streams and later all about all elevations where cut extensively and substantial erosion and temperature change occurred. Photos of early logging and later logging show completely denuded hillsides way up the streams. Remember a fellow landed a bi-plane at Elkmont in the 20s, and logging railroads went way up about all the watersheds (including Slick Rock, which is today a designated federal wilderness area). From the early 1900s for thirty plus years the hills above Jakes Creek and upper Little River looked like a Jefferson County cow pasture as far as shade cover goes.

duckypaddler
07-31-2015, 07:44 AM
I would be interested to see some more recent data, perhaps I'll question Mr. Kulp on this.

My advice would be to volunteer a couple hundred hours for him and you will find him to be an open book:biggrin:

I was asking him about this very subject trying to get a general answer from him as to where a monster Brookie location was. He answered with the exact pool:eek: And can you believe, I haven't even tried to fish it yet:biggrin:

duckypaddler
07-31-2015, 07:52 AM
Granny-no . A somewhat casual angler but in right place in right time as the rain ended and the water rose…

Another note--some earlier comments mentioned better shade and tree cover in by gone days. Prior to white man's entry in to the area that shade might might be true. After mountain farming and then logging began the areas near streams and later all about all elevations where cut extensively and substantial erosion and temperature change occurred. Photos of early logging and later logging show completely denuded hillsides way up the streams. Remember a fellow landed a bi-plane at Elkmont in the 20s, and logging railroads went way up about all the watersheds (including Slick Rock, which is today a designated federal wilderness area). From the early 1900s for thirty plus years the hills above Jakes Creek and upper Little River looked like a Jefferson County cow pasture as far as shade cover goes.

Your comments echo what I have heard Walter Babb say about the Tellico watershed. While we know the trout need some cover, Walter was saying how with the Rhodo all grown up how little light penetration kept the area from being nearly as good a fishery as it once was.

What do you think Joe?

And I notice you left out where the park about the plane crashing at take-off:biggrin: Not sure if that story was from Mayday Mayday, or Last Train to Elkmont but was some good reading for sure.

bigsur
07-31-2015, 09:51 AM
[QUOTE=There is a flyfishing club of sorts in the Knoxville area that for several years gave annually a trophy for the largest member fly-caught trout from the GSMNP and a second trophy from the Tellico WMA area streams.
The oral history of that club went back into the '50's ( couple of members had fished the park since the 30's and one's father had been with Colonel Townsend when one train car brought a barrel load of trout in to the Park); and as l recall no GSMNP rainbow over 18 inches was ever discussed in those days. Some Tellico ultimate headwater streams had some very nice brookies in them in the 70s-12 inches may have been maximum sized but l can recall hands and knees crawling to catch some nearly the size there.
I suspect there are several senior aged posters who have similar accurate
observations.[/QUOTE]

Joe
Good stuff in your post, did anyone ever write down the oral history from that time period for the club? That would be invaluable for future anglers to see where we have been, like Bill Landry does in his local Heartland series here in E. Tennessee except this for fly fishing and Smokies history.

If there were enough members left it would be easy to do, here are the basic steps::biggrin:

1. 1/2 gallon Makers Mark-strictly for lubrication of tongue loosening

2. October time frame-wood fire & cabin required of course for proper storytelling

3. Really deep leather chairs-makes it very hard for members to leap out of chair and challenge other member's stories. Also induces eventual naps after a couple of half hearted challenge attempts and 1/2 the bottle gone

4. There is of course a mathematical formula that would be utilized regarding the stories accuracy, they would each be based on the following scale:
A. Minus 20%-Memory loss of events-due to medical or psychological
reasons or past blunt force trauma to head in recent times:smile:
B. Minus 10%-actual out right lie
C. Minus 10%- member was not even there at time of actual event
D. Minus 10%-Someone will forget the pen, paper or camera to record this
historical event. (do not worry the liquor will make it)

5. No firearms-It's Tennessee for God's sake-we all know what liquor and
historical story telling does.:smile:

Even with the possible 50% deduction above we still have a 50% shot of the truth which is much higher than we normally get with most retelling of history. I suggest a younger member of this forum do the actual recording of this summit meeting of anglers. First reason, he may be able to stay awake in front of the fire, second reason we need somebody to drive us home after a 1/2 gal. of Makers.:biggrin:

Seriously if this has never been done we should not let these types of angling history slip away. Now drive me back to the rest home, it's green jello night! ;)

Joe Congleton
07-31-2015, 10:14 AM
Paddler-I heard the Elkmont airfield story from Elkmont community folks before I read Vic Weals account.

Tellico fish probably took as much of a beating from mountain boys poaching as they did from shade etc IMO. Ironically the Tellico WMA special reg streams had some really nice sized fish of all species in them in 70s ; arguably a better chance for a large fly caught trout there in that decade than in Park streams by many accounts. I camped there a bunch in 60s and 70s and in retrospect it was not exactly a safe spot due to some of the locals attitudes

Joe Congleton
07-31-2015, 11:20 AM
BIG Sur-

Possibly best post ever on this board. Your talent at humor is acknowledged. Deadly accurate as well on facts of the process. The oral history now is only in the heads of a few of the generation like me who hung around the really old veterans of mountain fly fishing. I have some flies, rods reels etc from some of those guys. Two them played in the NFL RIGHT AFTER WW II. their knees were so bad they hobbled in our streams. To
The man they waded wet. Their wakes at death were the stuff of legends. And they would give anybody they met on the stream their best flies.( a trait lost on me. Hah)

Grannyknot
07-31-2015, 11:51 AM
Tellico fish probably took as much of a beating from mountain boys poaching as they did from shade etc IMO. Ironically the Tellico WMA special reg streams had some really nice sized fish of all species in them in 70s ; arguably a better chance for a large fly caught trout there in that decade than in Park streams by many accounts. I camped there a bunch in 60s and 70s and in retrospect it was not exactly a safe spot due to some of the locals attitudes

Some of those fish on the pin up board in the green cove market are insane. Most of those pictures look to be from the 70s/80s. Would love to have fished those streams then.

chacodude
08-05-2015, 09:22 AM
I heard Steve Moore, former GSMNP biologist, say there are catch reports of 18" brook trout in Little River circa 1910, just before massive logging. Just a few years ago, a NC biologist reported they shocked a 16" pure Southern strain brook trout in one stream.

I chased a big fish for about 2 months on Little River. It would rise to my fly from under a big rock but go back down. It seemed to hold in a certain pool so I kept going back to fish the area and would always try to lure that fish out. Only a few times did it come up, but each time flipped it's tail and didn't take the fly.

Finally on one of those summer nights where it gets dark about 9pm, I was out there late. It was coming up on dark in the twilight and I needed to get out while I could still see. After a couple of "one last try" casts, Mr. Big came up and took the bait! This was a big fish for the park. He took an orange body caddis fly tied by Walter Babb. When I pulled him up to my net I couldn't believe my eyes. My Wife was standing on a rock next to me and we both just sort of went into temporary shock. Here was a 16" Brook trout like we had never seen. It had dark eyes, a black head and mouth. It was kind of hook mouthed like a Brown. This thing was big and scary looking on first glance. I wasn't even certain it was a Trout until it was in the net. It only had about 4-6 red spots down each lower side and was darker in coloring with the tipped fins. I couldn't keep it in my net as it fought like a beast. Snapped my tippet flopping out of my net and swam away. The fish won in my book, but for a brief couple of minutes we made acquaintance with what I told my Wife to be a one in a lifetime trout for the Park.