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BROOK TROUT FISHERY PROJECT
(For Immediate Release From The NPS 5/29/2002)


Brook Trout

     Anglers on selected streams within Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be able to fish for and keep brook trout for the first time in over 25 years as part of a 3-year experimental project set to begin at noon on July 1, 2002. Park managers at the Smokies have identified eight streams – four each in Tennessee and North Carolina - where anglers will be allowed to fish for brookies for the first time since 1975.

     Brook trout are the only trout species native to the Smokies and were historically found in nearly every watershed from their high-elevation headwaters down to about the 2,000-foot elevation. However, in the decades just prior to the Park’s creation in 1934, the brook, or "speckled" trout, was eliminated from much of its range by the siltation and other effects of the heavy-handed logging practices of that period.

     To provide for a continued sport fishery, individuals, logging companies, and later, the Park, stocked the streams with non-native rainbow trout which originated in the Sierras. Early Park managers hoped that as the forest recovered, brook trout would naturally spread back down from their high-elevation refuge streams, but this did not occur because the non-natives grew faster and out-competed the brookies.

     By the mid-1970’s biologists were concerned about losing the brook trout altogether and imposed a ban on fishing for them under the assumption that angling pressure was contributing to their decline. After decades of annual fish surveys in streams throughout the Smokies, Park biologists have come to doubt that barring angling has had any benefit in protecting fish populations. The surveys have shown that the density and size of fish in streams where fishing is permitted, versus those where it is prohibited, are virtually identical.

     Fisheries Biologist Steve Moore said, "The Park has two central goals in managing its fishery: to protect and restore native species and to provide for an enjoyable angling experience for visitors. This 3-year experimental program will allow us to find out if we can do both."

     The experiment will allow angling in eight streams that are currently closed to fishing, while continuing to prohibit fishing in eight adjacent, and very similar, streams. Biologists will sample fish populations through electro-fishing, and at the end of the experiment, will compare the fish populations in the fished versus un-fished streams. If it can be shown that the populations are statistically about the same, Park managers will decide which other brook trout streams may be opened to fishing.

     At 12:00 noon on July 1, only the following streams will reopen to fishing for all the species that anglers are currently allowed to take as well as for brook trout:

     In North Carolina: Beech Flats Creek above Kanati Branch confluence, all of Bunches Creek within the Park, Hazel Creek upstream of Proctor Creek, and Lost Bottom Creek upstream of Palmer Creek.

     In Tennessee: Cosby Creek above Rock Creek confluence, all of Indian Camp Creek inside the Park, Walker Prong upstream of Alum Cave, and Fish Camp Prong upstream of Goshen Prong.

     Park managers emphasized that all other streams currently closed to fishing remain closed, and that taking brook trout anywhere in the Park except for those eight experimental streams remains strictly prohibited. Signs are being posted at the appropriate locations to help anglers identify which streams are being reopened under this experiment. All other Park fishing regulations, including the 7" minimum size limit on trout, remain in effect.

 
John 11:29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.
 
 

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