Photo of the Month: Backcountry Brook Trout

Photo of the Month: Backcountry Brook Trout

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Stream Ethics

Much thanks to those that noticed and voted in our poll on whether or not people should be fishing in the Smokies. The end results where interesting but probably approximately what I would have expected. The final tally had 60% of voters saying that people shouldn't be fishing, 15% said it was fine to go fishing, and 25% said it depended on the water temperatures.

Honestly, I believe any of these answers is fine because it is a personal decision. Everyone that fishes should develop some type of ethic because the thought process is important. Too me, it all revolves around respecting your quarry.

Personally, it bothers me to fish under these conditions but it also occurs to me that there are places around the country where the streams cease to flow part of the year with the remaining fish stuck in isolated pools. These fish do just fine and actually thrive, having adapted over the years to the inconsistencies of nature. A prime example would be some of the streams in the desert southwest.

Regardless of whether we fish during the low water or not, it will be extremely interesting to see how the fish populations are doing once the flows improve. Hopefully it won't be too long!!!


  1. Anonymous9:06 PM

    I don't know if you saw my post about this past weekend in the park over at LRO. The only reason I was up there was to look at (and, as it turns out, buy) an acre of land in the Cosby area. I also ended up fishing Cosby Creek in the park, but only because I had been watching the radar the day before, and I knew that area got a really good soaking - over an inch. The stream was in pretty good shape, and I ended up catching over 20. The interesting thing was, I picked up a few rainbows in areas where previously I had only caught brookies, which tells me the lower stretches of the stream were getting warm before the rains.

    The next day, I fished Straight Fork on the N.C. side, and it was fine - 63 degrees and flowing well; that area had received some recent rains, too. In fact, it was amazing to watch, as I drove over the mountains - on the N.C. side, I could see rain forming and hitting the sides of the mountains. When I got over to the Tennessee side, the clouds thinned out. I took a look at Walker Camp along the road, and it was in really sad shape, flow-wise. The water was barely moving. I ended up going through Metcalf Bottoms on my way out of the park, and needless to say, it was looking pretty pathetic.

    So, I guess it depends on where you go...but regardless of the shape of a particular stream, the mountains need rain, and cooler nights. I took the temp at the West Prong of the Little Pigeon, and it was 69.5...a month ago, it was around 63. I have to think, sooner or later, the pattern will change.

  2. ijsouth, I'm glad that some of the streams are starting to come back up a little. I haven't fished Cosby yet but probably will sometime in the next year or two. Its interesting the rainbows are higher up although as you said, they were probably searching for cool water. Hopefully the rain and better flows in some watersheds will be the start of a trend. Todays rain should help as well. I'm looking forward to fall on Little River if we can just get a little rain...

  3. Anonymous7:56 PM

    Cosby is a wonderful little stream, and so easy to get to; it does amaze me that more people don't fish it. I guess the fact that it is tucked in the Northeast corner of the park, and that it is completely enveloped by the canopy, keeps people away. Also, you aren't likely to get any monsters there - no browns, and the bows and brookies are mostly on the small size. However, I was pleasantly surprised last weekend - I didn't get my usual share of dinks - most were right around the 6-7 inch mark. I thought it was funny how the bows fought - they fought like the brookies, heading for the deepest water around and shaking their heads like jumps.

    It really is a prime Springtime stream, although I bet it's pretty good in the Fall, too. Now that I own a chunk of land less than a mile from the park, I'm sure I'll be fishing it a lot.