Restoring the brook trout of southern Appalachia.
The Tennessee Aquarium and Appalachian Chapter of Trout Unlimited have been hard at work restoring genetically distinct southern brook trout to streams of eastern Tennessee- their latest efforts added nearly 300 fish to Little Stony Creek in the Cherokee National Forest. Read more about the restoration effort here.
The Plight of Atlantic Salmon.
For the second year in a row, the number of adult Atlantic salmon returning home to spawn has fell below expectations. There are bright spots- streams in Quebec and Labrador seem to be doing alright, but the overall outlook is gloomy for recovery of these species. Want to learn more?
Quick clip on Yellowstone cutthroat restoration.
Check out the work Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is doing in league with state, federal, and private landowners to protect Yellowstone cutthroat trout in the inter-mountain west.
Question: I’ve seen these big fish at the bottom of the deepest pools, they’re refusing everything I throw, and I’m determined to catch one. What do I need to do?
Answer: It’s alright to leave them alone.
Fish are cold-blooded; they can’t regulate their own body temperature, they have to seek out environmental conditions which are best for their survival. Most fish species don’t grow throughout the entire summer. They have a range of temperatures which optimize growth. Above that, they’re eating just to stay alive- taking in enough energy to maintain homeostasis.
Those big fish in a deep pool are down there because it’s the coolest, most thermally stable, most groundwater-fed portion of the flow. They’re not eating because they’re not expending a lot of energy in still water- they don’t need to, they don’t want to, and dragging a streamer across their nose to elicit a territorial response isn’t doing them any good. Feeding them a zero-calorie Zebra Midge and then having them expend valuable energy on the fight, the photo, and the release isn’t doing them any good. To crib a line from John Gierach: sometimes, they need the sanctuary of deep water.
We talk a lot about values like C&R, barbless hooks, and leaving fish on redds alone. If a fish spawns in October but dies in June from a combination of high water temperatures and angling pressure, we’re undermining our own cause. Think about it. Pay attention to the temperature. Go on an overcast day. Make it a half-day morning trip, a night trip when temps have cooled off, switch to bass or carp or gar that can stand higher water temperatures. But know what you’re doing, and the effect it has on the fisheries you value.
It’s been fifty years since Congress’ great idea: federally designating the nation’s most exceptional and historic rivers and streams for the sake of posterity.
This one was among the first- the surrounding land bought up after farms and sawmills failed during the Depression, with massive public works projects to reforest the landscape and build roads, bridges, lakes, and picnic areas.
It’s dramatic, the difference between the privately-held top and bottom portions of the river and the publicly-owned middle section. There aren’t cows wading and shitting in that middle section. County highway departments aren’t shoveling gravel out at bridge crossings to rock small roads. All-terrain vehicles aren’t tearing up banks and gravel bars. Paranoid locals cry foul about Big Government and how resources are better managed at the local level…but for all the faults of the Feds, the difference between public and private is stark on a ten mile float.