Tourist anglers will be pleased to know that fishing is now allowed in all streams located within Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and much more of that potential catch will be native brook trout, the Knoxville News Sentinel announced.
The park, which straddles the border of North Carolina and Tennessee in the Southern Appalachians, was established in 1934, and is the most-visited in the U.S. But even before Great Smoky was an official government entity, the park’s native brook trout were in serious trouble. Fishermen were stocking the waterways with rainbow and brown trout, which were outcompeting the brook variety. Acid rain became an issue as well, altering the pH of stream water at high altitudes to inhospitable levels.
Beginning in 1986, the National Park Service, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the Friends of the Smokies, the Federation of Fly Fishers, volunteers and universities joined forces to restore the brook trout. Their efforts have resulted in a comeback of that particular variety of fish in 27.1 miles of 11 separate streams in the Smokies. “Our mission is restore native species for future generations, whether it’s elk or brook trout,” said Smokies fisheries biologist Matt Kulp. “The majority of the park’s fishing is rainbow trout and always will be, but it’s nice to know there are a few places you still can go and catch native brook trout in their native habitat.”
Once the park reopened 8.5 miles of Lynn Camp Prong, near Tremont, the announcement of total fishing accessibility could be made. It was in this tributary for the past six years that biologists have worked to remove nonnative rainbow trout and re-establish brook trout, using Environmental Protection Agency-approved fish toxin to remove rainbow trout, followed by a release of native brook trout.
Here are the requirements for aspiring Great Smoky anglers: A valid North Carolina or Tennessee license, with a 5-fish possession limit and a minimum size limit of 7 inches.