Jump to content

Great Smokey Mountains National Park

27 replies to this topic

#1 Guest_truf_*

  • Guests

Posted 11 February 2008 - 01:05 AM

I'm going to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park near the end of March. Mostly camping and hiking, but I also hoped to get some collecting in. Does anyone have any advice for me as to locations and species? Also, if anyone is aware of any unusual applicable laws I need to worry about, please let me know. I know about certain Trout stream closings, and Stoneroller restrictions. Some streams are closed during parts of the year etc.... Sometimes the rules on the respective states DNR sites are a bit ambiguous or overwhelming, so if anyone has direct experience/knowledge I would greatly appreciate the help.
-Thom [-o<

#2 Guest_ashtonmj_*

  • Guests

Posted 11 February 2008 - 08:13 AM

The state regulations, TWRA, NCWRC, are not necessarily all encompassing of federal lands. I would suggest reading the GSMNP policy on take and harrasment of wildlife as well as their fishing regulations as there are regulations on the use of and collection of live bait. Actually all I did was google bait collection and great smoky mountain .... Link. A majority of stream miles, at least in Tennessee, are likely designated trout waters in and around the park.

#3 Guest_farmertodd_*

  • Guests

Posted 11 February 2008 - 09:06 AM

Hey Thom,

I wouldn't seine within the park. It's not worth it. Most everything is a trout stream, and even if it's not, there's the perception that it is, which with cell phones is a call to the warden, and right, wrong or indifferent, is an uncomfortable 15 minutes stream side. And in my opinion, trout streams are boring anyway :)

There are, however, some *awesome* sites right around the park. For example, Cove Creek (I think) right in Pigeon Forge, behind the Auto Zone and Kroger in a semi-shady looking city park (there are some trollers, and they're fishin' fer men lol), you can see almost all representative alpha and beta diversity species of that region. Saffron shiner, redline and swannona darters, all right there, easy to get to. There's a ton of acesses on the Little River over in Townsend and toward Maryville, although it's been flooded every time I've been over there. In there you'll pick up the rest of the beta diversity and some of the gammas.

And for everything else... There's 7 mil :)

So if you have a more specific itenary, I (and Matt esp) can point you to some very nice places.


#4 Guest_ashtonmj_*

  • Guests

Posted 11 February 2008 - 09:20 AM

Yeah plenty of places within a short jaunt outside of the park for you to fish game and non-game...There is a pretty clear statement of where trout water begins for the Little River. Below that there are awesome oppurtunities .... but come to think of it when you will be down there at the end of March is during put and take rainbow season...wanna talk about grey area...is it temporarily a trout stream...? Todd and I got some nasty looks a few years ago in the Duck when there were still a few guys trying to get the last few rainbows left with every combination of powerbait known to man. It will probably take a thorough understanding of the stocking schedules reference to a map. When there is a crowd of put and take fisherman I'd just avoid it unless you want to further contribute to TWRA's budget if you know what I'm saying.... :mrgreen:

#5 Guest_farmertodd_*

  • Guests

Posted 11 February 2008 - 12:29 PM

Yeah nasty looks while the we were just figuring out that the trout were eating whatever we released from our sample, which included a great many threatened coppercheek darters. I have never been so ready to just flat out break the law, and throw those ******* trout on the shore. That is one place put-n-take should NEVER occur.

That was the day where the gentleman told us we were seining wrong too, if I remember right lol. "Gotta push it up the stream, guys, you'll never catch anything thataway!"

What was the total? Something like 22 species, 13 of which were darters lol. Whatever, Jack.


#6 Guest_Newt_*

  • Guests

Posted 11 February 2008 - 12:44 PM

If you're going that far, go ahead and drive down to Polk County, TN (about 2 hrs southwest of the Smokies) and check out the Hiwassee and Conasauga rivers. They're clear, beautiful streams with great fish diversity; the Conasauga is the northernmost end of the Coosa (Mobile) system, so it has a lot of different species from all the Tennessee drainage streams in the area. The Hiwassee has regulated flow, so check the dam release schedules and make sure you're not there during the release.

Just my 2 cents.

#7 Guest_ashtonmj_*

  • Guests

Posted 11 February 2008 - 12:59 PM

That guy was hilarious....not only did he want us to push it upstream...but the discharge was already like 4 or 5 times baseflow. We were having a hard enough time tossing the seine and not getting pulled downstream. Yeah stocking trout in a highly urbanized area so they live 2 months where there are multiple T&E species is a bit of conflict...

The Hiwassee not only has regulated flow but you have to adjust that for how far downstream you are from the outlet pipe, not the dam. For example, when generation begins at 11 am, which is typical, about 10 miles downstream the water begins to rise around 3:00 P.M. Plus you're back in that trout water situation...everything upstream of US 411 is a quality trout zone and federal land. There are some pretty clear regs and details regarding the Hiwassee and trout zones; can't remeber off the top of my head what downstream of US 411 is considered, if anything currently.

#8 Guest_trygon_*

  • Guests

Posted 11 February 2008 - 02:00 PM

Don't forget about the Big South Fork of the Cumberland and the Obed, both are within a couple hours of the GSMNP. Keep an eye on the weather, March can be a very unstable month, one day it's 70+ and clear, the next freezing rain. Be prepared for anything.

#9 Guest_uniseine_*

  • Guests

Posted 11 February 2008 - 06:39 PM

Sunshine, all sunshine for this forum, even in the rain.

#10 Guest_ashtonmj_*

  • Guests

Posted 11 February 2008 - 08:03 PM

There are pretty cut and dry rules regarding the park he was asking about which I posted regarding fishing and the inability to collect bait. Every park tends to have their own management plan. For example, you do not need a license to fish inside Mammoth Caves National Park. This is not a thread to bash a park or the NPS or DOI.

#11 Guest_truf_*

  • Guests

Posted 13 February 2008 - 09:25 PM

Well, it appears by all accounts that I will not be collecting in the park. [-X Even traveling outside the park for collecting, and going back in to camp may be a problem, because the rangers may take issue with my having "bait" in the park. So, I will probably take part of the last day for collecting outside the park, and leave directly from there. As such, I'll need to collect as close to the park as possible; perhaps in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area. I'd probably be looking for any of the following: Redline Darters, Warpaint Shiners, Flame Chub, Rosyside Dace, Saffron Shiner, Tennessee Snubnose Darter, and Tennessee Dace. Anything new for me would be nice. If I could just see/photograph a male Tangerine Darter that would be great. Any more specific collection sight information would be welcomed.
Thank you everyone,
P.S. I just realized I misspelled Smoky Mountains. I think the "Smokey Mountains" are somewhere in Syria. Cripes, I might have driven to the wrong place!

#12 Guest_ashtonmj_*

  • Guests

Posted 13 February 2008 - 09:54 PM

You won't be near flame chubs if you are restricting yourself to within close proximity of the park and take into account they are state management of concern. Tennesse/mountain dace are also management of concern. Everywhere I collected roseyside dace was about 2+ hours west of the park. I'm not quite sure as to what the taxonomy of that species is currently either, I'm sure someone knows, but I know there was some talk of adding a Roseyside subspecies to the management concern list. Redlines, snubnose should be an easy catch for you in streams such as the Little River, Little Pigeon, others in that area...Warpaint shiners are commonly found throughout those same streams also along with telescope and tennessee shiner. I've only seen saffron once, just wasn't at the places I was going but Todd seems to know a decent spot with easy access that he mentioned earlier.

Safe thought about thinking of transporting bait back into the park. I think if you stay direclty in the Gaitlinburg area you will really have problems avoiding trout water and trout fisherman that time of year.

US 321 out of the park would give you access points where trout fishing shouldnt be an issue in the Little River if you drive west for 15-30 miles.

#13 Guest_farmertodd_*

  • Guests

Posted 13 February 2008 - 10:27 PM

Yeah you won't find flamers or rosyside right there. To see those, as Matt said, you'll want to go to the Barrens on the west side of the Cumberland Plateau. TN dace are going to be up in the park. Those dots you see in F of TN are really bad dots. I hate dots. That might mean there's a schlode of them. Might mean Rafinesque found ONE there in 1820. Blech.

Anyway... The stream in Pigeon Forge is actually Mill Creek. US 321 goes right over it, on the gazzer it's wrong, there's a road that goes back to the city recycling and dump. Old Wears Valley Road on the aerial, park where the arrow is. Here's the aerial:


The dotted lines... The one of the right is Mill Creek, it's very channelized through that park. The one of the left is Walden Creek, which you can get to by walking downstream from Mill Creek in the West Prong of the Little Pigeon.

There's parking inside the park too, on the east side of Mill Creek.

This is one of my favorite sites in the world and everyone should enjoy it. It's got that paradox of eutrophication thing going on, so there's just a schlode of fish. I seriously doubt it could be over collected, but that doesn't mean everyone should just cart off gallons of fish.

All that stuff to the far right of screen capture are the helicopter rides, outlet malls and bible shops. That's just a disgusting place. But right in the middle of that mess are redlines, snubs, swannanoa, newmanii greensides and whatever the French Broad fantails and banded darters are. Depending on levels, you'll get some saffron in Mill Creek, but I would advise hitting the pools at the mouth of Walden Creek where you'll find both them and warpaints. If levels are high, you'll definately get saffrons by the bulk in Mill Creek.

I would transport and quarantine the warpaints separately, if you want to bring them home, and if you don't want to end up knowing what I call the "Warpaint Pain".

Happy Fishin'!


#14 Guest_Casper Cox_*

Guest_Casper Cox_*
  • Guests

Posted 15 February 2008 - 02:21 PM

Your coming to a wonderful region.
You cannot do anything is the smoky mountains except observe basically. I can not even pick a mushroom to eat.
within the park borders there are mostly cold water higher altitude streams that are gonna lack diversity.
Lots of wonderful places outside the park tho. check out the Little River... many nifty critters to see. In the Wownsend area the highway runs along it and offers many access points. Chris petted tangerines there, we watched a blotchside loggie tumbling stones, old abandoned bridge crossing behind a store.
snorkeling is the way. get a wetsuit and gear up. once you quit shivering you will be awestruck. Late March is chilly but doable and you will be rewarded w/ primo colors.

Yeah you could come more south and hit the Tellico, Hiwassee and Conasauga but the Little River is right there. Get a TNgazetter.
Oh yea, check out Greenbriar on the Little Pigeon for snorkeling. hellbenders, greenfins, swannoa, and warpaints.
you should enjoy that site. I've been back 3 times. its in the park though.

Be aware, some game wardens know the TN law. One is not allowed to keep tn natives so you better play it lightly. Just collecting bait or just looking. Better have a license nonetheless unless you are ONLY snorkeling. Flames, and Tennessee dace are listed, so are tangerines. You gotta see tangerines thoough; jump in w/ a mask and pull that wetsuit tight.

Here is a bad pic of a beautiful greenfin darter. I don't think they would do well in anything but a chilled aquaria. They live in cold high altitude waters. Ranger Bob and i photoed this one in greenbriar.

your a month away... be sure and post your experience.

Attached Images

  • greenfin.jpg

#15 Guest_ashtonmj_*

  • Guests

Posted 15 February 2008 - 02:55 PM

Honestly, the line between bait (because bait specise are not definate) and native wildlife (which inlcude fish) is so rediculously vauge and contradictory in Tennessee annotated code, which is an insane problem. It took me hours to actually find the TN annotated code that deals with possession of native wildlife, and within the code itself there were some really broad definitions and loose bounds. Plus you have the Fishes of TN statement about natives in aquaria, the Region 4 office with management of concern species on display, everything is really a ball of contradiction.

#16 Guest_farmertodd_*

  • Guests

Posted 15 February 2008 - 04:49 PM

I just don't know how well founded this idea is Casper, besides what people have told you. Yes, it's in the wildlife code (as Matt pointed out he had to dig through), but that is not what enforcement is enforcing. That's what the legislature put together (which didn't they just make it legal to eat road kill? ;) ).

TWRA is enforcing the fishing regulations. And that's what you're doing. Collecting bait on a fishing liscence.

2007 Tennessee Fishing Regulations

PG 25
A legal minnow trap shall not have a mouth opening or openings that exceeds 1-1/2 inches in diameter. A minnow seine is a net having mesh size no greater than three-eights inch on the square and no longer than 10 feet.

And then a whole bunch of stuff about Cannon, Lincoln, Macon, Moore, Smith, Sumner and Trousdale counties, along with the stoneroller clause for Carter, Unicoi, Washington, Johnson, Morgan and Sullivan Counties (which does anyone know the history of this?)

PG 26
It is illegal to take any fish or turtle that is endangerd, threatened or listed as in need of management.

There is no specification on the genera of what makes a "bait fish" aside from contrasting that with "sport fish", which are any species that have a legal definition in the fishing regulations (size, creel limit, etc).

If you're following this, I don't know how anyone has a leg to stand on to give you a ticket that's going to stick.

If they decide to make a law like Illinois that defines "Bait as minnows and round bodied suckers", then fine. No more darters from TN. But until then, you are as within the law as possible.

Again, we got into trouble in Kentucky because 1) We had big nets that we were blockade seining (it LOOKED like we were poaching!) and 2) we made let people who were in the know make the assumption that we would be okay on the TVA Biologists Permit who was finishing the survey on the Big South Fork. If we'd be using regular sized seines, and we'd all offered fishing liscences, that woulda been a whole different 2 hours my friend. :)

Btw, I finally got the pictures back from our NC run in ;) And that was 1) an oversight on our part for being in a state park, which required an additional permit and 2) we TOLD them we were going to be there! lol

No more permits and oversized seines for me man, unless I have agency people there with me. It ain't worth the hassle.


#17 Guest_Newt_*

  • Guests

Posted 15 February 2008 - 04:55 PM

And then a whole bunch of stuff about Cannon, Lincoln, Macon, Moore, Smith, Sumner and Trousdale counties, along with the stoneroller clause for Carter, Unicoi, Washington, Johnson, Morgan and Sullivan Counties (which does anyone know the history of this?)


I don't know the history of the legislation, but Stonerollers are considered game/food fish in those highland counties, so that probably has something to do with it.

I just sent an e-mail to one of the TWRA non-game guys from Region IV to get clarification on the status of collecting native non-game fish in TN for the purpose of keeping them in aquaria. I'll let you know what he says!

Like Todd says, though, this probably won't effect you so long as you're using legal bait collection techniques.

#18 Guest_farmertodd_*

  • Guests

Posted 15 February 2008 - 05:13 PM

Thanks for checking into it and the explaination on the stonerollers.

I think, though, that saying "to keep in aquaria" is where this all runs amok and gets into opinions.

It doesn't matter what you're going to do with it. There's no definition about that.

If there's no regulation prohibiting keeping baitfish at your house, then there's nothing illegal.

Missouri has a regulation where you can't take bait collected out of their state. That's one thing.

A state might also make definition that removing bait from any body of water, like Wisconsin, is another.

Or bringing in bait from another state, again Wisconsin.

Most states, including TN, have regs that you're not allowed to release bait into another body of water from where it's collected. The only thing I worry about is whether possession can be determined intent to release.

But other than this... What can anyone say or do?

Here's how every other situation went down for me until I tried to play the permit game:

"What y'all doin'?"
"Collecting bait fish. Would you like to see our fishing liscences?"
"Nah, that's alright. What you collectin' for? School or somethin'?" (they see the buckets and clipboards)

and etc.

In fact when we told the Regional Chief of District 2 in Ohio that we were doing my masters project using fishing liscences instead of the hassle of permits (he was out looking for deer poachers and saw these two guys seining in a ditch), he thought it was great. The story was over, you get into Guys BS'in about game and fish then.


#19 Guest_Newt_*

  • Guests

Posted 15 February 2008 - 05:22 PM

Yeah, it's all a mess. I was stopped by a TWRA officer while dipnetting mosquitofish out of a swampy ditch to feed to some turtles we were keeping at the lab. I showed him my fishing license, since I was using legal baitfish collecting methods, and he insisted on seeing my scientific collection permit (for what reason, I don't know). He seemed satisfied with that, even though no fish were listed on the permit.

That's the trouble with these regulations- they're so ambiguous that even the enforcers don't clearly understand them, and so each officer uses his own, totally arbitrary, discretion. It would be so much easier if they would just make a clear-cut ruling of some kind, but this is state government we're talking about, so that'll never happen.

#20 Guest_farmertodd_*

  • Guests

Posted 15 February 2008 - 05:24 PM

Agreed. :)

Reply to this topic


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users