Return of the Native Brook Trout



This article details the effort to restore native brook trout to one of the streams in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

People have long managed waterways for certain species. Even the original introduction of the non-native brown and rainbow trout was a kind of management: before the Park existed, people released the fish into Smokies’ streams so anglers would have more fish to catch. They didn’t realize that the introduced fish would outcompete—take over habitat and food sources from—the native brook trout. Fewer native fish survived to breed, and those that did existed in increasingly isolated populations in marginal habitats, often at high elevations where pH was declining most rapidly.

…fisheries biologists waded through miles of deep pools and hidden pockets to find brook trout and other native fish such as the blacknose dace that they wanted to save in Lynn Camp Prong and its tributaries. They electroshocked the native fish—stunned them with a low amplitude current—and gathered them all in holding tanks, which they then transported to a “foster” stream in the same watershed that had been treated four years earlier for this purpose. There the brook trout would wait through the winter until they could be released once again to Lynn Camp Prong.

The stream was then treated  with Antimycin “the treatments were a new way for the Smokies to remove unwanted species—in this case, rainbow trout—from the water and restore the habitat for the once-abundant native brook trout.” 

 Read more here…


Four years later this Update On Lynn Camp Prong Brook Trout Restoration details some of the frustrations including

a few exceptionally large rainbow trout were found in Lynn Camp Prong. Unfortunately these fish had the rubbed off fins typically found on hatchery fish. There was some reliable information that someone had taken some fish in coolers filled with water up the stream on horseback. Unfortunately those fish had spawned successfully and young rainbows were back in the stream among the recently reintroduced native brookies.





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