View Full Version : 10 to 15% ?........
Well, I'm surprised no one's mention it yet, but that article on the front page of Sundays AJC referenced that 10 to 15% of the brown trout in the river are wild fish. That number seems low to me. In the 3 seasons I've been fishing the section I live along (just north of settles)I cannot believe the increase in the number of browns. Friday my partner and I landed about 20 in 3 hours. Mostly on midges, and only three were rainbows. The rest all very healthy 12 inch and better browns. Several jumped, one five times! I have never seen browns jump the way they do down there. Hopefully this will continue...next year they will average 15 inches, the next year... 18"? I believe there was some discussion about changes in river management if the natural repoduction was documented. I need a refresher on that subject.
04-09-01, 04:24 PM
Where did AJC get that number from? DNR?
In my favorite stretches of the river, I rarely catch a stocked fish anymore. The upper Chattahoochee river appears to be loaded with wild browns. It reminds me a lot of a tailwater in Virginia, the Smith River, that some consider to be the best wild brown trout water in the Appalachian states. On that river, I hear that most fish in the Smith average 9 - 12 inches with few any larger. The Chattahoochee fishery for wild browns seems like it might be the better fishery right now....and almost no one is talking about it. I get the feeling that many fisherman, and perhaps even the DNR, have no idea just how many wild trout the river is producing....and how great of an asset that really is. You can create a put-and-take trout fishery nearly anywhere - that wintertime trout pond in north Florida being a prime example - but a self-sustaining population of rather large, free-rising fish is truly a gift.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to enjoy this fishery once the trout season begins because of the massive crowds of fisherman who are attracted by the heavy state stockings (which, by the state's own admission, are excessive and result in an overpopulation of browns in the river given catch rates and trends towards catch-and-release....a twist of logic I can't begin to understand.) I don't begrudge a fisherman his limit of hatchery fish, but do we really need to stuff what appears to be the most productive wild trout water in the state with hatchery products? Should we continue to ignore a world class trout fishery that seems to have developed out of benign neglect? I think we have a resource here that deserves the benefit of a proper evaluation. After reading articles like the one in the AJC, I get the feeling that parts of the river are poorly understood by the DNR. If that is the case, then perhaps our current regulations are inappropriate and can be improved upon. Unfortunately, I don't know if that is a big priority for the DNR.
I don't want this to sound like a complete slagging of the agency....I think that the DH program on the lower river was a stroke of genius and an appropriate reaction to changing environmental conditions, and I recognize the hard work and dedication of individual employees (I believe Lisa Klein was the person who first raised the issue of natural reproduction). I am just frustrated that they don't seem to recognize the enormous potential in the upper river.
I am interested in hearing other opinions on this subject....please let me know if I'm completely off base here.
04-10-01, 12:33 AM
I think your "on-base", but I don't know if that helps or hurts. http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/wink.gif
I remember hearing a biologist friend say at a Spring Fling that if browns were reproducing as suspected, that management techniques and regulations might be altered. "Might" is a pretty big sea, though.
I say, put a slot limit on an already "difficult access" section and see what happens in five years. Glory days again ?
wishing I'd fished it a decade ago.............from what I hear.....
04-10-01, 01:54 PM
Hi all, thought I'd chime in on this thread since it pertains to me and my work.
First, the 10-15% number is highly accurate. We have done extensive electrofishing samples for the last three years over this entire 30 mile section and using a extrapolation technique (based on # of BNT fingerlings per river mile) have come up with numbers each year ranging from 10 to 15%. Keep in mind that there are a large number of holdover hatchery brown trout (a product of C&R, if you throw'em back, they are still there!) that color up after being in the river for awhile, and are therefore hard to tell apart from the wild fish. There are also certain sections of the river that have better habitat for spawning browns, therefore it appears that most of the browns in that area are wild. In that case, njfish and michaeltak, you would be right.
Next, average growth rates in this river are low, so a 12" fish this year won't necessarily make it to 15" next year or 18" the year after that. Why are they low? Because there simply isn't a large enough supply of forage fish to provide all the browns with the food they need. We may see a change in this as blueback herring move into the river from Lake Lanier.
Next, the falacy that this tailwater could provide a self-sustaining population of trout if left alone with the proper regulations. This is incorrect. The Lanier TW receives a tremendous amount of pressure from anglers (it's near a large metro area) and the natural reproduction that occurs here is just not sufficient to keep the brown trout population at the number it needs to be. Rainbow trout do not reproduce in this tailwater, so if stockings ceased, there would be no more rainbow trout. We likely won't be able to increase this 10-15% rate due to fluctuating water flows and sedimentation, which limit juvenile survival during critical periods.
Lastly, the "slot limit debate". I have fielded this question time and time again. There are two extremely important criteria that must be followed when deciding whether or not to put this regulation on a fishery. The first and foremost necessity a fishery needs if a slot limit were to be instilled on it are good growth rates. The Chattahoochee River lacks this important criteria. The second necessity is good enforcement of special regulations sections. We cannont properly enforce "slot limit sections" in multiple areas throughout the Hooch. The virtual same thing can be had in the remote, privately owned sections of the Hooch with limited angler access. There are already big fish there, one only has to be there to catch them.
There are reasons behind the regulations.
These reasons are based on extensive study of growth, mortality and reproductive rates. DNR has put a tremendous amount of time, effort and money into studying the fishery in the Chattahoochee below Buford Dam. We try to keep open channels of communication here about what we are doing and the results we find. If you have any questions, please feel free to email or call me at 770-918-6418.
I agree with njfish. The area from Ga20 to McGinnis Ferry because of its inaccessability, has more holdover Browns and natural reproduction than any other area of the Hooch. Also, the abundance of blowdowns and slack water make the Chattahoochee a "Brown Trout River." The habitat does not lend itself to Rainbows, which is a more shoal oriented fish. If the river was left alone and not stocked, the Rainbows would quickly disappear.
Also, I am encouraged by the improvement in the size of the fish in the Settles Bridge area this year. This past winter FWF and I caught many over 16" and some in the 18"-22"
range which is a major change. Three years ago it was not unusual to come out of this area with 60 to 80 small fish, but when the DNR stopped stocking at Settles, the numbers went down (no more Rainbows) and the quality went up (bigger Browns) which I like a lot.
One comment about wild fish. It is very difficult to tell a holdover stocker from a wild fish. When stockers change to a natural diet, they "color up" from the pigments that are not available in the trout chow at the hatchery. Also, the pectoral fins regenerate.
Certainly there is natural reproduction, but IMHO most of the beautiful Browns caught upriver are holdover stockers.
I think the DNR has a superb understanding of the river, and its capabilities, and they are managing it as well as thier resources and the environment will let them. Most people that fish the river are not flyfishermen, and not into catch and release.
World Class fishery? Maybe with a quota system, strict catch and release policy, and trout feeders.
Lisa, you beat me to the punch. I hope the bluebacks can establish themselves in the river soon. They are changing Georgia fishing everywhere they go.
04-10-01, 02:34 PM
Kudos, bbell. Alas, you have your answer.
I'm not sure I follow the thought process of stocking the heck out of the river that lacks sufficient forage and then hoping anglers harvest almost all the stockers because the river won't support them, but I'm not a fisheries biologist, either.
I would like to extend an open invitation to anyone who doubts the presence of an incredible, wild trout fishery in the upper river to come up with me. I wouldn't have believed it myself if I hadn't experienced it. I think that the main reason that anglers aren't aware of the numbers of these fish is that they aren't really susceptible to the techniques that most people use...i.e. streamers, large nymphs, powerbait, Yo-Zuris, or whatever.
The wild browns are extremely focused on the enormous population of midges in the frigid water and seem to lock on them to the exclusion of nearly anything else. I have seen anglers drift wriggling nightcrawlers right by these fish with no luck while the fish continue to eat size 26 midge pupa and adults. This isn't new news...Hooker recognized this tendency in his guide to fishing the river.
This is a peculiar characteristic of trout...the tendency to feed selectively on the most abundant food item in the flow.
It is the only reason that those fish survive in a section of the river that gets absolutely pounded all season long. And there are so many of them that it is really unreal. When the midges hatch (the hatches seem to last for about two hours and the flies are incredibly prolific), the river is covered with rising fish. This happens every day. It occurs throughout the winter. I believe it is about as good as
any hatch, anywhere, in terms of the consistency, intensity, and duration of feeding. An incredible resource and yes, a world class fishery. It just depends on your definition. It definitely isn't world-class to someone fishing a 6 inch fire tiger Rapala and wondering why the hell all those fish won't bite.
Once again, we have ignited the wild vs. holdover debate. Although I personally think you have to be extremely insensitive to detail to fail to notice the difference between a truly wild fish and a nicely colored holdover with regrown fins, let's forget about the distinction because it is unimportant to the point. Whether wild or holdover, what we have is a distinct population of fish that are brightly colored, sharp-finned, and wary. They have a tendency to jump when hooked (the only other river I have fished where they jump so frequently is the Madison) and they fight tremendously well. They rise for two hours a day in the dead of winter. They are extremely numerous but concentrated in certain parts of the river. Wild or holdover, I think these fish provide a very
high quality experience for the fly fisherman. I recognize that fly fishing is only one of the methods employed on the river, and quite possibly in the minority, but I think that a small area where these wild or holdover fish are numerous could be set aside with special regulations....is that really too outlandish to even consider?
One question I have....does the 10-15% figure apply to the entire river? It seems that the population of wild fish decreases as you go downstream, probably due to siltation and lack of spawning sites. Does the 15% number incorporate a much higher number in the uppermost stretch and a much lower number in the lower tailwater? Say...30% around Highway 20, 10% around Jones Bridge, and negligible reproduction around Island Ford or in the DH? This gets to my key point....the river is so large and offers so many different faces that blanket statements about the fishery are useless. Given that situation, it seems that the potential exists for improved regulations.
Don't want to pass laws because they are difficult to enforce? Tell that to the DEA!
Just a little more curiosity and desire to educate myself. What is the current distribution (percentage) of rainbows to browns stocked? Lisa, I am not a fisheries biologist (but have a Bio. degree) but I am interested if you could give a little more detail on the extrapolation model. For example, does it assume that only resident wild fish will produce fingerlings? I assume it does something like look at the ratio of adult to juvenile fish, taking fingerling mortality into account, etc. etc. Again just interested as a scientist more than anything.
Also, would a DNA survey be more credible? (I know that would be too expensive0. Thank you for the insight.
Very eloquent argument bbell. Perhaps we should just leave it as there are "wild" browns and "stream bred" browns in the river. Oh yeah, make sure you take them to your stretch, not mine!
Or maybe I'm just full of it.
I started thinking about this stuff last night and it hit me that this wild fishery developed pretty much by accident and is thriving in the middle of some of the most hellacious pressure you can imagine. Sometimes nature has a mind of its own, regulations aside.
04-11-01, 04:29 PM
and on it goes......
The 10-15% is an average for the entire 30 mile stretch of river. To do the amount of sampling I would need to do to determine the breakdown of juveniles per river mile would be astronomically expensive and cannot be justified. There are indeed river miles that provide much better habitat than other river miles, and therefore have much higher recruitment rates for brown trout (the Bowman's Isl. and Jones Bridge areas are a couple of them), but we do see reproduction spread throughout the river, all the way to Island Ford. In fact we collected a fair number of fry at the Island Ford area this last February. Determining number of fingerlings per river mile is quite simple. I think we are all assuming that things are a little more complicated than they really are. We don't stock fingerlings, so it is assumed that all fingerlings collected are naturally reproduced. ALL brown trout are capable of reproducing. How would they have started reproducing in the first place, since they were all stocked at one time or another? Simple math tells us how many we can expect per river mile.
All of the brown trout in the Hooch are one strain, the Walhalla strain, therefore DNA tests will not prove anything. There is no definitive way of telling a stream bred fish from a hatchery holdover short of cutting similar sized fish open and looking at their flesh color (not including EXTREMELY expensive marking techniques). I believe this point has been discussed ad nauseum in previous threads.
The brown/rainbow stock ratio is currently 15%/85%. The abnormally high ratio you catch (and we see in our electrofishing samples) is due to a combination of natural reproduction, and C&R. We did a study with removable tags in 1998, and 73% of the tags that were returned, were from browns that were released. We did one on rainbows this last year and the ratio was reversed, 73% of the fish were kept.
I understand many of you would like a special C&R section in the river, whether for the sport of fly fishing or in the name of preserving the wild browns, but we simply cannot put a special regulation on a river where it doesn't fit.
First of all, the only way a C&R regulation could possibly be implemented was if brown trout were caught many times each, and had good growth potential; however, this isn't the case for the brown trout in THIS river. On the other hand, this regulation fits nicely out West. I'll use the example of the Yellowstone River in the Yellowstone National Park where cutthroat trout were each caught an average of nearly ten times in a season (Schill et al. 1986). Here a C&R regulation makes a lot of sense, on this section of the Chattahoochee, it simply doesn't.
Just enjoy the little guys for what they are, a pleasant surprise addition to a great urban trout fishery. They are there for our fishing pleasure and as long as flow regimes remain were they are, we can probably expect that the brown trout will continue to reproduce.
If you all would like to learn more about current accepted standards for implementing special regulations on a fishery and just general fisheries management, please read Inland Fisheries Management in North America by Christopher C. Kohler and Wayne A Hubert, editors. Published by the American Fisheries Society. Here is the link to the AFS web page if you wish to purchase it http://www.fisheries.org/cgi-bin/shop.pl/page=x550.27.htm/SID=13627137
As always, I am here for questions. I hope I've cleared up some misconceptions.
04-11-01, 05:38 PM
<<<most of the beautiful Browns caught upriver are holdover stockers.
>>> 6 inch stockers ?
OK,OK, but enough of that side of it....
I think the thing that stands out the most to me are the phrases " doesn't fit ", and " the number it needs to be".
Sorry ya'll, but it seems that a natural river is not on the agenda. No one thinks that the river could have enough fish for recreational anglers WITH the CURRENT regulations and enforcement levels........and I think that is the point.
However, we ffermen must remeber that although we donate time, money and effort( blood sweat and tears, too I suppose) to the river and it's trout, it is the baitfishermen and poachers that have all the say. I doubt that DNR could find a room big enough to hold all the angry poachers, should any other limits be imposed. After all, if the limit was only 4 browns, they could only take 20..not the usual 50 that they might take now. Then again, the browns do like the midges.....and to be quite honest, it's once again seeming like a bit of an insult to say that experienced trouters can't id a wild fish.
I know wild.....maybe not %100 of the time....I'm sure there are exceptions and it would be nice to be albe to say what we really think and not have anyone think your trying to offend them.....but those you know what's aren't you know what and I know it and you know it and bbell knows it and by golly-pete Ghost knows it ..........oh......let me go do something else.........
who might as well "not fit" either.
As always, appreciate your insight (and patience with us). I wasn't sure about the C&R discussion though. I think you are saying primarily because we cannot expect good growth rates for the browns, C&R is not worth it? Also, would have thought C&R on Yellowstone cutthroats was primarily due to heavy angling pressure and that fishes reputation of "hitting anything" which could quickly lead to a fished out stream.
OK, 2 other quick thought s before I leave the office for the day.
1- Would we agree that the artificials only section of the river essentially leads to C&R?
2- Would DNR approve of a private tagging program? I used to tag stripers, blues and weakfish up in Jersey with tags available from the American Littoral Society. I would be more than willing to spaghetti tag the browns in my home stretch, record the number of times caught, and measure them at that point. Hell, I'll even carry a certified scale if we need weights also. I know I have recaught some fish in my home stretch.
It sounds as if we have a de facto catch and release policy on browns already, given the statistics you mentioned from your tagging survey.
Let me make an important distinction. I am not arguing that C&R or any other regulations will improve the size or quantity of fish in the river. I think I made it fairly clear above that the fish population seems to be doing incredibly well under the current regs. I just think that it may improve the quality of the fishing experience in that location. Why? Because it would change the motivation of anglers who chose to visit that stretch of water.
I fished the river very frequently through the winter this year and watched the change in fishing pressure and intensity over that period of time. I noticed a massive increase in pressure and a resulting increase in disruptive behavior (fishermen casting over my line after I hook a fish, crowding other anglers out of holes, and heading back to the truck with a second limit of fish) immediately after the first stockings took place. I might add that both fly fishers and spinfisherman were guilty....I'm not trying to claim superiority of technique here. I just want to point out that the stocking truck creates a sort of gold rush mentality where it is OK to interfere with other users' enjoyment, and that just isn't right. The only way to change this behavior is to change motivation, and that's where regulations come into play.
More restrictive regulations would certainly change the motivations of the fishermen on a given stretch of river. A restricted catch limit, artificial-only zone, or some combination of the two, would attract a different angler....someone who is not dead set on catching his limit, no matter the effects on those around him. I think I and many others would enjoy fishing in that sort of company as opposed to the truck-chasing, borderline unethical crowd, who control the public access portions of the river throughout the traditional trout season.
If the fear is that restricted catch zones will leave the river overpopulated with fish...there is a pretty simple answer. Stock less fish in those sections of the river. Ideally, the sections would have decent enough natural reproduction to offset the lower stock rates. The net result would be something approaching a natural trout stream.
Here is a formula....correct me if I'm wrong.
Total trout population = streambred fish + stocked fish - fish kept or inadvertently killed by angling - natural mortality.
If you reduce the number of fish killed, isn't it relatively easy to adjust the number of fish stocked so that the total population is in balance? Does anyone else see the circular logic in the arguments against reduced catch zones? It seems the only way you can make that argument is if you assume that stocking rates remain constant. Is there an agenda behind stocking?
I think sometimes we focus too much on numbers, and lose track of less quantifiable matters like the quality of the angling experience.
Forgive me if I come off as a jerk. I am the first to admit that I am not trained as a biologist. I'm just asking some questions that keep popping into my head. The book you recommended is on the way....by the way, that's pretty pricy.
04-11-01, 08:18 PM
Well I don't know if I'm one who what knows or doesn't know or offends or is offended, but I am always intriqued with these threads about regulating the Chattahoochee as a natural world class fishery. I always ask my self what does it mean to be world class. For example, I think overstocking as a way to help the fishery has helped it as a "catchery", but in fact, hurt it as a fishing experience. And from a selfish point of view this is contributing to the decline of the fishing experience in the mountains as more and more people want the near solitude of the old Hooch experience and come north on the new fourlanes, another rant for another day. That being said ...
In my opinion, when the dam was built the Chattahoochee ceased being natural. And I'm Ok with that (not into wholesale dam removal) because of the other benefits, including, because of engineering, access to a very good, put & take, cold water fishery. It has always seemed to me that the Chattahoochee has been an over achiever. It provides a large number of fishing experiences for perhaps a too large fishing population with diverse expectations - catching a lot of fish and releasing them, catching a limit of stocker for the table, catching a few, but big ....
I think that the DNR has done a great job of managing, with reasonable regs, a fishery that does not overly conflict with people being able to make a personal choice of how they want to fish (atificials only or bait) -and we do know that there are those amongest us who are for all personal freedoms. BTW, reasonable means no room for poachers, the regs are for all - poachers choices are illegal and they should lose their "freedom" of a privledge to fish.
I am also glad that it is hard to out engineer or over regulate mother nature and that a reproducing population of browns is in certain stretches of the river because these stretches are very close - but not perfect - to natural brown habitat. They also seem to be self-regulating at no cost to the State because they are difficult to access and the browns are selective to midges. My interpretation of bbell's first post was that one issue was the overstocking that attracted the flotilla.
It seems to me the browns will be a natural fishery without any additional regulations and could grow to be some "class" of fishery. Just not sure it will ever be world class because the food sources are not world class and because the base habitat, even for browns, continues to be threatened.
In my opinion, you can cut down on the crowds by helping enforce current fishing regs when possible (ie, turn in poachers), not overstocking the stretches with known reproducing populations (nothing like lower catch rates to cut down the flotilla). My cynical side thinks that these things only help - crowds are a way of life in Atlanta - can't even go to a movie without standing in line.
Having watched the river for many years, I am more active now in calling for stricter enforcement of watershed protection. every time I go to the river and sink deeper in the silt or measure water temp I am both saddened and mad. A reasonable habitat is critical for either the holdovers to grow old, if that is your side of the arguement or those little fingerlings, if that is your side, to grow even to the 13/14 inch size.
And while I'm at it, as much as I enjoy the DH, the other thread about water temps has made me wonder if we are spending too much money on the lower sections to maintain it as a put & take, at the expense of managing the upper section. It flows through what seems to be the world's largest, and fastest growing, heat sink and may not have any more natural cooling capabilities to take it through a warm spell like the current one. We will be lucky to get to May 15. So, why not really return this section to a wild and native fishery by re-introducing shoalies. To be honest, I would much prefer to catch a shoalie than a stocker that is half dead and just rolls over.
Sorry, this is probably an old topic.
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04-11-01, 09:22 PM
Two words: FISH WEIR
We need more biomass.
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04-11-01, 09:48 PM
Two more words, Drifter: Mysis Shrimp http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/smile.gif
(I don't really know if these would take in lanier, but it would be cool)
Ok, Jones and the dam are good. They have good habitat and are fun to wade. But the experience you are asking for is still there(in my mind). It has artificial only regs, many browns(and some bows), lots of rising fish(and fish that will hit six inch fire tiger rapalas)- it is the stretch from GA 20- GA 141. At least about mcginnis ferry, you rarely see more then a couple other people in an all day float(save some waders at settles). I always catch 30+ fish when I do this float and have caught my best hooch fish there. I like those other places and visit them(especially when I don't have a partner to do the other end of the float), but I always realize that I could escape the crowds, I just ain't working for it that day.
BTW, someone please show me where to sign to get the dh area filled with shoalies!
04-11-01, 10:07 PM
Would you rather have all them Corn chunkers at Burells Ford? http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/smile.gif
When the Bluebacks get through Buford Dam, the biomass problem in the river will be solved.
04-12-01, 10:22 AM
Riverman- If they bring their own rocks to stand on, and grease themselves up real slick, they might squeeze between the one's already there. Screw BF. It's useful just as a parking lot and jumping off point to hike in from.
bbell- Thank you for saying a lot of what I've been thinking about regarding stocking too many fish more eloquently than I've been able, or heard said. And yes, that book was quite pricy. Think I'll have to wait till Father's Day for that one.
Is that even possible? I figure it would only be blueback chum coming through the turbines. But then again, that might grow some big browns.
Fish regularly swim through turbines that are not turning, and many get lucky even when they are turning. It's just a matter of time until the bluebacks establish themselves behind Buford Dam. Most of the populations of BB's in the state have been "Johny Appleseeded". They have been a big plus in many areas, but they create some interesting problems for fishery managers.
04-12-01, 10:19 PM
I'm with you. The hatches at the dam are tremendous. The water literally bubbles with rising trout. I too believe this is a great food source, and probably underrated in its importance to the trout.
I'm no biologist, but biology has not always been right on the mark with regard to tailwaters.Originally the New Mexico DNR did not think that the midge hatches below Navajo Dam would not support a C&R population, because the river contained no forage fish. As we all know the SanJuan river "quality waters " now boast the largest population of 20 inch+ trout in ths U.S.A.
Even in my favorite Ozark rivers the DNR stated that the one time stockings of Cutthroats in 1973 was a mistake, and the fish would not survive.In 1997 the DNR started stocking them again, and offered no explanation of their continued presence in both rivers during that 24 year span.
I spoke to ranger in June of 1999 who was fishing along side me in the Norfork. He insisted even then that neither the Cutts or the Rainbows could breed in the rivers despite the fact that he was fishing to cutthroats that were on the redds at the time, and both of us had caught several Cuttbows that day.
I ask him if there had been any stocking of Cuttbows in the rivers . He stated "no".
That would make the enforcement of the 18 inch and above rule on Brooks,Browns, and Cutthroats to hard to enforce he said. He offered me no explanation of how Cuttbows would otherwise appear in a river of "non breeding" Rainbows and "non breeding" Cutthroats.
Dont get me wrong, I believe that without the Arkansas DNR's very strict enforcement of current regulations, that the "tons" of fish in those three tailwaters would be "lbs" of fish. However over the years science has told them that the kinds of conditions they now have could not exist.
I also believe the Hooch has at least hot spots of hidden potential that if afforded the opportunity to flourish might surprise us all. I dont know if there are fingerling stockings of Rainbows in the Hooch or not, but GrayGhost and Bowtied watched me pull no less than 40 fish out a nice little run last Sunday. Probably 25 to 30 of those fish were "dinks" as Ghost would call them. Three to five inches long, pink fins outlined in white, gray diamond pattern along their side with a slight pinkish irredescence,olive backs moving toward a near black tail,white bellies, and they jump maybe 4 times their body length out of the water when hooked. Stocked ? you decide.
My point is this I believe that the Rangers have more responsibility than they have resources. That's not their fault. I believe they are truly working very hard, and would like our help.
However I also believe that the river would benefit greatly from tighter regulations in selected areas, and stricter enforcement of the current regulations. Tailwater environments have only been around fifty or sixty years. We do not know 100 percent what their capable of supporting or how they will ultimately evolve.
Science has taught us on thing for sure the more mankind injects his presence into nature the greater the decline in the overall health of nature.Since mankind and nature must co-exist, I believe both of our best hopes lie in finding some sort of balance. I pray that we find that balance for our sake as well as the trout's.
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04-12-01, 11:46 PM
It seemed more like 50 Tentwing when im thrashing the water just trying to catch something. He said he was using a little nymph pattern but me and Bowtied think he was forming little powerbait nymphs . Which is ok but he wouldn't give us any. http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/smile.gif
The potential of Hooch can not be compared to other rivers in other parts of the country. 32 miles of tailwater is a drop in the bucket and can not be micro-managed. The river has to be looked as a complete ecosysytem, and the Hooch is very limited in what it can support. The only greatest source of nutrients for the Hooch and for most trout streams in Georgia is the leaves that fall in them. These leaves provide the the base for the food chain that can support mabe 150lbs of trout per mile of river year around.
In other rivers (Gunnison, Yellowstone, White), there is soluble limestone which greatly boosts the productivity of water plants which than form the bases of the food chain there, and can support upwards of 800lbs of fish per mile of river.
In the spring, the Hooch is certainly over stocked for what it can support through the year, and the bulk of those fish will die over the next winter if they are not caught out. Also, this produces a fishery with a lot of small fish because there is only so much food to go around. However, at 150lbs of fish per mile, anglers would quickly lose interest in the river because a caught fish would be rare. That's why the DNR stocks the river so heavily (Everyone loves the C&R area). The Hooch is a catch and release fishery, and it is managed for the pleasure of the greatest number of people. Unfortunately, hard core fishermen only constitute a small minority of the that group.
An interesting(?) follow-up to this thread. The seasons been open a month now and I have observed a total flip-flop in my "home" section above Settles. This weekend I got nothing but rainbows and last weekend only one brown. I suppose two things are happening: stocked rainbows are becoming distributed and the locals are keeping fish.
Several tubers with spin gear have proudly displayed their "nice batch of browns" stringer. I politely suggest they keep the rainbows since the browns are "wild" fish, but I guess I'm just a yuppie with a fly rod. Hopefully they will rebuild....
04-30-01, 03:12 PM
Sorry to hear about your "home" stretch getting depleted of browns. I was hoping to get up that way and try my hand.
What a long strange trip it's been...
Please, NJfish.....my head was quite comfortable in the sand....
I would have hoped those browns that took me #20's and 7x to fool were smarter too, but they obviously were suckers for his 2" gold rapala. Since "no-kill" doesn't seem to exist in fisheries management here, how about an easier pill to swallow, say a "fly fishing only" stretch.
05-01-01, 11:25 AM
Thanks all, this has been one of the best threads through the board in a while. I learned so much from all the post.
05-01-01, 12:30 PM
NJfish, if the browns were more than 8-10 inches long, then there's a good chance that they weren't wild, but stocked browns. A stringer full of 12 inch browns may have very few wild(stream-born fish if you like) fish. The DNR does stock brown trout and these were likely the "suckers" that fell for a lure.( However, I suppose large browns could be caught on a lure if they aren't tuned in to the bugs. )
I also was under the impression that the Buford Hatchery was still stocking some amount of fingerlings in certain stretches of the river, thus the reason behind the smaller fish. ???
05-01-01, 01:11 PM
I would like to challenge this statement, if I may......
<<<First of all, the only way a C&R regulation could possibly be implemented was if brown trout were caught many times each, and had good growth potential; however, this isn't the case for the brown trout in THIS river. >>>
This isn't the case at Smithgall woods, Waters Creek, or Noontootla Creek (which is virtually C&R due to the size limit)either was/is it ? http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/smile.gif
If we can feed trout in Waters, and give it C&R only regs, why not a river with wild fish? The trout in Noontootla, I'm assured by Mr. Durniak(Corrected-edited post- Originally attributed to Mr Keefer, but it just dawned on me that the small stream data was forwarded to me by Jeff D. - sorry ), do not have a high growth rate. And, oddly enough, I find myslef asking why the brown trout in the Hooch aren't caught and released many times. I released half a dozen in one of the shoals between JB and Holcombe last Sat. Small, 6inch browns that were, in my uneducated but experienced(in fishing) opinion , wild fish.
I suppose the next person crafty enough to figure out how to catch them (just throwing out a the right fly won't do it I found..there is a trick to it...)would probably be a ffer that would release them again. The one person fishing spin gear and lures got one hit all day I believe. The browns are wary and difficult to fool, and just any old joe-blow is not going to catch them. And as we all know, Joe-Blow is the one who would eat them...so it stands to reason that yuppie-snobby ffers are going to catch most of the wild fish..and then probably release them. However, like bbell, I am fighting the urge to put my head in the sand.
If we can't micro-manage it, then I say make The Dam to Holcombe Bridge No Kill Water. Let the truck chasers have the rest of the river and stock it til it pops if you like. http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/smile.gif
[This message has been edited by The Owl (edited 05-01-2001).]
[This message has been edited by The Owl (edited 05-01-2001).]
Well, since no one took bbell's offer, I will....I'd love to go fishing with you bbell, anytime. And I'd love to figure out how to start catching browns again. I've only caught rainbows for the last three trips. It's kind of frustrating. Even more frustrating was the spin fisherman floating just upstream of me and drifting his rooster tail literally within feet of where I was standing, and then reeling it upstream! I could see the blade of the spinner!! I asked him if he saw me, and he said yes! And b/c I was catching a few he asked what I was using! HUH...a feeding frenzy mentality indeed.....you're correct bbell, it's not right.
And I'd also like to respond to Gonetoseed's post which IMO, was a very good post. He (or she, but probably he) brought up a good point that never really made much sense to me. Why continue to manage a part of the river as a put and take trout fishery only? Especially when it reduces trout management resources that can be more reasonably dispatched or distributed in regions of the river that actually do represent trout habitat (world-class or not)?? There's nothing at all wrong with a top notch shoal bass fishery. And while we're at it, I think I heard somewhere, sometime that the Toccoa actually runs over limestone and the wild fish persist in spite of little in the way of regulations. To NGTO, why not pursue more stringent regulations on an unheralded river that actually may represent the best potential for a 'world class' fishery?
And since we're getting into the math of things....
Poaching ffisherman/ffisherman <<<<<< Poaching bait fisherman/bait fisherman
[This message has been edited by gfra (edited 05-01-2001).]
05-03-01, 12:38 PM
Drifter, is this the reason that fishing is so good there ? How much does it cost to build? Where would it need to go and how many would the Hooch need? Bluebacks+FishWeir=WorldClassFishery ???
If I'm not mistaken, the weir is there to add oxygen to the water. I'm not sure how bad O2 levels are in the hooch. What the hooch really needs is an afterbay, to keep flows constant and reduce the scouring in the upper hooch. Pipe dreams I know.
The weir also reduces the scouring effect substantially. I have heard that there are dissolved oxygen problems in the river at times.
I think there is one on the Ocmulgee below Lake Jackson. Don't know why it is there.
Oh and, let's go fishing next winter, when the truck chasers go away. I hope they leave a few of those browns there...hope that last winter wasn't just a lucky accident.
[This message has been edited by bbell (edited 05-03-2001).]
The aerators behind Lake Jackson were put in about 25 years ago to add oxygen to the water that was being pulled out of the unoxygenated deep water of the lake. This modification quickly brought back a dead fishery.
The same situation is happening at Lanier. When they install the new turbines, they are planning on adding an oxygen injection system to improve the low oxygen levels behind the dam that occur in the summer.
I remember talking to Johm Biaga, the former trout biologist on the Hooch, and he said the oxygen levels sometimes measured as low as 2-3ppm (parts per million) behind the dam. Typically, fish seek oxygen levels that are about 9-12 ppm, and the Hooch will achieves this saturation level before the Ga20 bidge as it moves over shoals.
Fish are always on the verge of oxygen starvation, and that's why during a fight, if you can keep them on the line long enough they will run out of oxygen, and you'll win as their muscles go into anaerobic distress.
05-04-01, 02:42 AM
The Drifter <'(((><
The Virtual Fish Camp (http://www.mindspring.com/~skeeble/virtualfishcamp.htm)
05-04-01, 11:51 AM
Quote from link - <<< Recent biological monitoring shows an increase in diversity of aquatic insects and small fish in the river and a significant reproduction of trout. >>>
Thanks, Drifter. I think this says it all. http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/smile.gif
Lisa, how do you determine the number of times that a specific trout is caught? Tagging comes to mind - is that right ?
[This message has been edited by The Owl (edited 05-04-2001).]
05-04-01, 09:01 PM
Unfortunately Buford Dam is managed by the narrow-minded and prehistoric Corp of Engineers as opposed to the more progressive TVA http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/frown.gif
The Drifter <'(((><
The Virtual Fish Camp (http://www.mindspring.com/~skeeble/virtualfishcamp.htm)
05-04-01, 11:46 PM
Does the Corp also control the river downstream? If we wanted a fish wier(weir, whatever. http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/wink.gif ) at Medlock bridge......whose arm would we twist?
( feeling like this should be going out in an email for some reason. http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/wink.gif )
05-05-01, 10:56 PM
......and a creepy hush falls over the thread...... http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/wink.gif
05-06-01, 12:27 AM
I'm not sure Owl ???????
05-14-01, 12:17 AM
You know that old saying about "actions" ?
I'm tired of talking, again. What is needed is a plan.
( faintly, in the back corner of the room, a hushed " ooooh boy " is mumbled. http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/wink.gif )
05-16-01, 12:21 PM
First, to keep track of tagged fish you can put external tags on, and have people remove them (as we did in the Hooch). You can also have people sign in and out when fishing and write down the number they caught. Since you know how many have been stocked, you can tell how many times each fish has been caught. Of course, this only works on a stream where you can control access.
Next, the weir you speak of on the S. Holston is a labyrinth weir, and is specialized to increase dissolved oxygen levels in an area with low DO. I have worked on that river, and it is a classic E.TN limestone tailwater. Back in the 80's, the Corp's looked into putting a weir (not a labyrinth) at Level Cr. I have the doc if anyone wishes to see it. For various reasons they didn't go through with it.
Two reasons why a weir would be put on a tailwater system are to increase DO and to increase wetted perimiter. The Corp has addressed both those issues. They maintain a good wetted perimiter by having the house unit constantly generating, and they are replacing the two large units with autoventing units (I worked on the TVA tailwater with the prototypes and saw how well they worked).
My best guess is that the weir idea is dead in the water. There isn't a necessary reason at this time to install one.
Lisa, what are the chances of the new sewage treatment facilities being passed by the georgia "environmental protection division"? And say if the plans are passed, could you speculate on what their effect will be on what is considered to be the cleanest part of the hooch? I really appreciate your response.
05-16-01, 08:35 PM
Any idea on the completion date for the autoventing turbine blades?
As gfra typed, thanks for your imput!
The Drifter <'(((><
This document and its author are not affiliated with __(insert your favorite company here). Copyright (c) 2001 all rights reserved.
The Virtual Fish Camp (http://www.mindspring.com/~skeeble/virtualfishcamp.htm)
05-18-01, 10:33 AM
probably two years, but that is up for debate, I was told two years till completion when I started working here and it will be four years in September!
05-19-01, 08:05 PM
but is it the same dumb fish, or each of the fish that was stocked?
( No reply needed. http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/smile.gif )
I noted on Boles/ Bell Road this week (runs from McGinnis to Abbotts) quite a few people had "No Sewer Plant" signs along the road in reference to the new proposed Fulton plant. A bandwagon to jump on?...
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