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Old 11-29-17, 01:24 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by browniez View Post
It interests me that Settles has the lowest growth rate of brown trout studied on the hooch, with the highest percentage rate of browns. It was a significant difference as well. Don't quote me but I think the literature showed that browns at Settles grow at a rate of only 50 to 60 percent of other areas.

I think this lends some support to the fact the river can only biomass given other static factors.

I'm almost wondering if we REALLY want a top end fishery, we should KEEP some trout. As backwards as that sounds.

If you've ever seen the shocking done, it will absolutely blow your freaking mind how many are there.
Temperature marginal water is where the bait lives, and bait makes for bigger fish. High trout densities are more a product of falling within the preferred temp range, but colder water holds less of the big bites that make big trout.
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Old 11-29-17, 02:00 AM   #22
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+1 on the enforcement of regulations. Whether we like it or not, humans are one of the top, if not THE top impactors of freshwater ecosystems. Also,
I would love to volunteer/help on a study like this, though not extremely related, two years as a research assistant in a Microbiology lab at the University might help.



+1, and there are some reasonable ways of increasing Population size, and therefore the capacity to hold larger numbers of lunker trout. This conversation will actually help me study for my upcoming Final in my Upper Division Ecology class haha.

The basic ecological equation assuming logistic growth

dN/dt = rN [(K-N)/(K)]

dN/dt = the population growth rate over time
r = the intrinsic growth rate, basically how quickly the population grows per individual already in the population
N = the current population number
K = the carrying capacity

By increasing the carrying capacity and the intrinsic growth rate we can increase the number of trout within our river and therefore ability to have more trout in the "lunker" level. But it is easier said than done... We could increase habitat size (not very feasible at Settles), decrease interspecific and intraspecific competition of brown trout between other species and with themselves respectively (not very feasible), and other such factors.

In spite of this we CAN focus on increasing the reproductive efficiency of brown trout to increase the intrinsic growth rate (r) and decrease the effect of human pollutants and other factors to increase both carrying capacity (K) and intrinsic growth (r). This is feasible and can be done by reducing streamside erosion/silting to allow for more effective reproductive success. We could also decrease fertilizer/sewage runoff from feeder creeks to maintain a healthier and more viable population. In brief, a higher carrying capacity and intrinsic growth rate would help not only more fish find themselves on the end of your line, but allow them the chance to sustain a larger "lunker' age group as well.

What is also relevant to a catch and keep fishery like the upper TW is increasing the MSY (Maximum Sustainable Yield), which basically means the point at which you can catch fish and not effect the population overall. This is derived from the logistic growth curve stated before and would be the halfway point of the curve on a graph. More simply, the higher the carrying capacity due to logistic growth, there is less impact due to a trout being harvested.

But like anything related to Ecology, the complex interconnectivity of a freshwater ecosystem would result in some foreseeable and unforeseeable consequences. One that comes to mind is the impact on other fish species within the river due to brown trout competitive advantages, and therefore this effect on other species within the river.

Obviously, more study is needed to see the true condition of the river and its brown trout population. I understand these are idealized equations/scenarios and the real situation is much more complex. Additionally, I comprehend that we are talking about larger trout than just population numbers, but hey, if there are more trout, then you are more likely to catch one .

Whew that was a long post.
There's no intrinsic relationship between the carrying capacity of an ecosystem and the size of the fish in the ecosystem, though (which I think you were getting around to implicitly acknowledging right at the end, but in the interest of clarity, I'll restate it explicitly). Carrying capacity is a measure of absolute aggregate biomass potential, but one 30" trout has the same biomass as like, 50+ 6-7 inchers, and hence, the energy requirements of dozens of smaller fish. In general, and with a few, truly world class exceptions, most fisheries are either a numbers game or a size game.

In the case of trout, population densities are driven more by the availability of cold, highly oxygenated water than by the richness of the forage base. The drainages in the GSMNP have some of the highest trout densities per surface acre of water in all of South—they're also among the most abjectly infertile bodies of water in the region. No problem for trout; like most fish, they're subject to indeterminate growth, and will just stay small if there isn't enough forage to get big.

What grows big fish is an ample forage base combined with low population densities. Harvest is one way to lower density (albeit a blunt and often flawed instrument). Another is to stop dumping pellhead stocktards on top of populations of real fish (this is just terrible as far as management techniques go, but beloved by hick state DNRs, witness the travesties inflicted on my home state's trout streams by NCWRC). Is that feasible politically in this part of the country? Alas, probably not.
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Old 11-29-17, 05:11 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dylar View Post
There's no intrinsic relationship between the carrying capacity of an ecosystem and the size of the fish in the ecosystem, though (which I think you were getting around to implicitly acknowledging right at the end, but in the interest of clarity, I'll restate it explicitly). Carrying capacity is a measure of absolute aggregate biomass potential, but one 30" trout has the same biomass as like, 50+ 6-7 inchers, and hence, the energy requirements of dozens of smaller fish. In general, and with a few, truly world class exceptions, most fisheries are either a numbers game or a size game.

In the case of trout, population densities are driven more by the availability of cold, highly oxygenated water than by the richness of the forage base. The drainages in the GSMNP have some of the highest trout densities per surface acre of water in all of South—they're also among the most abjectly infertile bodies of water in the region. No problem for trout; like most fish, they're subject to indeterminate growth, and will just stay small if there isn't enough forage to get big.

What grows big fish is an ample forage base combined with low population densities. Harvest is one way to lower density (albeit a blunt and often flawed instrument). Another is to stop dumping pellhead stocktards on top of populations of real fish (this is just terrible as far as management techniques go, but beloved by hick state DNRs, witness the travesties inflicted on my home state's trout streams by NCWRC). Is that feasible politically in this part of the country? Alas, probably not.
Dylar, I believe we are on two ends of a spectrum. You gave a great microscopic analysis on what it takes to get bigger trout. I was posting much more broadly in favor for a healthier and more abundant population of self sustaining Brown trout within the Hooch. Do we need a more abundant population? I sure would like it and I am sure others would too, but further research would be needed to assess the viability of this.

I do agree that biomass is a critical factor in the growth of larger trout than we have today, and increasing carrying capacity would not have an impact on this. If I skewed my post to make it sound like it would, it was not intentional. As you have read, I clarify this at the end of my post. What I was conveying was an increased carrying capacity, and therefore population number, would statistically increase the probability of a larger number of trout in the subjective "big" trout range in the future. Am I saying that the trout would be larger than they are today due to a higher carrying capacity? No, but it would hypothetically increase the number of trout in the size group of say 14-18 inches given lots of time. The variances in the number of those increases in each size class would be very different given time elapsed/conditions. Admittedly "lunker" was not the term to use in my original post and I wholeheartedly agree with you that trout exhibit indeterminate growth.

I agree that most fisheries are geared towards a numbers game or a size game, but to realistically sustain and maintain a naturally reproducing brown trout population like we have in the Hooch, we need to find a healthy balance between the two.

I would be cautious to assume that cold, oxygenated water is more important than fertilized egg viability and forage abundance in terms of trout population density within the Hooch specifically. It is a tailwater and provides cold, oxygenated water year-round. It primarily needs help in the other 2 factors, and I simply mentioned the most realistic factor that we can change (fertilized egg viability).

I respectfully disagree with your application of the relationship between the infertility in GSMNP and its high population density of trout. To apply characteristics of an area like GSMNP drainage systems to a tailwater like the Hooch doesn't fit well. The areas are vastly different and I suspect that the high population of trout in the GSMNP is bolstered by increased stocking as it is more of a fishing destination regionally than the Hooch.

In regards to stocking, I don't see a problem with it on the Hooch. Most of those rainbows don't survive for long, and if they do, their level of propagation has been proven to be unsustainable. Areas like your home rivers I am on your side, I'd hate to see my brookie stream stocked with browns or bows, but most people fish to eat. If some of the other streams are not stocked, I'm sure a higher number of wild fish would find themselves on a dinner plate, and I'm sure you and I both realize this.

Also, a word of caution. I'd avoid derogatory statements towards any state's DNR within this forum. They do a great service for us and most users on this forum respect their effort and dedication, even if we disagree with some of the things that they do.
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Old 11-29-17, 07:21 AM   #24
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You guys and discourse like this is what NGTO is about to me. Those stockers are what grow the lunkers.

It's kind of why the Hooch is so cool, it's a different kind of Petri dish. I would not want to stock established wild freestone streams.

And I love DNR and WRD, they do the best they can with what they have. Sadly it's not geared towards out minority fishery as much.

I will say every LEO or representative in the WRD has always treated me with the utmost respect, have been responsive to established poaching patterns when they have the man hours, and generally just come off as good folk.

I have heard some very good things about this year's class of browns, among the best ever. Which is good, as the high flow of 2015 appears to have pretty much wiped that class from what I hear.

We were so worried about the warmer temps this year. It actually appears to have encouraged more aquatic vegetation, and has led to much healthier juvenile sunfish population's this year. Transitional forage.

Interesting how some factors set up things we can't predict.

CHEFKY and I were out last weekend and I have never seen hatches of that caliber on the hooch.
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Old 11-29-17, 09:33 AM   #25
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You guys and discourse like this is what NGTO is about to me. Those stockers are what grow the lunkers.
That was my thinking, that stockers, stupid stockers, would swim right through a big ol browns territory and bam, lunch! While the little browns might not be so inclined to do so... I've seen on one occasion a big ol brown roll on a little rainbow I had hooked. Anecdotal evidence, at best and I am sure little browns get eaten up, as well.

Quote:
It's kind of why the Hooch is so cool, it's a different kind of Petri dish. I would not want to stock established wild freestone streams.

And I love DNR and WRD, they do the best they can with what they have. Sadly it's not geared towards out minority fishery as much.

I will say every LEO or representative in the WRD has always treated me with the utmost respect, have been responsive to established poaching patterns when they have the man hours, and generally just come off as good folk.
I also concur here, while I have not had much experience or interaction with DNR folks, all of the interaction I have had has been more than positive. Working in academia, I am very aware of budget issues and working within limited means and I appreciate all that these guys and gals do. Further, they've been immensely helpful with me getting Spencer, my 7 year old, into the outdoors and fishing. After hiking into a stream and catching his first ever Speck, he actually gave a little report at school about native brook trout, habitat loss, and the importance of conservation (mind you he was in kindergarten so the science wasn't on par, but these folks getting kids involved means lifelong appreciation and hopefully conservation of nature, and in this case cold water fisheries).

Quote:
I have heard some very good things about this year's class of browns, among the best ever. Which is good, as the high flow of 2015 appears to have pretty much wiped that class from what I hear.

We were so worried about the warmer temps this year. It actually appears to have encouraged more aquatic vegetation, and has led to much healthier juvenile sunfish population's this year. Transitional forage.

Interesting how some factors set up things we can't predict.

CHEFKY and I were out last weekend and I have never seen hatches of that caliber on the hooch.
I have noticed increased vegetation; my understanding (again limited by knowledge in this area) is that increased vegetation has been positively correlated not only with sunfish populations, but also with crustacean populations. This may be inaccurate, but if true that would mean increased sunfish and larger invertebrates populating the waters. And that means on average larger meals/caloric intake per eat. And I think that would result in healthier, possibly larger fish. I've personally had a lot of success fishing scud and sowbug patterns; in fact my first ever Brown was off a huge scud that was hit SO hard I would've sworn it was shark!

I am very interested in the evolution of this science conversation, but I also think that study of this particular ecology is as important, if not more important than implementing changes. The DNR stopped stocking browns x number of years ago, BECAUSE they observed that natural reproduction was occurring. I presume that was an experiment with the idea that they'd go back to dumping browns if the natural reproduction failed to thrive. Well we all know that it thrived/is thriving - that is until Big T catches ALL of the fish at IF
At the same time we want to take action, but that action, or any action might actually do more punctuated ecological damage then the more gradual changes for which organisms typically adapt.

I am particularly interested in hearing weather the DNR or other fishery biologists have genetic data that would allow us to determine the degree of drift in the river. 10-15 years of successful brown trout reproduction (10-15+ generations) could have resulted in the small, albeit important, accumulation of random non-lethal alleles that allow our brown trout to adapt to certain ecological variations (temperature tolerance on the upperend of the range for Browns) that might result in the demise of freestone browns, or browns in other watersheds. Having data like that IMHO allows for more informed interventions by humans.
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Old 11-29-17, 09:55 AM   #26
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Brown trout are permanent residents of the Hooch tailwater now, I don't think any factor could eradicate them - outside of a chemical dump or drastic change in Buford dam generation.

It was 20 years ago that Lisa Klien, DNR biologist, recommended at an NGTO Fling that anglers start keeping browns as the population was stunted due to available food. No one wanted to believe her and start keeping browns, so we are having the same conversation today. They taste substantially better than the stocked rainbows..
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Old 11-29-17, 02:22 PM   #27
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It interests me that Settles has the lowest growth rate of brown trout studied on the hooch, with the highest percentage rate of browns.
If you've ever seen the shocking done, it will absolutely blow your freaking mind how many are there.
Right?! In particular, there are soooo many baby browns in that stretch it's astonishing.

To take a ten thousand foot view on some of this stuff:
Browniez is talking about decreasing the population density in order to make more 'room' for the big guys.

DoubleRainbows comments..it seems the formula you're using and the approach you're taking is with the intent of increasing the population density [with the hope(?) of somehow getting the 'odds' in favor of growing a few more big trout]. Albeit all very advanced ecological discussion and probably right on for studying/applying the stuff yall are covering in your ecology class.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding / oversimplifying but is this an 'odds' game or a 'competition' game?

Most of us understand this scenario as basically an issue of 'competition,' right?:
Presuming there's a given amount of food in the system, a higher population density of brown trout is going to lead to smaller average brown trout. A lower population density of brown trout is going to lead to larger average brown trout.

Ever try to split a kit kat 4 ways?

...and chachung was just trying to post a trip report....
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Old 11-29-17, 02:34 PM   #28
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Right?! In particular, there are soooo many baby browns in that stretch it's astonishing.



To take a ten thousand foot view on some of this stuff:

Browniez is talking about decreasing the population density in order to make more 'room' for the big guys.



DoubleRainbows comments..it seems the formula you're using and the approach you're taking is with the intent of increasing the population density [with the hope(?) of somehow getting the 'odds' in favor of growing a few more big trout]. Albeit all very advanced ecological discussion and probably right on for studying/applying the stuff yall are covering in your ecology class.



Maybe I'm misunderstanding / oversimplifying but is this an 'odds' game or a 'competition' game?



Most of us understand this scenario as basically an issue of 'competition,' right?:

Presuming there's a given amount of food in the system, a higher population density of brown trout is going to lead to smaller average brown trout. A lower population density of brown trout is going to lead to larger average brown trout.



Ever try to split a kit kat 4 ways?



...and chachung was just trying to post a trip report....


Right on Orey! There are flaws to any argument and I was just speaking on ecological principles, statistical probability, and assumption of some barred variables. Like any research based question, to have a definitive answer we need definitive proof.

In terms of the kit kat, when my brother and I were kids he would initially take one big bite out of the whole block so I wouldn't ask him to split it. Great brother huh?


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Old 11-29-17, 02:48 PM   #29
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...and chachung was just trying to post a trip report....
Yeah... right?

To mis-quote one of the greatest movies of my lifetime, Forrest Gump, "i just felt like fishin'~ (runnin~)"
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Old 11-29-17, 02:49 PM   #30
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It could be an odds and comp game if frequency-dependent selection allowed/selects for the proliferation of allelic variants that represent large and not so large phenotypes. There is an allele in Irish brown trout that has been linked, correlationally not causally, to increased brown trout size....

Ps, good report


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