03/20/11
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives
2  .  Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
3.    Little Brown Stoneflies
4.    Quill Gordons
5.    Blue Quills
6.    Little Black Caddis

The Basics of Fly Fishing Series - Fish of the Smokies - Part Two

Brown Trout:
The brown trout is originally from Europe. It got its start in the streams of the park
from trout that were stocked outside of the park. There was never any official
stocking of brown trout that took place within the park's boundaries. It's possible
there were attempts to do so by individuals in some streams. Of the three trout
species the brown trout is by far the largest one to be found in the park.

Brown trout are very difficult to spot in a stream. They can actually change their
color to blend in with their surroundings. They are also capable of resting on the
bottom of the stream and when they do, they look much like the bottom.  

Browns are found mostly in streams in the lower elevations. They prefer water
temperatures ranging from the mid 50's up to the high 60's F. They are capable of
surviving in water temperatures as high as eighty degrees F.

Most smaller brown trout, those less than 10 inches long, feed on insects as well as
a large variety of other foods. Once they reach a larger size they tend to change
their feeding habitats and prey on bait fish, crustaceans and even other small trout.
This allows a few of them to grow to a very large size. It has always been assumed
that the brown trout hides under rocks and crevices in the banks most of the day
and that they prefer to feed only under low light conditions. Recent studies have
proven that this is not nearly as true as once thought. In general, brown trout will  
feed most of the time they are undisturbed for long periods of time. It's certainly true
that they are very difficult to approach without spooking them and during the time
anglers are attempting to do so, they definitely hide under rocks.

Brown trout spawn in the fall. During this time the trout (especially the males) can be
very aggressive. Both the males and the females tend to lose their normal caution
and completely expose themselves at times. Although anglers find it very difficult to
pass up a large brown trout involved in the spawning process, they should.
Catching a big brown trout while it is spawning and/or protecting its redd is certainly
nothing to take pride in even though it may be legal to do so. Most of the large
brown trout that are caught in the park are caught during the spawning period of
time. The very large brown trout can certainly be caught at other times, but it takes
a lot of effort, skill and knowledge to do so.

Brook Trout:
Brook trout are the only native species of the three trout found in the park. They are
a Southern Appalachain strain of species or sub-species. Brook trout spawn in the
Fall. The juveniles stay hidden in the gravel until Spring. They average 4 to 5
inches in length and rarely exceed 10 inches. A brook trout found in a stream that is
over 10 inches long should be considered a trophy.    

The brook trout has a brown to a dark green basic color with a distinctive marbled
pattern  of lighter shades across the sides and back and extending to the dorsal fin,
and often to the tail. There's a very distinctive scattering of red dots, enclosed by
blue colors along the flank. The belly and lower fins are reddish in color and the fins
have white leading edges. Often the belly, particularly the males, becomes very red
or orange when the fish are spawning.

At one time brook trout were found in just about all the streams in the Smoky
Mountains. In the 1880's, primitive logging techniques caused huge population
loses. Many of these populations were replaced by rainbow trout. Most all of the
brook trout now reside in streams that are above 3000 feet in elevation. Many of the
streams in the park, approximately 150 miles of them, were opened just a few years
ago to brook trout fishing after being closed for approximately thirty years. At the
present time, there are a few short sections of brook trout streams that are still
closed for studies.

It's the objective of the park (and other national parks like Yellowstone) to protect
and restore the native species to their original habitat. It has been reported that
about 17 miles of streams have been restored with a pure brook trout population by
the Great Smoky Mountains National Park fishery managers.

2011 James Marsh