Make Your Voice Heard: Speak Out for Tellico River Trout

Tellico River is one of East Tennessee’s premier freestone trout streams. In fact, it’s the largest natural trout stream in the state. It’s headwaters begin in North Carolina in the Nantahala National Forest. Peckerwood Branch, Mistletoe Creek, and Fain Ford are all noteworthy locations across the state line.

Most Tennesse anglers aren’t aware of the fact that the upper Tellico system is one of the most prolific native brook trout fisheries in the Southeast. Travel a few miles across the state line and you’ll start picking up a few specks mixed in with rainbows. Go far enough and you’re in pure speck water. Few ever travel that far up the river because:

  1. They came for the stocked trout found from the mouth of Turkey Creek upstream to the state line
  2. They’re catching so many fish they didn’t bother to go any further upstream
  3. The road inside North Carolina gets wild and woolly pretty quick

This area has long been designated for ORV (Off Road Vehicle) use. Over time these trails have eroded dramatically and many ORV users have strayed from designated trails. Unfortunately the Tellico River has begun to look like an awful mudhole after any rain.

Tellico River receives far more silt than other trout streams in the region. Silt chokes out aquatic insects and trout spawning areas. This has all been traced to ORV trails that function as muddy gutters that empty directly into the trout streams.

The Nantahala National Forest is about to remove the ORV designation from upper Tellico River because of the siltation problems that have led to serious water quality issues. They have outlined six different alternative plans, but keeping ORV’s away from trout streams is a big part of the plan.

You can read more about it in The Chattanoogan. Be sure to click on the link below and email the Forest Service with your comments. It won’t take you more than a few seconds.

The Forest Service is accepting comments through March 28, 2009.