Biologists Count Trout at Tremont


Yesterday I helped electroshock trout on the Middle Prong of Little River at Tremont. We worked 200 meters of the stream on the section followed by the gravel road. We were about a quarter mile from the end of the road.

There were a lot of biologists and volunteers involved. I helped net fish as they were stunned. These fish were put in buckets of water, then moved to large buckets of water on the bank. Biologists measured and weighed each fish and placed them in a mesh enclosure in the stream so the wouldn’t get picked up again as we continued to shock. We shocked the same 200 meters three times in to get as many fish as possible. All fish were returned to the stream when were done.

A big thunderstorm blew in a the end of the day so things got a bit chaotic as biologists were trying to wrap up their work as the severe weather blew in. For that reason I don’t have any hard numbers, but I can give you a quick synopsis of what I noticed.

There were at least a couple of hundred trout shocked up. All were rainbows; no brown trout were found here although there are some browns in the Middle Prong. I don’t think I saw any fish over 10″. Most looked like they were in the 5″-7″ range, but there were plenty of tiny trout that hatched earlier this spring. Dace were the only non-game fish we found. There were no sculpins, stonerollers, chubs, or shiners.

This was really a pretty typical sort of finding. Trout numbers did seem down after two years of drought, but there were still more than anyone could catch in an outing. The absence of brown trout wasn’t particularly telling since they’ve never been abundant at Tremont. The number of small trout showed that there are plenty more fish in the pipeline.

We’re heading over to Cataloochee for a few days to do some fishing during the “back to school” lull in the guide schedule. We should have some pictures to post when we get back.



  1. Collin Hays says:

    Hi Ian. I read your Tremont column with interest. Me and dad fished Tremont and I caught 20 fish (including a couple of dace) in about 5 hours of fishing. But there wasn’t a trout of size in the bunch.

    We fished Elkmont right where you turn in from the highway, and I caught a couple of nice sized trout – 10-11 inch rainbows. Really the largest wild fish I’ve caught so far.

    I will be very interested to see your success at Cataloochee. We fished just up slightly from the campground and up from there for half a day and I never got so much as a strike. That was in May, using dries, on a very mild day. I swear I didn’t even see a fish, so it had me wondering about the populations up there.

    Ian I’ve never heard you talk much about “wet” flies…seems its either nymphs or dries. But I caught a couple of SWEET stocker trout (one 16 inch, one 12, right behind my cabin in Cosby with big nasty looking wet flies.

    Your opinion on wet flies?

    Hope you, Charity, and the little one are doing good! Take care.

    Collin Hays

    • Collin,

      Hope you’re not disappointed to find out that Cataloochee fished quite well, and that’s in August when streams don’t typically fish very good. You’ll see the full report with pictures in a day or two.

      Wet flies are essentially overlooked in modern fly fishing but were staples about 10 years ago and earlier, especially in the Smokies. Soft hackles and others have always done well. The Speck is one of the best and it’s only known by a handful of fly fishers even in East Tennessee.


  2. I’d love to see some pics of the counting operation..