Progress Report: Lynn Camp Prong Brook Trout Restoration in the Smokies

Last week Charity and I volunteered one day when the Great Smoky Mountains National Park fisheries biologists went to check on the brook trout population in Lynn Camp Prong. This stream was recently restored with native brook trout from other streams in the Smokies after all rainbow trout were removed from the stream. This is all upstream of the 85′ Lynn Camp Cascades that blocks rainbows from moving back into the stream.

Shocking Lynn Camp Prong

Biologists and volunteers shocking Lynn Camp Prong to check on the native brook trout population

Several consecutive years of high water in the late autumn and early winter have hampered reproduction on the stream as spawning redds were likely washed out. The main concern of biologists this year was how many “young of the year” fish they would find; fish that hatched from eggs laid last fall. We were all thrilled to find an abundance of new fish. Typically we all get excited about larger trout but I’ve never seen so many smiles for tiny fish. This confirmed that last autumn’s spawn was successful.

One thing that stuck out to my eye was that we primarily found larger trout and tiny fish with only a few fish in between. This was evidence of failed spawns from previous seasons. The stream was full of older fish and brand new fish with very few survivors from the years when floods limited spawning success.

Measuring Lynn Camp Brook Trout

One of many nice native brook trout that were seen in Lynn Camp Prong. This one was around 9″.

We were only able to help on one of the four days so we checked back with head fisheries biologist Matt Kulp to see how the rest of the week went. He confirmed that as biologists moved upstream over the course of the week the numbers only got better. In fact, the test sites with the fewest fish were the farthest downstream and each site improved as they moved upstreams. Population numbers worked out to over 2,000 trout per mile in most sections of the stream.

A few weeks ago another 400+ fish were brought into the lower section of the stream with the lightest population to supplant what was already there. These fish were released nearby, but not in the same site where we checked the stream. Those fish recently introduced along with their offspring will certainly disperse in the coming weeks and month ahead.

We’re hoping this means the stream will be opened soon!

All the brook trout were released back into Lynn Camp Prong after they were all counted, measured, and weighed.

All the brook trout were released back into Lynn Camp Prong after they were all counted, measured, and weighed.

Comments

  1. Wow, those are some meaty looking specs. Are you sure you aren’t in Colorado ? 🙂

  2. Drew P. says:

    So encouraging! Thanks for sharing Ian.