For the first time since the Park’s establishment, all streams in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are open to fishing now with the opening of Lynn Camp Prong.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park (NP) fisheries department has been working hard for many years to restore native brook trout to many streams across the park. The only trout species native to the southern Appalachians, brook trout occupy only five percent of their native range across the southeast. Restoration projects like the one just completed on Lynn Camp Prong will ensure the long-term survival of the species throughout their native range.
Park biologists spent seven years on the brook trout restoration project on Lynn Camp Prong and its tributaries. Lynn Camp Prong is one of the streams that form the popular Middle Prong of Little River, a great fishing stream near Townsend, Tennessee.
The stream was officially opened on March 6, just in time for the spring fishing season. The newly-opened stream will offer anglers quality brook trout fishing on a mid-elevation stream that is larger than average compared to most Great Smoky Mountain NP brook trout waters.
The fisheries biologists, led by Matt Kulp, deserve a lot of credit for their efforts to protect the native trout. Park Superintendent Cassius Cash says:
The opening of all streams in the park to recreational fishing marks an incredible milestone for the park and speaks to the commitment and dedication of our biologists and partners in restoring fish populations in the Smokies.
For close to 30 years now, the biologists have been working to restore what now totals more than 27 miles of water in 11 different streams. Deforestation due to logging and resulting siltation eliminated brook trout from 75 percent of their range by the time of the park’s establishment in 1934.
The introduction of non-native rainbow and brown trout further exacerbated the problem when the introduced species out-competed the native brook trout in waters that they shared. The restoration process involves removing the non-native species from a watershed and then restocking the stream with native brook trout.
For many years, brook trout streams were closed to all fishing to protect the species. In more recent years, some streams were opened on an experimental basis to determine of angling had a significant impact on brook trout numbers. The results of the study show conclusively that fishermen have very little impact on overall brook trout numbers in the park.
If you are considering a trip to fish Lynn Camp Prong or elsewhere in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, current park fishing regulations include a seven-inch minimum size limit, five fish possession limit and the use of single hook, artificial lures only.