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#842655 - 07/28/08 09:14 PM Maybe this will shed some light
captain hook
10 Point


Registered: 11/20/07
Posts: 4340
Loc: Knoxville

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On why I feel the way I do about the tailwaters in this state.

I was lucky or unlucky however you want to look at it, to have fished the Clinch along with tons of other people both pre and post the quality zone years. Pre, was much the same as it is now with the majority of fish being small and a few decent fish thrown in, plenty of really big fish mainly because only a few targeted them. During and 2 years after the QZ the fishery soared to a level which no one could have imagined and quickly became as good as any river in the country.

Sure people came to reap the rewards but there was plenty of fish to go round, and the avg. size was amazing. 22"-24" rainbows were regular occurences, and a 16" rainbow were a dime a dozen. It was great, most everyone you spoke with on the river was happy with how it was fishing and how things were going. Except for the float guys because the zone was laid out in a stupid manner, and the stubborn "few" who resisted the change because they lived in the county where the river is located.

In the end, they called TWRA's bluff and threatened private act. So TWRA wisely backed off until they had scientific evidence to support a reg of that nature.

Enter Phil Betolli and his TTU crew, who did an all encompassing study of the river from benthics to striper impacts and everything in between. Meanwhile the TVA fisheries guys were doing a similar study on fish alone. I was fortunate to have a ton of time during the cooler months to help with both groups, and mainly the TVA side. The study lasted for several years and every year the overall quality of the fish declined, to the point to where it was in the tank. No quality rainbows, mainly 8"-10" stockers.

The whole time myself and others were guiding almost everyday during the warmer months and witnessed pressure sky rocket. Boat ramps went from having 2 trucks/trailers on a weekday to having 15 and on the weekend that number doubled. Private access went wide open and stretchs where no one fished, 6 guys now stood, many times daily. And it is still like that many days now.

Betolli released his findings which highlighted that pressure wasn't an issue for the decline of the fishery, and blamed it on stuff like floods and sediment. Well from the perspective of folks who saw everything unfold in front of them on the river, it was clearly not the case with his conclusions. His suggestions to TWRA at the time, were to not implement any restrictive regs. as they would serve no benefit. Even though all data showed the rise and decline based on the QZ and few years following, and the noticeable increase in pressure which correlated to the decline of the fishery.

We had 50 meetings with TWRA biologists discussing this stuff, and every time they cowered to the same locals and to the "report."

Fast forward to 2006/2007 TWRA completes their own study and finds that many of the suggestions they chose to follow had not worked in an effort to make the fishery better. i.e. stocking more fish as fingerlings being the main one. Throwing more fuel on the fire did not make the fishing any better, as they were just being removed as fast as they went in.

They essentially find that pressure is having a negative impact, and that they now had scientific evidence to impose slot limits on the river. This go round there was none of the local folks (LUCRO) that even took the time to show up, and the new regs passed without any sort of fight. Now in 2008, rumors float of even stricter regs, and a new wave of input was asked for by TWRA coldwater guys, and maybe things will change again.

My view of this stuff is jaded to a large degree because of witnessing the rise and fall of a river due to political factors and data which was not representative of what was actually occurring. I seriously doubt that data was purposefully skewed, but it was not consistent with what was actually happening to the resource. It painted a picture of everything being okay, when that was not the case. In 2005 I can remember bait fisherman griping about how bad the fishing was, and how they longed to catch fish over 10" long consistently.

I know I am blunt, and rude, but hopefully this will help explain a little why I come across in that manner. Quite simply, spending almost every day on a river for 8 years in a row and watching the wheels fall off, and knowing exactly why, all the while being fed a completely different story can do that to a person.

I have no ill feeling towards any group of fisherman and understand we are all out there for the same reasons. Some just have different goals then others.
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#842731 - 07/28/08 10:06 PM Re: Maybe this will shed some light [Re: captain hook]
stillinscrubs
4 Point


Registered: 08/16/07
Posts: 350
Loc: nashville, tn

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I looked into my crystal ball and it showed me that BD, BW and gil will respond to this down playing it, attacking you, praising the TWRA, and talking about how great thier writing once was.......

I enjoyed reading it....tbhe sad part is you are the tenth or so person I have heard similar information from.....what a shame how that wonderful fishery was allowed to rot.

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#842756 - 07/28/08 10:32 PM Re: Maybe this will shed some light [Re: stillinscrubs]
gil1
12 Point


Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 6319
Loc: Nashville, TN

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That is exactly what I'm afraid of on the Caney! From my understanding, though, it's very difficult to prove what causes the downfall of a fishery (even if the answer is obvious) because there are so many other possible factors. The Commission wants scientific proof before passing regs., and they want the TWRA to get that proof. It's very difficult to prove that regs. will improve a fishery (or that the lack of regs. decimated a fishery). Since all rivers are different, the only way to know is to try it and see what happens.

I have no clue if it's just me, but although the Caney is fishing well, I already see a downturn in fish size.

Scrubs - Is there a sense of humor in there somewhere? You're sort of like a Chow or a postal worker or several of my exes - you just never know when it's gonna SSSPPPPLLLODE... Whatever's going on with you, I hope it gets better for you man.
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#842803 - 07/29/08 03:13 AM Re: Maybe this will shed some light [Re: gil1]
mike243
16 Point


Registered: 09/06/06
Posts: 11248
Loc: east tn

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well 1 things for certain,the river will only feed so many fish & when you dump them in by the truck load the amount of food drops per fish.also when you increase the # of fisherman you have fish that dont revive,get eat & got educated.you can only have so many cars in a race. fishing & rivers & lakes can only stand so much pressure & regulating that is difficult,looks like it will get flyflingers 1 day baitslingers 1 day & people who just want to paddle around another day.glad i dont have to make them all happy because theres no way that will ever happen,whats going to happen is they will shut the river down for a day or 2 each week to let it rest like citico does or use to do for restocking,mike243
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#842825 - 07/29/08 05:00 AM Re: Maybe this will shed some light [Re: mike243]
captain hook
10 Point


Registered: 11/20/07
Posts: 4340
Loc: Knoxville

Offline
 Originally Posted By: mike243
well 1 things for certain,the river will only feed so many fish & when you dump them in by the truck load the amount of food drops per fish.also when you increase the # of fisherman you have fish that dont revive,get eat & got educated.


Very true words. The massive stockings of a few years ago (750,000+ fish) was a disaster. The food base went to crap and it seemed like fish were stunted. And you are right about increases in pressure.

However if the river had been properly managed for years it could have withstood the pressure. But it was left under a take all you want and we'll throw more in mentality per the recommendations and it just got worse and worse.

You Caney guys are right that it will happen to you all, at some point. I hope not, and maybe the Caney is different, deeper, longer, and more inaccessible, but if something isn't done now then what you are experiencing is at risk.
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