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Weak SoHo report and question

Started by bugman, November 01, 2010, 08:24:45 AM

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I fished the tailwater yesterday with friends – good hatch of yellows in the afternoon after 2 hour generation – midges in the morning before wind – caught several nice browns and rainbows.  Sorry, weak report, but I do have a question.  I heard from a regular on the river that the TN biologist was recommending that anglers start keeping some of the smaller browns.  Word is that this was mentioned at a local TU meeting in a presentation by the biologist.  Anyone hear of this?  Thanks. 


I haven't heard of it but I was asked last weekend if there was a slot limit. Since I release mine I couldn't answer that either.

Get Bent


It wouldn't surprise me if that was the case. There are a ton of smaller browns in that river.

Oh yeah, where the hell are your pics?? pn?

Konichiwa Bitches!


Correct Bent, the river is full of smaller browns in pods with good numbers.  You can easily see the pods under most conditions.  I avoid these when I can, and target those that have wondered and no longer find the need for safety in numbers.  These individuals are usually bigger and better fish.  BUT, I do see larger browns occasionally in with the smaller ones.  The river is interesting - can't deny that.

Sorry, no pics.  I do have a cheap point and shot, but never really take the time to even use it.

I did collect several male duns yesterday and am waiting for them to molt.  31 Oct. will likely be the last of the yellow duns that I get to collect in 2010. 


If the Blue Heron population on that river is any indication,  then there is clearly plenty of "food" in the river.  The river has always had a healthy population of herons, but it seems like in the last 5 years or so the heron population has exploded--hell, they're everywhere you turn your head.  You'd think they'd put a sizeable dent in the number of small trout, but it appears the browns are staying ahead of them.

Woolly Bugger

One always follows me to my hotspots...
ex - I'm not going to live with you through one more fishing season!
me -There's a season?

Pastor explains icons to my son: you know like the fish symbol on the back of cars.
My son: My dad has two fish on his car and they're both trout!


Quote from: bugman on November 01, 2010, 08:24:45 AM
I heard from a regular on the river that the TN biologist was recommending that anglers start keeping some of the smaller browns.  Word is that this was mentioned at a local TU meeting in a presentation by the biologist.  Anyone hear of this?  Thanks.

Maybe someone got this confused with the Smith River.  What you said is exactly what happened here, but Im sure you know that :)


Here's what I have learned from the TN fisheries biologist on the question of keeping small browns on the SoHo tailwater.

1.   There appears to be an overabundance of smaller browns (8-12") based on 2009-10 sampling data
2.   recruitment to the larger size class (16-20" slot) is beginning to drop off
3.   electro-fishing catch rate of the browns in the slot has fallen below the management plan objective (25 fish/hr)
4.   Recommendation - anglers should not feel bad about keeping some of the smaller browns.  It is better to keep these than the 14-15" fish at the edge of the slot
5.   Reproduction is adequate to maintain fishery
6.   March 2010 data = 891 browns (>7") in 2 hrs effort = nothing else like it in TN


Thanks for posting this.  It's interesting stuff.  It seems to jive with what I have been seeing on the river in the last few years, but I just don't get to fish enough to have a good feel for what's going on--especially when I see that Rod posted, "Has anyone seen the overall fish size any better than this year?"

I did feel like a lot of the smaller browns were starting to gain some size this year, but I'm just not seeing the numbers of larger fish that I am accustomed to seeing in years past.  I don't think the number of 20" fish is anywhere close to what it once was.


Electrofishing catch rates for SFH trout within the 16"-22" slot (bars are 90% confidence limits):



Quote from: Rod Champion on November 08, 2010, 15:16:58 PM
People read this stuff from all over.  They'll come and they will kill not only the smaller ones when they come.

Or they'll quit coming altogether like many of us did around 2000 when the fishing absolutely sucked.  A lot of people (myslef included) attributed the river's comeback to the slot limit.  Now, looking at Stephen's numbers, I'm beginning to wonder if these fluctuations are just part of a natural cycle.  I sure hope so because I don't like the trend of that graph. 

Personally, I'd rather be informed about what's going on.  Thanks for the info Bugman...I hadn't seen an updated version of that chart since 2006.


I am sorry Rod.  I do not think I am opening up anything.  I spoke with the biologist via email and he said his info could be repeated.  In fact, he stated the same info at a TU meeting. 

The problem will be getting anglers to keep ANY fish! Because the majority of those that fish the river are fly anglers, correct?  And most probably would rather have their testicles whacked with a hammer than keep any trout.  A public statement to this group may be just what is needed if you believe the data.  If the biologist feels there are too many small trout, then I believe him/her.  Will anglers flock to the river to kill small trout?  Absolutely not!  They can already keep those sized fish.  There are so many sections of the river that are inaccessible to the bulk of the guys that keep trout anyway.  When, was the last time someone kept a trout from the River's Way section down through Juddie's (spelling)?  My guess is there has not been a handful of fish creeled in that section over the last year.  Well, maybe during high flows. 

Public statement?!?!?!?  This is public knowledge and could/should be available to any interested party with an IQ greater than a brick.   

If we are approaching the carrying capacity of the tailwater, then obviously something needs to change.  Contrary to what many believe, there is a limit to what the river will support.  And no, I do not believe that anglers are keeping any more of the fish in the slot than they were back in 2006, when the river seemed to be at its peak.  I don't think keeping fish from the slot has anything to do with the decline shown in the graph.  If you believe the numbers stated earlier (891 browns = greater than any other TN resource), then you have to feel the balance of the river might be a bit skewed. 

Now, your idea of halting the planting of rainbows is a conundrum and, I think, deserves some thought.  BUT, this likely enters the realm of social concerns (keeping the natives happy with the status quo). 

And what would Harry know about fisheries management or river dynamics?  He is a brilliant man, BUT he doesn't know shat from shoe polish on this particular topic.  I'll call the old fart and get him straight.


I am a firm believer in doing what the biologist says to do on his river, whatever river that might be.  I can promise you the last thing any biologist wants, is for a river he is in charge of to go downhill.


I'm a relative newcomer to the river so I don't have much of a frame of reference - but I have a few questions.  I know that the area from Rivers Way down through Judd's is closed through the spawn.  Is it true that many of the larger fish spawn upstream of this area in the TVA section of the river?  And is it also true that it's common practice to fish for these trout even while they're on the redds in November and December?  Are there guides in the area that will even take clients to try for these big fish on the redds? How long has this been going on?

I've heard that a lot of this is true and have heard some anglers talking about it, although I've never seen it for myself.  If all of this is true, couldn't this be a contributing factor in the decline of bigger fish?  Maybe not enough of the bruisers are passing on their genes because they aren't being left alone to spawn...

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