Smith River Trout Unlimited (SRTU) will host our end of year meeting on December 7, 2017, 6:30 p.m., at Rania's Restaurant, 147 Main St, Martinsville VA . This is the meeting where George Palmer, DGIF Fisheries Biologist gives his annual "Health of the Smith River Fishery" presentation. Water flows have been messed up due to work at Philpott Dam, however DGIF has been sampling as best they can. Some of us have helped out a few times on the lower river and this year we should know how long it is taking for fish to reach the 20 inch range. No one knows for sure what the prolonged flows and increased sediment has done to the fishery but George is optimistic and will share his thoughts on what 2018 may look like.
Other business to wrap up 2017:
1) Secretary & Treasury Reports
2) Overview of events the Chapter has participated in during the past year
3) Philpott Manager Chris Powell will update us on what to expect now that they are back to a regular generation schedule. (Be sure you call 276-629-2432 before going fishing)
4) Nomination and election of officers to lead the Chapter in 2017
Don't forget the Swap Table - If you have not participated you may be missing out. In the recent past we have had books, magazines (free for the taking), rods, reels, tying vises, waders, vests, tackle boxes and more. Bring what you want to sell or trade. Slap your name and a price on it and recycle the stuff you don't use or need. Look around for those "it was a good idea at the time" purchases you made but now reside in the back of your closet or garage. Be ready to haggle. Bring some extra cash and walk away with some neat "I need one of those" items!
take notes and post here, i wish i could go but have other "obligations"
I am pasting two items of general interest from the more detailed SRTU Minutes of our 12-7-17 meeting .
George Palmer, VDGIF Fisheries Biologist gave his annual "Health of the Smith River Fishery" presentation. Water flows have been messed up due to work at Philpott Dam but VDGIF has been sampling below Martinsville Dam using a raft followed by "work up crews" in canoes. They also sampled the Doe Run section using a jet boat. They have not been able to sample upstream of Koehler because flows have not been enough to float the raft but are too much for safe wading.
Overall they have been finding a lot of healthy looking fish. Several fish have gone well beyond the 20 inch mark. The fishery below Martinsville Dam continues to show promise. VDGIF has been fin clipping and moving small fish from the upper river to the lower river and a lot of them are now showing significant growth. They have also been stocking several thousand triploid (sterile) fingerling brown trout which are now showing up in the samples.
DGIF has been monitoring water temperatures. This summer with the low flows and prolonged hot days there were several times when the water was above 70 degrees. There were no reports of "fish kills" but it certainly stresses the fish.
The fish collected this year were fewer in numbers – not sure if this means the numbers are declining or that the fish had moved deeper or into areas not accessible by the sampling raft which moves right along and gets only one pass over a promising area.
George did quote one factoid which most of us were not aware of – based on data on 2-8 year old fish collected below the Martinsville Dam a fish we see today has a 43% annual morality rate. In layman's language that means 100 fish today will only number 57 next year, 32.5 the following year and 18.5 the next and so on. No wonder fish lay thousands of eggs when they spawn or the hatchery stocks thousands of fingerlings annually.
No one knows for sure what the prolonged flows and increased sediment has done to the fishery but George is optimistic – next year's samples should prove interesting. The Smith River has a high density of Brown Trout and is rightfully considered a "Jewel" in the Virginia inventory of trout fishing rivers.
Philpott Operations Manager Chris Powell gave us an update on repairs being done at the dam. They have recently resumed a weekday generation schedule with one turbine. The other turbine was damaged beyond repair and will eventually be replaced with new technology – but that is several years down the road. With a single turbine we should anticipate longer periods of generation to utilize the water at 650 -700 cfs vs. the previous two turbines at 1400 cfs. The one remaining turbine must be manually switched on/off vs. the previous remote switching. Mr. Powell stated Philpott is what is known in the industry as a "peak power facility" and Dominion Power, the current purchaser tries to maximize the value of each gallon of water which goes through the turbine. With the prolonged Monday through Friday generation and manual on/off switching requirement, there are currently no plans for weekend generation – this topic may be revisited next summer to keep water temperatures within tolerance for the fishery.