Blue Ridge Fly Fishermans Forum

Fly Fishing Group Activities => Trout Unlimited/Fly Fishing Federation => Topic started by: Woolly Bugger on December 07, 2018, 15:25:03 PM

Title: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2018 Smith River Study
Post by: Woolly Bugger on December 07, 2018, 15:25:03 PM
George Palmer gave us an update on the Smith River Fishery based upon this year's samplings. The more constant flows may be helping growth rates in the upper river, but higher temperatures on the lower fishery have led to a lower catch rate.

Here are all the details,

https://vimeo.com/305103857

and to answer the final question, stay-tuned for next month's Smith River TU meeting where the next presenter will be addressing those issues in detail.

Title: Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2018 Smith River Study
Post by: Al on December 09, 2018, 12:24:57 PM
Thanks for posting this Woolly - makes my job of summing it up much easier.  As he says upper river seems to be doing well. Lower river not so well. Stay tuned.

FYI - Assuming the flows remain constant, ie 750 cfs most of the time, anyone who would like to accompany the DGIF crew as they sample is welcome to do so. I will get a heads up when they plan to sample and post it somewhere here on the board - all you need is your own float, ie a kayak or canoe. Don't worry about a shuttle - we'll figure that out at the ramp.
Title: Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2018 Smith River Study
Post by: Woolly Bugger on December 11, 2018, 16:29:02 PM
here is a PDF of the presentation; slides and notes...

Title: Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2018 Smith River Study
Post by: Mudwall Gatewood 3.0 on December 11, 2018, 17:11:13 PM
From the Summary of Upper SR:  "Appears diets are changing."

Any elucidation from the biologists on this statement?   
Title: Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2018 Smith River Study
Post by: streamereater_101691 on December 11, 2018, 18:32:12 PM
Pulled these graphs of both last year and this years summer temps and flow. Interestingly enough the temps at the dam were lower this year until the hurricane hit and mixed the lake water. The exact opposite of what I would of thought since the sluice gate is much lower than the generator intake. Crazy that consistent 300-350cfs flows kept basset below 66 degrees all summer last year and pulses of(at lower temperature) 750cfs let the gauge top 70 degrees.  So I did more investigating. Surprisingly, 2014 generation showed similar temps with 2 generators running as did 2017 with consistent sluicing. I would of liked to heard george's opinion given his years of findings on the smith river trout condition. Understanding these graphs probably show no statistical significant evidence, I'm still reminded we are dealing with a man made artificial fishery.

I urge someone to find another 30+ mile tailwater with the smith size drainage with our climate. Seems to be a double edge sword. A healthy, natural reproducing tailwater above martinsville at ~650cfs, or bigger fish down low at ~1500cfs with the upper river fish not having enough food as its been ever since walleye were introduced into the lake.

Maybe the corps would sluice some during the summer to keep temps down in the lower river if the guide curve allows?..food for thought..

Nevertheless I'm excited to see what happens to the upper river the next few years at 650cfs. Is it too early to pray for a variable speed turbine?

Philpott Gauge
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Bassett Gauge

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2014 was normal generation

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Title: Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2018 Smith River Study
Post by: Dougfish on December 11, 2018, 18:49:15 PM
The Smith tailwater is an anomaly. 30 miles of trout.
The Jackson, 18 miles.
South Holston, 14 miles.
Watuga, 17 miles.
All have there individual challenges. All artificial.
Is there a longer tailwater trout fishery in the east?
Title: Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2018 Smith River Study
Post by: Mudwall Gatewood 3.0 on December 11, 2018, 21:05:08 PM
Quote from: Dougfish on December 11, 2018, 18:49:15 PM
The Smith tailwater is an anomaly. 30 miles of trout.
The Jackson, 18 miles.
South Holston, 14 miles.
Watuga, 17 miles.
All have there individual challenges. All artificial.
Is there a longer tailwater trout fishery in the east?


West Branch Delaware with ~ 12 miles, added to ~ 30 miles of East Branch tailwater, then add main Delaware's ~30 miles ------ over 70 miles of potential artificial trout waters.
Longer if summed, I suppose, and if you consider NY the east.
Title: Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2018 Smith River Study
Post by: Dougfish on December 11, 2018, 21:24:40 PM
Considerable, Sir. The Delaware is a beast.
But, lets concentrate on one branch. The drainage of each branch of the Delaware probably dwarfs the rivers I listed. (Where is Ken when you need him?)
And lets consider the Smith is in the warmer Southeast.
The Delaware is in the cooler northeast. 
Lets not confuse the drinking water of NYC for the drinking water of Henry County.
Title: Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2018 Smith River Study
Post by: Mudwall Gatewood 3.0 on December 11, 2018, 21:43:28 PM
What about the Cumberland tailwater in KY?  --- over 70 miles.   All trout water?

Yes Ken, give us some figures.
Title: Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2018 Smith River Study
Post by: Mudwall Gatewood 3.0 on December 12, 2018, 10:58:51 AM
<Upper SR overall condition of brown trout seems much improved and appears diets are changing.>

  This seems like the most enthralling information.  Did I miss some "diet" stuff in the presentation?  Again I will ask - what did the biologist say – did anyone contribute to or question the changing diet statement?  Are there data, even anecdotal evidence, suggesting the shift in diet of the upper fishes?   Surely someone at the meeting asked, or were you tanked-up or exceedingly somber over the lower river news or both, or during the summary were you dreaming, fantasizing of downriver monster browns, cleaning your sink-tips, and tying lures that could be cast on any ultra-light spinning outfit?
Title: Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2018 Smith River Study
Post by: Big J on December 12, 2018, 11:50:04 AM
Quote from: Mudwall Gatewood 3.0 on December 12, 2018, 10:58:51 AM
<Upper SR overall condition of brown trout seems much improved and appears diets are changing.>

  This seems like the most enthralling information.  Did I miss some "diet" stuff in the presentation?  Again I will ask - what did the biologist say – did anyone contribute to or question the changing diet statement?  Are there data, even anecdotal evidence, suggesting the shift in diet of the upper fishes?   Surely someone at the meeting asked, or were you tanked-up or exceedingly somber over the lower river news or both, or during the summary were you dreaming, fantasizing of downriver monster browns, cleaning your sink-tips, and tying lures that could be cast on any ultra-light spinning outfit?

Go fish a brookie stream.
Title: Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2018 Smith River Study
Post by: Big J on December 12, 2018, 12:00:40 PM
Quote from: Mudwall Gatewood 3.0 on August 16, 2015, 11:54:48 AM
I am still searching for those brookie retirement Shangri-Las.  New reaches of familiar streams and new watersheds are paying dividends.   Several small and medium brookies and rainbows lower down made a hot August Sunday morning enjoyable.  Mother Nature's slice of the Allegheny Highlands is providing numerous settings to hide from the Mrs. when we retire.   
Title: Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2018 Smith River Study
Post by: Mudwall Gatewood 3.0 on December 12, 2018, 12:35:02 PM
If Fin was in the audience, I bet he asked about diet.  Doug was drinking/ingesting, Al was napping, the Boss was well-oiled, over-oiled  ----  so, I may never get a response.
   
The synergy of an impending first grandson, the encircling of conservatives whom all have made a Faustian bargain with our chief, the unwelcomed holiday gobbledygook, and a Mrs. begging for a new floor has dampened my resolve.

Thank you J, for opening the wound even more, with the recap of my now unattainable retirement dreams.  Santa does not think you are naughty or nice.  He just thinks you are a peckerwood.   
Title: Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2018 Smith River Study
Post by: Big J on December 12, 2018, 12:49:42 PM
Quote from: Mudwall Gatewood 3.0 on December 12, 2018, 12:35:02 PM

Thank you J, for opening the wound even more, with the recap of my now unattainable retirement dreams.  Santa does not think you are naughty or nice.  He just thinks you are a peckerwood.   

Any time pal!
Title: Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2018 Smith River Study
Post by: Fin on December 12, 2018, 13:08:10 PM
QuoteDid I miss some "diet" stuff in the presentation?

I don't think I've met a retiree yet that didn't nap half the day away.  Take a look at the 34 minute mark of the presentation.  Diet discussion.  You must have drifted off for a minute.  My take away is that the crawfish seem to be doing better (higher temps?).  Many of the browns sacrificed in the name of science had crawfish in their gut.  This is a big change from the past.  Still not many baitfish showing up though.  If I remember correctly, aquatic critters #1 food source, #2, neck and neck were terrestrials and crawfish.  Sound right Dougy? 
Title: Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2018 Smith River Study
Post by: Mudwall Gatewood 3.0 on December 12, 2018, 13:38:00 PM
Quote from: Fin on December 12, 2018, 13:08:10 PM
QuoteDid I miss some "diet" stuff in the presentation?

I don't think I've met a retiree yet that didn't nap half the day away.  Take a look at the 34 minute mark of the presentation.  Diet discussion.  You must have drifted off for a minute.  My take away is that the crawfish seem to be doing better (higher temps?).  Many of the browns sacrificed in the name of science had crawfish in their gut.  This is a big change from the past.  Still not many baitfish showing up though.  If I remember correctly, aquatic critters #1 food source, #2, neck and neck were terrestrials and crawfish.  Sound right Dougy?

My bad, I did not listen to the 57+ minute presentations; I only looked at the ppt.   I just listened to the 34+ minute mark discussing diet.   Thank you Fin! 
Title: Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2018 Smith River Study
Post by: Woolly Bugger on December 12, 2018, 18:23:21 PM

Quote from: Mudwall Gatewood 3.0 on December 12, 2018, 13:38:00 PMMy bad, I did not listen to the 57+ minute presentations; I only looked at the ppt.




like you got anything better to do....
Title: Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2018 Smith River Study
Post by: Dougfish on December 12, 2018, 20:02:00 PM
My takeaway was you need to tie up up some articulated hivis parachute tungsten pmd stonecray cdc flymphs. Size 8-20.

Or keep napping.

Sent from my LG-US998 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2018 Smith River Study
Post by: Al on December 12, 2018, 22:52:58 PM
I wasn't napping and I was there during all but one of the samples and of course if you looked closely at the slides you can see when they did the stomach samples it took place at my place. (My wife is still wondering how I caught all those trout I brought home)

My impression was about the same as explained in detail by George Palmer - Upper river is doing fine with the constant flows and even with only one turbine the water is remaining cool enough. The lower river is a different story - one turbine is not pushing enough cold water downstream. Combine that with unusually warm days and the fish down there are in an almost constant state of stress. We did not shock up as many in the lower river as in the past and those we did collect were not as fat.

Mudwall mentioned lack of forage fish noted in the stomachs - true but from talking to the DGIF crew that may have been becasue small bait fish are digested much faster than snails and crawfish. I know the ones we could identify were looking more like a blob of nothing than a bait fish.

One thing for sure - with only one turbine the periods of generation are almost 24/7 that makes for poor wading. From what I have heard via COE that is not going to change anytime soon.  May be time for some of you guys to invest in a raft.
Title: Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2018 Smith River Study
Post by: Onslow on December 13, 2018, 06:00:02 AM
Regarding the noted warmer temps on the lower river, the most obvious culprit after doing a little comp research are the tribs entering the river below the dam.  September 2018 was very wet, and very warm.  There were three major events this past Fall where flows in the area were between 10-80 cfs per sq. mile.  It is worth noting that the below dam watershed at Eggleston Falls is around 200 sq. miles which is almost as much as the river above the Philpott dam. 

If the Meadow River in WV can put an end to the trout fishery in the Upper Gauley canyon in WV due to the influx of warm water, then the drainage below Philpott can surely do the same, particularly if experiencing flows 3x-5x higher than normal at the same time record September warmth is being experienced.  It should also be noted that the warmest discharges from Philpott occur in late September.  I dare say the changes in the upper river are correlation, and are completely unrelated to the issues at the lower river.

Browns aren't walleye or flatheads, and are probably not fond of feeding in carrot soup colored waters at 5000 cfs on the Smith.  I have serious doubts that the lack of weight observed has anything to do with the amount of forage available on the lower river, but has more to do with the lack of access of forage due to muddy, warm, and high water.