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Big changes proposed for how we manage the Smith River fishery

Started by Al, February 23, 2010, 08:54:45 AM

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bugman

Darrin and others – can you explain why responses like Brian's are going unpublished?  And which rags have failed to publish?  Many thanks.

Al

Quote from: bugman on September 01, 2010, 08:15:21 AM
Darrin and others – can you explain why responses like Brian's are going unpublished?  And which rags have failed to publish?  Many thanks.

I can't speak for Brian's letter other then it may have been too long or the newspaper may have a policy of not publishing rebuttals to other letters - hopefully they will at least get back to him and perhaps publish an edited version.

Here is letter I sent to Martinsville Bulletin late last evening - hopefully it will make it to print within next day or so.  I also sent it to Bill Cochran's online column in Roanoke Times. He said it will run on Thursday. I am out of here Thursday morning heading for about two weeks in Alaska - If a Griz or Sarah Palin don't get me I will return with some photos and a report



In favor of Smith River trout proposal

I've been fishing the Smith for about 17 years.  I'm a North Carolina resident but fell in love with the river and purchased a "get-away" place in Fieldale so I pay local taxes. I've also been involved with the VA Tech Study and many subsequent DGIF samplings of the river and until recently ran a guide service which gave me a vested interest in the health of the river. 

No matter how you look at it the Smith is not living up to its potential. We will likely never see a return to the day when 8-10 pound brown trout were common but we should not be content to catch 5-8 inch fish when studies and surveys have shown that a little tweaking of the regulations would move them to the 12-16 inch range. 

It's much like deer hunters complaining about never seeing a good buck.  A  4-6 point will never grow to a 8-10 point if he is killed when he is young.  Same goes for fish - if they are placed on a stringer when they are 9-10 inches long, which is where most top out now, they will never make it to 16 inches.

We have a two tier fishery. We have a very liberal stocking of rainbow trout and are fortunate that brown trout are able to spawn in the Smith despite serious environmental challenges. Nothing in the proposed regulation changes the way rainbow trout are regulated.  Rainbows are considered "put and take" and are intended for those who desire to take a few home for the skillet - even I do that from time to time. The browns are what draw tourism dollars to the river. When I ran a guide service I put 30-40 "Heads on beds" annually.  In addition to motel rooms these folks also purchased meals, gasoline and various items from local merchants. They loved catching lots of small fish but they also remarked that it was too bad the fish were not able to grow larger. The proposed regulation change will help them grow.

I can't close without saying that I have seen a lot of positive changes in the past 17 years.  When I first came to the area I received the impression the locals did not care about the river. While the economy was good and the plants were still running I think that was true.  In recent years there has been a big change.  Who would have thought that we would see the birth of such organization as the Friends of Philpott, Dan River Basin Association, Rivers and Trails and numerous paddling clubs. Most of these are centered around the river and as a fisherman I welcome them. The more folks who love the river the better it will become for us all.

Al Kittredge





troutrus

There are definitely at least two user groups and thus at least two sides to this issue. Though I'm excited to see efforts being made to try to improve the fishery, I think that Mr. Williams' letter is rather condescending to those that choose to harvest fish within the laws.
From his letter:
"The letter also states:  "The area south of Fieldale is suited to them and where I have caught Brownies in the 14- to 20-inch range."
I wonder how many of these were released to become breeding stock to produce larger fish ?  It sounds like any fish bigger than 7 inches is going home to this perosns table." 

Sheer speculation on the part of Mr. Williams. And even if Lane is keeping fish within the law, what's wrong with that?

"Not every trout fishermen wants to catch stocked trout. Currently, the DGIF post the stocking schedule and by the second day after stocking, most of the fish are gone due to the "hawks" that follow the stocking trucks to the river...that's real sportsman like now isn't it?"
I didn't realize that most of the fish were gone by the second day after stocking, but even if they are, as long as anglers are removing stockers within the guidelines of the law, why attack them?


"All stakeholders must be taken into account when making decisions regarding water usage, water quality, fisheries and other forms of recreation, and the Smith can be  an economic engine for the recovery of a severely depressed region".

Exactly!! Keep in mind that Lane and others in his user group are major stakeholders and as such, their input should be valued to the same degree as those of us who might choose to use a fly rod and release all fish that we catch. Though the economic value of the fishery can be important when seeking funds for a project, that angle doesn't go far when used on the average Joe that's just out for recreation and possibly a meal for the table. Understandably, some of you here are in a position to gain from such economic impact, but you might be surprised at the number of folks that are happy with the fishery the way it is because they feel that dramatic improvement would create over-crowded conditions.

I'm sure a number of you here have met Lane. He's a nice guy that enjoys his fishing just like most on these boards. I think his comments regarding flyfishers from NC probably come from folks that attempt to proselytize their fishing philosophy on him and others. How many here have talked to bait fishermen about how it's OK to keep the stocked Rainbows, but wild Browns should be released?

Try to keep in mind that while some here want to believe it, the fly rod does not make you smarter or in any way better than the guy using the spinning rod and worm or power bait.

22midge

just a thought and nothing to do with this post but I wonder how .....a few years ago ......when Basset was one of the best and widely valued furniture makers around the world.How many said lets just leave it like it is we are satisfied and dont want change.
never let a day go by without telling your children how special they are----make a child smile today and gain a friend for life

Al

I see that Trout's is stirring the pot again :o  - I'll rise to the bait (Set the hook Bob!)

Agree that there are two fishermen constituencies. No way that you are going to make everyone happy but DGIF is trying for a compromise which gives both sides something. There are also other groups who use the river and most recently the entire community, even those that do not directly use the river, are starting to reap the benefits of recreational tourism.

I am terrible with names but most likely if I saw Lane I would recognize him - them again, maybe not. He says he is a member of TU but I can't locate him on my roster. What's important is that he appears to love the river and I applaud that. I just wish he had joined us two weeks ago when we cleaned up a section of the river. I maintained the sign up sheet and he was not on it - for that matter, neither were you Trout's b';.

Were you the two guys who shook your heads and continued to fish as we busted our butts to clean up the area near the Bassett Historical Society?

bugman

Al, your below statement doesn't jive with the proposed new regs, does it?  I thought the idea was to creel more of those 9" fish.  Am I missing something?  I want the new regs to work.

"It's much like deer hunters complaining about never seeing a good buck.  A  4-6 point will never grow to a 8-10 point if he is killed when he is young.  Same goes for fish - if they are placed on a stringer when they are 9-10 inches long, which is where most top out now, they will never make it to 16 inches."

troutrus

Al,
Sorry that everyone who has an opinion different from you is considered to be "stirring the pot". Is this a discussion board or Al's board? Probably the same kind of attitude that has gained the North Carolina fly fishermen the reputation they have with some of the Smith locals. Sorry I couldn't make the clean up, but I had other committments.
Hope you have a nice trip to AK, and look forward to your reports.

Good fishing!
Bob

flatlander

Yeah, I'm lost too.  I thought one of the problems was too many small fish competing for finite food sources.

I've been following these threads with interest, and I applaud all the work you guys are putting into the river. 

5xTippett

"It's much like deer hunters complaining about never seeing a good buck.  A  4-6 point will never grow to a 8-10 point if he is killed when he is young.  Same goes for fish - if they are placed on a stringer when they are 9-10 inches long, which is where most top out now, they will never make"  Bugman's quote of Al's post----- I swore up and down I wasn't going to get into this thread, but what the heck.  Bug, you and Malcolm are right.   The problem is the river is overpopulated with too many small fish for the amount of food.  The purpose of the new proposed regulations is to get people to harvest some smaller ones ( 8 to 9 inches) to relieve some stress on the remaining fish and get the river into some sort of a normal carrying capacity.  There is only so much poundage you can get for the amount of food and water.  The idea is to divide the poundage on the Smith by less fish.  The fish who make it to 10 inches or better have proven they are a little tougher than the ordinary fish.  That is why it is being proposed that they be protected.  They have a better chance of gaining in size, especially if they have a little more food to work with.  As far as deer go, it is true you have to let the small bucks walk, but you also have to thin the does out until you have the right amount of deer for the food and habitat.

Al

Bugman - my example of the small bucks and small trout was probably not a good one. You're right, the problem is too little food for the number of fish, so taking the smaller ones out will help. Right now most folks don't place them on a stringer until they get to 9-10 inches. What the proposed reg will do is protect those that make it to 10 inches which, we have been told, is about the stage in a trouts life where they switch over from insects to forage fish for most of their diet. From that point on if there is enough forage (unfortunately there isn't) they could potentially grown to +20 inches in fairly quick fashion. What computer models show is those that do escape the stringer will make it to 14-16 before scumming to natural mortality. 5x just explained it better then I did but I think those with an open mind know what we are trying to say.

Trout's - Nope, not Al's board. Just razzing you a bit and I see that you rose to the bait as well :o. All opinions and comment welcome. I will paraphrase a bit of what PeeWee alluded to in his recent post - "If we leave things just the way they are", the river will soon be as dead as many of the small towns that surround it.

dossphoto

Quote from: bugman on September 01, 2010, 08:15:21 AM
Darrin and others – can you explain why responses like Brian's are going unpublished?  And which rags have failed to publish?  Many thanks.

Next time you are over here on the Smith, We'll drink a cold one and I'll fill you in on the politics of the area. ::)

22midge

guess the North Carolina group is not paying......  I mean voting for the right ones.Hey doss I dont drink but would pay for the round to hear this !!!!  /"\ /"\ /"\ /"\
never let a day go by without telling your children how special they are----make a child smile today and gain a friend for life

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