Little Tennessee River Investigation

A cooperative fishery survey of the terminal 33 miles of the Little Tennessee River, a tailwater environment, was made using an unequal probability sampling creel census and limited population sampling. From June 1964 to June 1965, 29,349 anglers caught 64,714 fish at a rate of 0.75 fish per-angler-hour, or 2.2 fish per-angler-day. Of all anglers, 56% were successful, 91% lived within 40 miles of the stream, and the average expense per-trip was $2.41. The catch was 70.5% trout, 16.3% sauger, and 13.2% other species. All trout and 83% of all fish were caught in the upper half (14 miles) of the river. The catch in the lower half was 80% sauger. Various sizes and species of marked trout were stocked at different times to determine best management methods. Returns from catchable-sized brown trout were slow but extended. Catchable rainbow returns ranged from 78 to 96%. Early spring stocking gave best distribution of fish to more anglers. Summer stocking gave the highest, most rapid returns. Later stocking resulted in inefficient harvesting. Returns from all groups of catchable rainbows were too rapid to realize significant growth. Brown trout growth was apparently no better than rainbow. Fingerling trout stocked in very early spring gave better survival and growth than fingerlings stocked later, which apparently suffered severe predation by other fish species. Population sampling by electrofishing, netting, and rotenone treatments revealed the species composition, distribution, and certain implications of predation or interaction of other species on trout.

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