The Only Native Trout

Composite of two photographs of southern Appalachian brook trout.
A composite of two photographs of southern Appalachian brook trout swimming under water. The distinct tri-color fin pattern is obvious in this photo (left). This brook trout has taken hold of a fly and is being brought in by an angler (right).

Southern Appalachian brook trout (left): Photo courtesy of Bill Lemke. Southern Appalachian brook trout hooked on anglers fly (right): Photo courtesy of Tim Doyle.


Good Job!

There is only one native (indigenous) trout species within the park – the southern Appalachian brook trout. The park has had an active and successful brook trout restoration program since 1987. To date, Great Smoky Mountains fisheries staff have re-established nine streams (17 miles) to native brook trout. Great Smoky Mountains fisheries staff have successfully restored streams in order to meet one of their many objectives: “to provide opportunities for anglers to once again fish for brook trout.” Currently there are only three streams, Sams Creek, Bear Creek, and Indian Flats Prong, which are temporarily closed to fishing to allow their populations to rebuild following recent restoration projects.

Restoration is the act of reinstating the native species to their historic range. In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM-NP) the native brook trout were displaced by the non-native rainbow and brown trout. Restoration at GRSM-NP includes finding areas suitable for re-establishing native species to give them a chance to reclaim some of their lost historic range. Streams must meet three requirements in order to be considered for restoration. The three main requirements for a stream restoration project are: 1) the southern Appalachian brook trout historically inhabited the target stream, 2) the stream contains a natural (waterfall) or cultural barrier (dam) which will prevent re-invasion, and 3) the project is financially and ecologically feasible. Those streams which do not meet these requirements will not be restored and their populations will be managed for those species present. These restoration efforts support the National Park Service’s mission " promote and regulate the use of the...national parks...which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."

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Last updated: April 14, 2015

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