Date of Award
Master of Science
Wildlife and Fisheries Science
Richard J. Strange
Arnold Saxton, Mark Fly
The Tellico and North Rivers, located in Tennessee's Cherokee National Forest, represent a heavily stocked trout stream with wild rainbow (Oncorhynchus mykiss), and brown trout (Salmo trutta) present, and a purely wild trout stream. Tellico River receives between 60,000 and 100,000 catchable rainbow trout from late March to early September of each year. It is open for fishing under general Tennessee trout regulations. The North River has received no stocked trout of catchable size in the last decade. It is open for fishing under special trout regulations. This study was implemented to compare pressure, catch, harvest, fishing methods, and distance traveled between the two rivers, and determine the return to creel for stocked trout.
A roving creel survey of both rivers was conducted during the 1995 and 1996 stocking seasons. Sample areas of 6.44 kilometers (km) in length were selected for each river. There were 1036 angler interviews conducted over 59 creel periods for the Tellico River, and 154 angler interviews conducted over 62 creel periods for the North River. Within the Tellico River sample area, fishermen averaged 28,824 angler-hours per season. North River fishermen averaged 3,168 angler-hours. Tellico anglers caught 20,299 stocked trout, and 15,355 wild trout per season. North anglers caught 4,658 wild trout per season. The release rate was 95% for Tellico River wild trout, 8% for stocked trout, and 96% for North River wild trout. Catch per unit effort was 1.24 for the Tellico, 1.47 for the North. Widely varying fishing methods were used on the two rivers.
Harvested wild trout for the Tellico River sample area average 768, and accounted for a 12% harvest induced mortality of wild trout greater than 90 millimeters in length. Total angler induced mortality for Tellico River wild trout greater than 90 mm is estimated to be from 12 to 20%. The 186 wild trout harvested from North River accounted for a 5% harvest induced mortality of wild trout greater than 90 mm. Total angler induced mortality for North River wild trout greater than 90 mm is estimated to be from 5 to 10%. Tellico River anglers harvested 18,675 of 19,591 stocked trout per season from the sample area for a 95% return rate. Monroe county anglers were the most numerous, with local anglers (those having traveled 80 km or less) accounting for 40% of all fishermen on both rivers. Less than 15% of anglers on either river were non-residents of Tennessee.
Bates, Brian Neal, "A creel survey of the Tellico and North Rivers : comparisons between a stocked and a wild trout stream in Tennessee. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 1997.