December Rainbows in the Park
As I wrote about in a previous post, The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency had stoked rainbow trout into Byrd Lake at Cumberland Mountain State Park and I spent the past weekend fishing near the old dam for these amazing and beautiful fish. One of the first things that I realized on day one of my attempt to master the fly rod was that I was fishing for stocked trout and it was soon apparent that the techniques I was using were for wild trout and there must be some differences for the hand fed rainbows I was angling for. I was told that the stocked specimens are relatively easy to catch by a couple of the local anglers that I talked to. Here are some tips that were shared with me.
Fishing at Cumberland Mountain State Park is always fun, the park is beautiful and best of all very close to mu Home in Crossville, Tennessee. The Byrd Creek Dam, built in 1930?s ? 40?s, which formed Byrd Lake, is the largest masonry structure ever built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It was built to provide a source of recreation for the 250 people of the Homestead community, which was a project to offer jobs to the region by the federal government when the area was virtually uninhabited, but has since became the Golf Capitol of Tennessee. With the areas many lakes Byrd lake is the only one that is stocked each year with rainbow trout. I learned a lot about these slipperly little guys over the weekend. Here are some of the local tips as well as some of my own.
Hook size was the first factor to consider, hooks from size 8 ? 10 worked very well and hooks any larger made it difficult to get a hook set. The hatchery raised fish being accustomed to timed feedings of a significantly different diet than that of their wild relatives makes the presence of humans not as influential and allows artificial trout baits such as spinners and flies to be more effective than they are with their wily wild trout?s carful eyes. I have learned the last year, that fishing with the current to make bait appear natural, but I was soon corrected on this by some of the local veteran trout anglers accustomed to fishing for stocked trout. They explained that this did not seem to make a difference with the stocked trout as it does with wild trout.
Although I struggled with the fly rod casting a nymph in the cold December wind, I observed other local anglers rigging what they called bottom rigs with two small hooks. This rig allowed bottom fishing with colorful manufactured baits. The anglers would change from one color to the other every so often if they were not catching trout The experienced anglers explained that stocked trout are a lot less particular than wild trout. Some anglers were actually using colored marshmallows on the bottom rigs, while other anglers were using whole kernel corn in this same manner or even suspended beneath a bobber.
Fishing from the west bank at the dam and casting into the wind, I quickly had caught and released a limit. It is going to be fun this winter fishing for these beautiful fish. The TWRA stocked only 3000 fish which is less than half of the trout usually stocked. With budget issues and the future of the federal hatcheries undecided, once the trout are gone due to the anglers harvesting them, or the warm water temperatures in this spring, this year could be the very last time anyone will fish for trout in my town.
At this time the Hatcheries in the South Eastern Region of the United States will continue as they have been in past years with some reduction in funding. However the future for 2013 is uncertain. Learn more and how you can help at: //www.tennesseetailwatertrout.com/closing/index.html
Bass anglers: Freshwater game fish hatcheries are in jeopardy of closing as well, please get involved and preserve the future of this great sport.