Sunday, March 2, 2014

TROUT AT LAST

Before I talk about trout, I wanted to throw up the second video portraying chorus frogs screaming out their unified joy in the most irritating audible racket imaginable.  You might remember the video I took of the frogs, or rather the sounds of the frogs when I visited the natural grass farm over in Greenback.  This batch of frogs is alongside the river.  Its an amazing occurrence when you think about it.

I have been back on the tailrace since Saturday and, as usual, I had to check on mom eagle.
I had a sudden streak of anger when I witnessed a car parked very near the bald eagle's tree and I sped closer in my truck.
The eagle's tree is the tall tree closest to the center of the picture.  Look closely and you can see the nest in the center of the tree.
I didn't include the parked car in any photos as this isn't the forum to be accusatory toward any individual about anything.  I threw the binoculars to my eyes and the female eagle was cocking her head left, right and kept it in constant movement.  She was fighting her natural instinct to flee the nest and staying true to her maternal instincts to remain with her babies.  In short she was stressed out.  I moved closer and saw the objects of her distress.  There on the side of the hill stood two women with cameras jabbering loudly and pointing at the nest.  They were only about thirty feet from the nest tree and driving that eagle nuts.   I waved my hand to them and got their attention and they moved toward me when they saw the lettering on the truck.  I asked them to approach my window and then I politely explained to them that they must not approach that eagle's nest so closely.  Actually 500 feet is about the limit.  I further stated that I watched the eagle display extreme nervous activity at their presence and if they would stay much longer the eagle could abandon the nest, young babies and simply not return at all.  They were shocked.  I asked them where they were from and they replied Knoxville.  Tell ya anything?  I further recommended they visit web sites related to wildlife and learn more about the critters they are interested in before they plunge into the wilds uninformed.  They were on private property without permission anyway.  Wildlife can't get a break.  This ain't Cades Cove, which is the Pigeon Forge of the Smokys where wildlife receive no respect from the car enclosed tourists with cameras and screaming children who want to pet the wild animals.  Oh well. 
Today was about 65 degrees, at last, and there were fishermen all over the place to talk to.  All sorts of craft could be seen on the fast river with the occasional angler standing on the shoreline.  I was really interested in talking to someone about trout. Trout are really the only fish I personally liked to fish for, when I used to fly fish.  I walked down to a guy fishing on the shoreline of the tailrace just below the dam and asked him if he had any luck.  Look what he showed me.  Whew!
Look at the size of these beauties.  One of the larger fish is 22 inches and the other 20.5 inches long.  These are called hold over trout, fish that have survived over winter until the next summer, or maybe even lived over two seasons.  It's exciting to see these large fish as they prove out a very successful TWRA trout stocking effort in this tailrace.
Again, these are all stocked trout as natural trout  production has been long halted with the advent of the great dams.  The bottom release dams emit cold water and evidently the temperatures are good enough to get these cold water fish through the summer and to the colder water of winter.
These are super trout!  TWRA stocks this tailrace annually with fingerlings and many have grown into hogs over the years.  I'll do a piece on trout soon, I think and explain the difference between rainbow trout, brown trout and native trout.  Those are the predominant species in the East. There is a golden trout that, I believe, can still be found in some of the northern streams.
 IF WOOD COULD TALK!