Drought Affecting Fish Population in East Tennessee

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Blount County (WVLT) - This year's drought conditions are having an effect on the trout population in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Officials say it's killing off larger fish.

But as Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb reports, it is a problem that nature can fix.

David Busick is sticking to sightseeing.

He says there's one thing he wanted to do when he got to the Smokies from his Orlando, Florida home... trout fish.

"We had planned to just do one day. We bought a one-day license, so that's what we came for," said Busick.

But this year's drought seems to have had an impact on the trout population.

"What we found actually is the numbers of fish per mile were actually a little better than average this year. What we didn't see is bigger fish," said Bob Miller, spokesman for the National Park.

And that's exactly what Busick says was his experience for his Monday fishing trip.

"We got bites and I caught two trout that size, honest to God. And one that was eating the worm. I didn't even get him on my hook," said Busick.

National park officials say the drought creates specific problems for trout, starting with lower oxygen levels.

"Not only is the water really low, which means pretty low food supply, but also it's warm and that stresses the fish out and big fish don't stand up to stress as well as the younger ones do," said Miller.

But, he says it's part of nature and nature can redeem itself.

"If we saw natural or normal water conditions again this fall, we'd be back at a normal size distribution in about two years," said Miller

But, sometimes when it comes to fishing it's all in who you ask.

Kevin Coughlin is a professional guide with the Smoky Mountain Angler.

He says there are big fish and you just have to change your tactics like going to very light line.

"You have to do that because the water visibility is good and the fish can just see the line," said Coughlin.

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