Possessing more than 2,100 miles of streams, the Great Smoky Mountains are the home to 67 different fish species that make up 12 different families including darters, shiners, suckers, bass, lampreys and trout. Even though there is over 2,100 miles of water within the park, only an estimated 800 miles accommodate the fish.
The only native fish species to the Smokies is the brook trout, even though rainbow and brown trout have been stocked in the park’s streams and can be found in bigger streams that are under 3,000 feet high. Since the 1900s an estimated 75% of the native brook trout have been removed from the park due to the once booming logging industry. Now, the more prevalent fish specifies is the rainbow trout as they produce offspring and grow at a much faster rate. Because of the large decrease in brook trout, this species can only be seen in approximately 133 miles of the streams. In 1986, park rangers started to restore the brook trout population and have increased the species radius to an addition 14.6 miles.
The Great Smoky Mountains contain four species of fish that are currently protected under federal regulation. Found in the lower mountain levels, visitors can see the spotfin chub, smoky madtom, duskytail darter and the yellowfin madtom in the lower Abrams Creek. Because of the large amounts of both safe and endangered fish species, the park employs a fishery staff that watches the fish population at both high and low mountain levels. Interesting, park studies show that fisherman basically have no role in the park’s overall fish population.