After weeks of sampling streams in the park, I couldn’t help but notice that diversity was significantly lacking. Many of our sample sites yielded only brook trout. Of course I’m not complaining about this, given how beautiful and unique these fish are, but this is a simple observation I’d like to talk on. One thing I’ve learned since my start in the Great Smoky Mountains is that brook trout can access higher elevations than any other fish species in the park!
Given their ability to access higher elevations (>4,000 feet), brook trout have been able to avoid competition with non-native rainbow trout by migrating up seemingly impassible barriers that competitors can’t access. This has resulted in small headwater streams with only brook trout inhabiting them!