Little Stony Creek Chapter President Mark Leonard grew up fishing Little Stony Creek and High Knob’s Mountain Fork with his dad. However, after returning to Wise County in 2007 after a 25- year absence, he found the two streams virtually dead.
Determined to restore the fisheries, he and the other chapter members started working in 2010 with the local VDGIF fish biologists to restock both streams. It has been very labor intensive, as thousands of trout fingerlings had to be carried into the Jefferson National Forest in backpacks.
According to Mark, the restocking effort was kept relatively quiet to prevent overfishing and to allow the fish to get established. Now that the stocking appears to have been successful, both streams were listed as special regulation catch-and-release trout streams effective January 1, 2015. VDGIF will continue to monitor the steams to see if natural reproduction sustains the populations or if additional restocking may be necessary.
Based on stream temperatures, Little Stony was stocked with brown trout and Mountain Fork with brook trout. The streams have been electroshocked annually by VDGIF biologists and results have been very promising. Little Stony has turned up some 16-18” browns while High Knob has brookies up to 10”.
The Little Stony Chapter has also been working with the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority to create a fishing guide and map for the seven southwestern counties served by the Authority. The guide will include streams, rivers, and lakes, with the hope of marketing the area as a fishing destination.