Posted by Kerry Grissett on January 22, 2004 at 00:33:35:
In Reply to: Re: sauger posted by chuger2 on January 21, 2004 at 23:55:45:
I think I hear where you are coming from, but I would add another perspective to the "debate".
Yes, the fishing pressure is higher than it has ever been on the Tennessee river for all kinds of fish and that is making a difference.
I am not sure if the DCNR and TVA have seriously taken that into consideration. However, since the introduction of nuclear power into this area, the current in the Tennessee river has been much less than consistent and I believe lake level fluctuations, especially during critical times like spawning (except for black bass, the "big" money fish) has taken more of a toll than even most fishermen will admit, let alone TVA or the DCNR.
During the recent TVA survey (ROS - Reservoir Operations Study) concerning the proposed change in how TVA handles the Tennessee river lakes I talked with one TVA person who told me that they, at least for the last 10 years or so, have looked for the water to reach 65 degrees before they even think about stabilizing the levels for the spawn, at least on Wheeler lake.
That essentially leaves out sauger and crappie, which spawn at much lower temperatures, but it is great for the bass and bream.
He also told me that he is trying to get TVA to start "trying" to stabilize the lake levels when the temperatures reach 60 degrees, which will help the crappie, but I am not sure about the sauger. However, I hope his suggestions are taken seriously and implemented!
With the ever increasing need for electricity, I don't see this trend reversing anytime soon. All of the proposed alternatives to the current TVA operations don't seem to me to do much, if anything, to really provide for the fisheries on this river.
Guntersville may be one of the sole survivors in all this. Since it only has a 2 foot draw down and because of this maintains good habitat and relatively stable lake levels, it will also continue to draw more and more pressure from the fishing public and pros.
What is the answer? I would say a great place to start is with consistent current patterns and lake levels, but I really don't know... I am not a marine biologist either. I'm just a guy who lived in North Alabama all my life and observed the Tennessee river and the fish for more than 30 years and personally witnessed the huge decline. I would suggest more folks getting involved enough to understand all the influences which are causing our fisheries to decline and to put pressure on our politicians to do more to protect and preserve them for future generations to enjoy and have a good chance of catching healthy, quality fish. Certainly we have to have electricity and also the industries along the river for economic reasons, but I think the powers that be have ignored a major natural resource (the fisheries) in North Alabama for far too long. The fisheries of the Tennessee river are a big part of the appeal of this area and it will be a shame to see them decline further.
Just my $.02
Good luck and good fishin'
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