Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency biologists had to break a layer of ice to stock about 3,000 rainbow trout in TVA’s Lake Junior on Wednesday. The fish were provided by the federal Dale Hollow Fish Hatchery which is funded in part by fishermen’s license dollars in addition to funding from TWRA, TVA, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources.
Lake Junior is just off of Amnicola Highway on the Chickamauga Dam Reservation near Hwy. 153. However anglers are not allowed to fish Lake Junior until Friday, Jan. 5. TVA regulations only allow fishing there on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Travis Scott, TWRA Region III Rivers and Streams Manager, said the cold temperatures and continued ice will make fishing difficult and potentially hazardous until the lake thaws.
“Definitely,” said Scott. “There is ice on the lake right now but it’s definitely not thick enough to walk on. Even if folks bring a boat of some kind we want people to be careful and have the proper safety equipment and life jackets. Remember the risk of hypothermia. If you fall in water this cold it wouldn’t take long [to kill you].”
The fish stocked Wednesday were between nine and 12 inches long. As an added bonus, however, Scott says they plan to add a few extra large trout on Thursday.
“We’re going to bring some of our brood fish from the Tellico Hatchery… we call them Tellico Trophies… we’re going to bring about ten of those tomorrow and put in here. They’ll weigh between three and five pounds,” said Scott. “There’s also a couple of albino trout that went in today. That’s always a special bonus for someone to catch one of those.”
The winter trout stocking program in Tennessee began 16 years ago. Trout thrive in cold water and cannot survive warmer water. If the Lake Junior trout aren’t all caught by anglers, chances are they won’t survive the summer water temperatures in Lake Junior. Trout start to stress and die when water temperatures reach 70 degrees.
Scott said there will be a second stocking of about 3,000 more trout in Lake Junior on February 7.
The daily creel limit is seven, but there is no size limit. Anglers are reminded that a trout license is required in addition to a regular fishing license. According to TWRA, more than 256,000 anglers are estimated to fish for trout in Tennessee and Georgia waters each year, spending about $73 for every $1 invested in the hatchery program and producing an economic impact of about $45 million.
TWRA is also stocking the lake at the Athens (Tenn.) Recreational Area this week. See the stocking schedules for other places in Tennessee here.