TWRA Breaks Ice to Stock Lake Junior with Trout

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(l-r) TWRA fisheries biologists Travis Scott and Scotty Webb keep close watch as 3,000 rainbow trout are released into TVA’s frozen Lake Junior on Wednesday. (Photo: Richard Simms)

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.

Trout thrive in cold water environments. In fact they begin to stress and die when water temperatures reach 70 degrees and above. TWRA hopes and expects anglers to catch all of the 6,000 trout stocked in Lake Junior this week and in February. They say any that are not caught likely will not survive the summer. (Photo: Richard Simms)

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.

TWRA fisheries biologists had to break away a layer of ice on TVA’s Lake Junior before they could release 3,000 trout on Wednesday. (Photo: Richard Simms)

“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 trout released into Lake Junior come from the Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery in Celina, Tenn. Funding for the hatchery comes from fishermen’s license dollars in addition to funding from TWRA, TVA, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources. (Photo: Richard Simms)

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.

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