POLK COUNTY, Tenn. – The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency announced Tuesday that they have stocked muskellunge in Parksville Lake in Polk County, Tenn. Biologists stocked 600 13-inch musky in the lake back in October.
“If we could have gotten them we would have done this a year or two ago but musky fingerlings are hard to come by,” said Region III Fisheries Biologist Mike Jolley. “When Kentucky called us and said they had these fish available we had to do it right then.”
Kentucky muskies are the native sub-species that once occurred naturally throughout tributaries of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. Chattanooga-area anglers have reported muskellunge catches from North Chickamauga Creek decades ago.
Mark Thurman, TWRA Region III Fisheries Program Manager said, “When you look at the historical records it’s likely that musky were once common throughout much of East Tennessee.”
Other musky restoration efforts in Tennessee have been highly successful. The Collins River and Great Falls Reservoir near McMinnville are favorite destinations for musky fishermen. And in recent years anglers have been catching huge musky from Melton Hill Reservoir near Knoxville, including a new state record taken by Stephen Paul March 2, 2017 that weighed 43 lbs. 14 oz.
Musky in Parksville Reservoir will be managed under the statewide regulation of one fish per day creel limit and a 36-inch minimum length limit. Jolley said the fingerlings should reach legal size in at least six years, but it could be less.
He said musky tend to target sucker and shad species as food, which are available in Parksville as well as good habitat such as laydowns and woody debris. Parksville is a relatively small lake of 1,930 acres and located within the Cherokee National Forest.
Thurman said it is likely that the first muskies caught will be incidental catches by bass anglers. But for anglers who want to target the fish when they grow larger, “Musky fishermen in Dale Hollow troll a lot. People that fish Great Falls Reservoir fish structure, throwing big shiny baits at downed trees. I think you’ll see some of both at Parksville.”
Jolley said TWRA has been working hard to improve fishing in Parksville, including stocking of black-nose crappie, walleye, redear sunfish, bluegill and trout in recent years. Of course the lake has also been the subject of controversy. Jolley and other biologists have long been concerned about unsanctioned introductions of the non-native fish Alabama spotted bass, although many anglers enjoy fishing for them and the lake has produced the current state record Alabama spotted bass.
Jolly expects some anglers to voice concerns that musky will impact other game fish; but he says that hasn’t been the case in other waters. He said Dale Hollow Reservoir is just one great example. Musky have been present there since the 1950’s, yet there is great fishing for smallmouth and largemouth bass, walleye and crappie.
Jolley said the TWRA Region 3 fisheries crews will be monitoring Parksville Lake closely and tracking the progress of this restoration project.
“We’ve seen the impact [of musky] on the Collins River and other places in a positive way. We hope that will be the case on Parksville,” said Jolley. “But if things don’t look like they’re working … we’ve abandoned other stocking projects before.”
MUSKY FISHING ON THE COLLINS RIVER