Top Outdoors Stories in 2018

While no one keeps official lake records, this 14.53 pound bass Todd Beaty caught Dec. 30 might very well be the second-largest bass ever caught on Chickamauga Lake. (Photo contributed by

2019 has been a busy, compelling year in Outdoors news on Several major stories captured the interest of readers. These are some of the most popular stories based upon the number of readers, counting down from #10. Click on the Headline to read each story.

10 – Winter Trout Stocking Schedule Announced

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has announced its 2018-19 winter trout stocking schedule. TWRA plans to release approximately 90,000 rainbow trout into Tennessee waters beginning in late November through March.

9 – New Survey Confirms Happy Fishermen on Chickamauga Lake

Nearly 100 percent of more than 1,000 fishermen surveyed on Chickamauga Lake in 2017 said they are “satisfied” with the fishing there. To be specific, 60.7 percent are “Satisfied,” 33.5 percent are “Extremely Satisfied” while 5.7 percent are “Somewhat Satisfied.” A measly 0.2 percent were “Somewhat Dissatisfied.”

A survey of more than 1,000 fishermen on Chickamauga Lake in 2017 showed that nearly 100 percent were “Satisfied” with the quality of fishing on the lake. (TWRA graph)

8 – FLW Bass Pro Missing, Competition Cancelled

This story occurred far, far away from the Tennessee Valley. However the tragic story of professional bass angler Nik Kayler, and the compelling survival story of his partner, Bill Kisiah, touched a nerve with every bass angler in the country. At the time of this story the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was heading up a massive search for Kayler. Some had slim hopes he may have actually survived. He did not. It took six days before Kaylor’s body was found floating.

Nik Kayler pictured with his wife.

The official results of an investigation into the accident were released in June. According to a story on Kisiah was making his way across Lake Okeechobee at 7:30 AM in huge waves when the bow of his boat penetrated beneath a large wave. Kayler was thrown out of the boat. Kisiah made a 180-degree turn toward Kayler however his engine shut down and would not restart.

Kayler was trying to deploy his trolling motor when he was thrown from the boat. He made it back in but when he got back to the trolling motor he had completely lost sight of Kayler. Kisiah could never restart his engine and drifted in his flooded boat for 14 hours before washing ashore and being located.

In the conclusion, FWC investigator David Lafoy wrote, “Mr. Kisiah made a good faith effort to find and retrieve Mr. Kayler immediately following the accident. The engine diagnostics confirmed an error occurred that was capable of a complete shut-down, which left only the trolling motor to power the vessel through high wind and waves. The recovered GPS and engine data did not indicate the vessel was operated in a careless of reckless manner. Evidence and information gathered to date does not support probable cause for a criminal violation of Florida State Statutes or U.S Coast Guard Navigation Rules were violated.”

7 – Reelfoot Lake – A World of its Own

This story and video about a recent duck hunt on Tennessee’s famous Reelfoot Lake captured the interest of area waterfowlers and others.

6 – Georgia Legislature Considers Deer Baiting Law

Deer baiting is always a controversial topic. In some states, like Tennessee, it is completely illegal. While in other states it is an accepted and standard practice for deer hunters. This story about the Georgia Legislature considering a law that would legalize deer baiting for hunters in North Georgia captured lots of interest. The measure did ultimately pass for deer hunters on Georgia private lands only. The Georgia Legislature is considering a law that would legalize deer baiting for hunters in North Georgia.

5 – Tennessee Deer Season Extended in CWD ‘High Risk’ Zone

The Tennessee Fish & Wildlife Commission, the governing body over hunting & fishing regulations in Tennessee, enacted emergency regulations – including an extended hunting season – following the detection of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Hardeman and Fayette counties, just east of Memphis. Ten deer in those two counties have been confirmed as positive with CWD. In addition, three more deer have tested preliminarily positive from the same counties.

4 – Tenn. Senator Studies New Law to Manage Aquatic Vegetation on Area Lake

Senator Mike Bell (R, TN Dist. 9) recently convened a sub-committee specifically to hold hearings to study and address the aquatic vegetation issue on area lakes. Experts on both sides of the controversial issue testified, as outlined in this story which generated several Comments by readers.

3 – Major Shake-up in Bass Tournament World

Fans of professional bass fishing were buzzing with the announcement of a huge expansion of the Major League Fishing (MLF) circuit. Insiders say the expansion of the new circuit will put big pressure on the other two major circuits – BASS and FLW – that have led the way in professional bass fishing for years.

2 – Chickamauga Big Bass Just Shy of New State Record

Ever since Gabe Keen caught a new Tennessee State Record largemouth bass in Chickamauga Lake on Feb. 13, 2015, many bass anglers have expected yet another state record to be caught. It hasn’t, yet, but Todd Beaty came close. His big bass caught Dec. 30, 2017 missed the mark by 11 ounces. The Facebook post about Beaty’s fish by went viral.

Todd Beaty with 14.53 lb. bass caught in Chickamauga Lake Dec. 30, 2017. (Photo contributed by

1 – Underwater Drone Used to Recover Angler’s Body from Center Hill Lake

This story about TWRA investigators using an underwater remote operated vehicle (ROV) similar to a drone, to recover the body of a missing fisherman on Center Hill Lake was read by thousands of users. The victim Scott Northrup, 66, was a retired chemistry professor and the faculty advisor to Tennessee Tech’s bass fishing team.

Thanks for reading Outdoors. We’ll look forward to keeping you informed in 2019.

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