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December 21, 2014

Outdoors Charles Johnson: Our fisheries appear to be improving

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Posted: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 4:33 pm | Updated: 5:05 pm, Wed Jun 11, 2014.

Recent bass tournaments have seen some impressive limits.

A majority of the events have been on Tennessee River impoundments. Some have been on lakes inside our state. Eye popping creels of bass have been brought to the scales and some anglers are shaking their heads in disbelief.

Last week on Wilson Lake near Florence, The Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League All American hosted 50 top weekend anglers from around the United States. The three-day event saw a Missouri angler win with more than 66 pounds of bass. For a 15-fish limit, that is more than 4 pounds a fish.

The final week of May has the first B.A.S.S. Northern Open on Douglas Lake in Dandridge, Tenn. The winning angler there had 62 pounds in three days with 15 bass. Again a 4-pound average.

Also, last week FLW Tour dropped anchor on Pickwick Lake another Tennessee River impoundment in the northwest corner of our state. Two-tour pro angler Greg Hackney just missed the century club with a four day total weight of 97 pounds and some change.

On day two of the tournament, Hackney scored a bag of bass that weighed more than 31 pounds. That’s more than a six-pound average. On the final day, he had 21 pounds, 9 ounces to take the win. The top eight pros in the event had over 80 pounds of bass each in four days of competition.

Closer to home, the Mark’s Outdoors mega tournament on Logan Martin saw the winning two-man team bring in five bass over 20 pounds. The event launched 526 boats for one day of competition. Looking at the size of the lake and the fishing pressure, it receives speaks volumes to the lake and our fisheries management.

This week we could see some more head shaking as B.A.S.S Elite anglers head to Chickamauga Lake on the Tennessee River, two lakes above Guntersville. The past few years some monster bass and limits have come out of the lake simple known as “The Chick.”

Earlier this year, a local angler caught two bass, each over 10 pounds on different trips. Last year the FLW Tour stopped by in mid-June. Bass of 7 and 8 pounds were common and some over the 9-pound mark were brought to the scales. The Elite guys could see some record-breaking catches.

But, rewind some 20 years. The fishing on the Tennessee lakes and around here wasn’t as impressive as it is today. In 1997 the Basmaster Classic on Logan Martin saw the winner with almost 35 pounds of bass in three days. Granted, it was mid-summer and weather conditions were hot.

During May last year, the B.A.S.S. Southern Open winner weighed over 46 pounds in three days. In pre-dawn hours of the final day, the area experienced over six inches of rain. Still, an impressive average of more than 3 pounds a fish.

Are our fisheries improving? It appears they are. Catch and release has helped sustain the bass population in many lakes. Release of the larger year class fish has help in fingerling recruitment to replenish the population. Keeping our rivers and lakes clean also has had an impact.

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