Spring Sport Fish Survey
TVA conducts its annual spring sport fish survey to help determine the number, age, and general health of black bass and crappie populations in TVA reservoirs. The results of the survey are used by state agencies to protect and improve sport fisheries.
The 2012 spring sport fish survey was conducted on 11 Tennessee River reservoirs from March through May. The survey included twelve 30-minute electrofishing runs covering the various habitat types present. An electric current was used to temporarily stun the fish so that they floated to the surface, where they were collected by TVA crews. The fish were then weighed, measured, and released.
This approach to determining fish abundance is used by state game and fish agencies and academia. In addition to accommodating state databases, the surveying method aligns with TVA Land and Shoreline Management objectives, since the sample sites are selected using the shoreline habitat characteristics employed by the Land and Shoreline Management group.
The survey predominantly targets three species of black bass largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass and black and white crappie.
Summary of 2012 results
- 11 reservoirs were sampled in 2012: 9 Main-stem Tennessee River reservoirs and 2 Tributary reservoirs.
- A total of 9,212 black bass and 1,433 crappie were collected.
- An overall catch rate of 54.8 fish per hour was achieved.
- Numbers of black bass collected 3 pounds (933), 4 pounds (329), 5 pounds and over (116).
- Chickamauga Reservoir recorded the highest numbers of fish in the 3, 4, and 5 pound or larger range. (3 pounds 219 fish - 4 pounds 89 fish -5 pounds and over 38).
- Pickwick Reservoir recorded its highest number of smallmouth bass (275).
- Fort Loudoun Reservoir recorded the highest percentage of harvestable largemouth bass to date at 85.6%.
- Guntersville Reservoir had its highest number of 3 pound fish to date (3 pound 196).
- The highest catch rates were observed on Guntersville Reservoir (76.5 fish per hour) and Pickwick Reservoir (73.1 fish per hour).
- The largest fish in the 2012 survey was a 9.6 pound largemouth bass from Pickwick Reservoir (Pickwick Forebay). Second largest fish Chickamauga Reservoir (Sale Creek 9.4 largemouth)
- The average weight of all black bass collected 10 inches and longer was 1.8 pounds system wide. However, 5 reservoirs had mean weights of 2.0 lbs or better. (Chickamauga, Guntersville, Nickajack, Wheeler and Wilson)
- Guntersville Reservoir had the highest average weight (2.3 pounds) ever recorded, system wide, for all black bass over 10 inches.
- Parksville Reservoir continues to produce significant numbers of spotted bass. Inversely, largemouth bass comprised only 7.2% of the 2012 sample exhibiting a decreasing trend in the largemouth bass population.
- 2012 was generally a warm spring in which higher water temperatures occurred earlier than normal.
- 153 anglers and observers participated in the 2012 survey.
Top reservoirs in each category (numbers of fish)
- Pickwick Reservoir had the most smallmouth bass (275).
- Chickamauga Reservoir had the most spotted bass (183).
- Guntersville Reservoir had the most largemouth bass (1,193).
- Chickamauga Reservoir had the most crappie (335).
- Fort Loudoun Reservoir had the most white crappie (147).
- Chickamauga Reservoir had the most black crappie (275).
- Chickamauga Reservoir had the most black bass sampled (1,377).