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 2014 spring sport fish survey was conducted on 10 Tennessee Valley 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 2014 results
- 10 reservoirs were sampled in 2014: 9 Main-stem Tennessee River reservoirs and 1 tributary reservoir.
- A total of 9,911 black bass and 1,931 crappie were collected.
- An overall catch rate of 61.1 fish per hour was achieved.
- Numbers of black bass collected 3 pounds (1,139), 4 pounds (489), 5 pounds and over (174).
- Guntersville and Wheeler reservoirs each had over 200 three pound fish collected during the survey.
- Pickwick Reservoir recorded the highest number of smallmouth bass (169).
- Nickajack Reservoir recorded the highest percentage of harvestable largemouth bass (92.3%).
- Guntersville Reservoir had its highest numbers of 3, 4 and 5 pound fish to date (220, 78 and 56).
- The highest catch rate for a individual station (12 samples) was First Creek on Wheeler Reservoir (87.7).
- The highest overall catch rates observed were on Douglas Reservoir (73.3 fish per hour) and Wilson Reservoir (70.1 fish per hour).
- The average weight of all black bass collected 10 inches and longer was 1.8 pounds system wide. However, 4 reservoirs had mean weights of 2.0 lbs or better. (Guntersville, Nickajack, Wheeler and Wilson).
- The largest black bass was a largemouth that was collected in Sale Creek on Chickamauga reservoir (10 lbs).
- Sale Creek on Chickamauga reservoir and Short Creek on Guntersville reservoir had the most fish over five pound collected in one individual survey (22 and 26).
- 2014 Weather conditions: Mid to late March was characterized several cold fronts moving through the Tennessee Valley creating periods of rain followed by cool mornings and blue bird skies. One significant cold front moved through in early April before conditions began to warm into a more seasonal spring pattern.
- 302 observers participated in the 2014 survey.
Top reservoirs in each category (numbers of fish)
- Pickwick Reservoir had the most smallmouth bass (169).
- Chickamauga Reservoir had the most spotted bass (32).
- Douglas Reservoir had the most largemouth bass (1,229).
- Fort Loudoun Reservoir had the most crappie (417).
- Fort Loudoun Reservoir had the most white crappie (269).
- Chickamauga Reservoir had the most black crappie (234).
- Pickwick Reservoir had the most black bass sampled (1,321).