Blount County (WVLT) - The Tennessee Valley Authority is busy on Fort Loudoun Lake conducting fish samples to determine just how healthy the fish population is.
As Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb learns, it's probably a good time to go fishing and last year's drought appears to have not been a problem for the fish.
The Tennessee Valley Authority spent the day fishing, not looking for keepers but sport fish.
"We're trying to get an estimate on the structure of the population of the sport fish. Black bass which includes large mouth, small mouth, and spotted and the black and white crappie," TVA fish biologist Donny Lowery said.
Using wire electrodes and DC voltage, the fish are shocked then caught with nets when they rise to the top. From there, their length and weight are checked then released back into the lake unharmed. It's a process they've been doing for about a dozen years and each year they go to the same places to have a fair comparison. What they're finding is more fish. Last year they collected about 40 fish per hour.
"We've only done two samples this morning but we're already up around 80 to 90 fish per hour," Lowery said.
But not only in numbers, but Lowery says the sizes are better. So what effects did last year's drought have on the fish population?
"We're collecting good numbers of them in all of our mainstream reservoirs so apparently the drought didn't have any deleterious effects on the fish," Lowery said.
And the fish they're finding are healthy, only a few with parasites.
"But usually it's not that critical. Usually, it's something like a little lesion or sore you can get," Lowery said.
In all, 21 reservoirs all across the TVA waters they manage will be checked in a three to four month time period.
"Once we get that data and get back to the office and download all our field computers and everything, then we check that to previous years," Lowery said.
Lowery says they hope to finish up the sampling by may 20 and then the report will be available a few months later. He says that report will be available on their website at www.tva.gov then click on reservoir.