Warm waters of the Hiwassee River postpone trout stocking by TWRA
TWRA typically stocks trout in the Hiwassee River every year on October 1st at the beginning of the Delayed Harvest fishing season. TWRA performs the supplemental stocking to help the river environmentally and to support the sport of fishing. However, this year, stocking has been postponed because of warm water temperatures. Trout need temperatures under 70°F to be healthy, and the river has not cooled to those levels yet.
When the river “gets to that level or surpasses it, fish are going to become stressed. They are not going to feed. They're going to become very lethargic, and then ultimately, you're going to see an increase in fish mortality," said Jon Ellis, Fisheries Biologist and Manager of Tellico Hatchery.
They have pushed back the stocking until there is a consistent water temperature under 70 degrees. Ellis said, “It doesn't really do us any good to put fish in, if we are at 65 degrees for a week, and then it will jump into the 90s the next week. So, what we are going to need is a consistent period of time of probably a couple of weeks."
They are monitoring the water temperatures with a TWRA funded USGS water gauge, and anglers can follow themselves here.
Some fishermen may be disappointed by the river not being stocked on time, but the delay will help the trout and anglers in the long run.
“By putting the fish in later, you are going to have more active fish, the bite will be better, and with us keeping these fish in the hatchery longer, they will be bigger fish," said Ellis. “As soon as we get good water temperatures and everything clears up, we'll get the fish in the water, and it should be a good season.”
Ellis thinks they'll be able to start stocking the Hiwassee River around the end of October with Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, and Northern Brook Trout.
For fishing now, the Tellico River is stocked, and there are wild trout streams in the mountains, too.
For additional information regarding stocking and other trout related issues, TWRA will post on their Facebook page.