Making a splash
Trout release highlights agencies’ partnership
Clinton, Tennessee — The Clinch River is now richer by a couple hundred extra trout. Other watersheds will soon share that wealth.
Four government agencies recently released rainbow, brook, brown and spotted trout into the tailwaters of the Clinch River near Knoxville.
Representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), Tennessee Valley Authority, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency took turns dumping nets of wriggling fish into the river — a symbolic gesture underscoring a fruitful partnership.
They also signed a three-year agreement to continue stocking fish in reservoirs and rivers in Tennessee and Georgia. With the stroke of pens, they guaranteed the release of more than 900,000 trout in both states in the coming 12 months.
Those signatures also mean an economic windfall for both states, said Mike Oetker, the acting regional director of the Service’s Southeast Region.
Trout fishing, said Oetker, is worth about $45 million to Tennessee and Georgia. Every dollar spent on stocking fish, he said, reaps a $73 return in anglers’ gear purchases, hotel stays, restaurant tabs and more.
“I think resuming this partnership means there will be great trout fishing in both states,” said Oetker, who stood at the river’s edge and upended a net full of trout into the water.
The fish are proof that the agreement is working, said David Bowling, the TVA’s Vice President of Land and River Management. He dumped trout in the river, too.
“You’re actually seeing living, wriggling results of a lot of hard work of all four parties involved,” he said.
The fish, delivered from hatcheries in both states, came in two sizes — big (14-inch-and longer brown trout ready to catch) and fish that didn’t quite meet that size (but should grow).
The trout, said Ed Carter, who heads Tennessee’s wildlife agency, should thrive in the Clinch’s chilled depths. For Carter, the ceremony was a chance to revisit an old haunt: As a child, he fished in these waters. He also recalled a Boy Scout canoeing trip on the Clinch. Rounding a bend, the scouts came upon a baptism in the river’s shallows.
He smiled at the memory — at the future, too. The fish released in the state’s watersheds, he said, are proof that agencies at different levels can work together.
“Partnerships,” he said, “are what makes things happen.”
Mark Davis, Public Affairs Specialist
firstname.lastname@example.org, (404) 679-7291
- Brook Trout
- Brown Trout
- Clinch River
- Erwin National Fish Hatchery
- Rainbow Trout
- Spotted Trout
- Tennessee Valley Authority
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