TELLICO PLAINS, Tenn. — Just like trout fishing, trout stocking is big business in Tennessee.
Green Cove Pond gets stocked with trout every Thursday, just as do 62 sites along Citico Creek and 126 sites along Tellico River from the middle of March to the end of September.
Trout are stocked on various schedules in 125 bodies of water across the state.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that Tennessee spent $1.29 million on the operation in 2016. A total of 2.2 million trout are stocked annually.
More than 100,000 people fish for trout in the state each year
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is looking for public input on its latest Statewide Trout Management Plan.
Brandon Simcox, TWRA statewide streams program coordinator, said this will be the second such plan, replacing a 10-year plan started in 2006 and ended in 2016.
“This is to lay the foundation for how we continue to manage our trout program,” Simcox said. “We are looking for what we can do to improve our program.”
Trout stocking is nothing new in Tennessee. A few of the pools at the TWRA’s Tellico Trout Hatchery were built in the 1930s.
Tennesseans might be surprised to learn that neither brown nor rainbow trout are native to the state. Only the Southern Appalachian brook trout are native, and they prefer colder water higher up the mountains.
Yet the sight of a trout fisherman flyfishing a stream in water up to the top of his waders has been common at least in East Tennessee as far back as most can remember. Release sites have been added in West Tennessee under TWRA’s winter trout program. The fish needs water no warmer than 70 degrees, which limits warmer places to winter months.
“Trout fishing has always been very, very popular here,” said Jon Ellis, manager at Tellico. “It’s pretty amazing the amount of effort people will put into coming up here to fish for trout.”
Tellico is one of four TWRA hatcheries in Tennessee; the others are at Erwin, Buffalo Springs and Flintville.
Tellico gets its trout as 6-inch fish from the Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery.
When they get up to around a pound, they’ll be lifted out, put in tanks on a TWRA truck and taken to one of nearly 200 sites along the designated rivers, creeks and ponds in the area around Monroe and Polk counties and on the Hiwassee River where they’ll be cut loose. Tellico services 13 bodies of water.
About 5,000 are let go each week, with varying amounts distributed at each location.