Lady of the Lake: Get Hooked

Alright, so I've never been much of a "fisher woman," but since I have written about a broad spectrum of water-related sports, I thought it was time to look at the fishing community as a water sport. Of course, I discovered a large and diverse community of people who fish and I see many of these enthusiasts out my office window at Volunteer Landing daily. I observe them along the shores of the downtown creeks and in small boats trolling along near the banks, and I wonder if they are enjoying the activity and if they eat the fish. Most of these people are fishing alone.

I called Jeremy Nelson, partner in 3 Rivers Angler in Bearden to ask him a few questions about fishing in and around Knoxville. The first topic that poured forth from his mouth was about the height of the water and how the 12 inches above normal rainfall had affected the fishing in a negative way. Then he proceeded to talk in TVA terms about the amount of water that was "running" in each tributary and how the water's temperature affected the numbers and the depth of the fish, especially trout. He was flowing at the mouth like a flooding creek, speaking in terms I had never heard. I finally had to stop him and back him up to ask simple lay-person questions.

Since TVA controls our water levels, it controls the fishing and here's how: When they are generating electricity they let the water run through their generators, which speeds up the water and douses the fish with cold water. The best schedule for fishing is when they "run" or generate at night and do not run or pulse during the day. Pulsing is when they let the water out in intervals. These conditions are good for trout fishing and wading in to catch them. Jeremy and his friends are fly fisherman, so wading in is probably preferred. It hasn't been as warm yet this season, so the water has been cold. Fish feed according to the water's temperature as it affects their metabolism. Apparently trout like it cold and are hungry, good for the catching. Bass like it warmer and swim deeper when it is cold.

Nelson was referencing the Holston and the French Broad Rivers for trout and when I asked about Fort Loudoun Lake, Jeremy informed me that there is good fishing through downtown Knoxville. This where you can catch large-mouth and white bass, shad, croppy, bluegill, carp and good ol' Tennessee catfish. Our area of the river has its own wild population that is self-sustaining. This is opposed to some areas that have to be stocked by TWRA. You can find out about fish populations at TWRA.gov. With such a wide variety of fish, I then had to ask his opinion on which is the best eatin' fish. Croppy won his vote with its "light and flaky texture." He did say that all these fish are better "pan fish" than "grillin' fish." This means you grab your cornmeal and oil and shake and fry.

Apparently, there is as wide a variety of fisherman types as there are fish. They range from the professional anglers and fly fisherman to the recreational fishermen. The professionals travel for tournaments and pull in some big fish competing for trophies and large sums of money. The equipment has an expansive range also including very specific rods and rigging and bait. Fly fisherman are known for their customized bait called "flies." Nelson mentions a "Clouser Minnow," which is a fly made from a bucktail tied on to a hook with a lead eye for depth, named after Bob Clouser. Yet it doesn't take a bunch of fancy fishing equipment, tricked-out boats, and handmade flies to fish. Some who seek serenity just grab an old-fashioned fishing pole, some squirmy live worm bait, and set out in a canoe, kayak, or even a stand-up paddle board. Of course, you can fish off the banks and carry home some dinner. These are the folks who just enjoy a "good day on the water" I imagine that they are fishing for stress relief and meditation. This may be a stretch, yet you find fisherman early in the morning or at dusk, which happens to be peaceful times of the day

Overall, Nelson encourages the inexperienced to try it. "It's easier than it appears" and, heck, maybe you will get hooked! Keep an eye out for the Carp Cup coming up in August. Visit 3riverscarpcup.com for more information or visit 3 Rivers Angler in Bearden and talk to Jeremy. He certainly knows his craft.

Also, a Father's Day Fishing Event will be held Sunday, June 16, from 4-7 p.m. at Victor Ashe Park. TWRA has donated 800 pounds of catfish to stock the pond for the event. Mast General Store is sponsoring the grand prizes, and there will be a vendor there that sells fried catfish and fried green tomatoes.

Angela Howard is the executive director of the Fort Loudoun Lake Association. Visit fllake.org for more info.