Lake Chickamauga Drops 35 Places in Bassmaster Magazine National - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Lake Chickamauga Drops 35 Places in Bassmaster Magazine National Rankings

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - In 2014 Chickamauga Lake ranked 6th among B.A.S.S. Best Bass Lakes. In 2015 Chickamauga ranking dropped to 41st place according to the finding of a panel made up of B.A.S.S officials and members. The article in Bassmaster magazine states “Lake Chickamauga is a hero or zero type lake”. Even though the lake has big bass potential, the article also reminded  readers that the lake can be very tough at times.
Had B.A.S.S. done further research on Lake Chickamauga they may have possibly identified several reasons for the lakes rapid decline in its popularity and productivity.
Most anglers will agree that extremely heavy fishing pressure  has made bass more scarce and much harder to catch. There are pot tournaments on this lake 7 days a week. Huge weekend tournaments are a common occurrence, some reaching 350 boats. Limelight publicity on the web reaching around the world has brought fishing pressure to all time highs.

Tournament fish mortality is possibly another factor and a major concern of T.W.R.A. and many anglers as well. There are now numerous Tournaments  being held on Chickamauga that do not provide recovery tanks and fail to promote the live well skills needed to eliminate extremely high mortality rates of fish caught in the hotter months. There are in fact some tournaments who slaughter large numbers of bass just because of the above reasons.
Another factor having possible effects is that present commercial fishing regulations do not consider the fact that Florida’s strain of bass grows much faster and larger than Northern largemouth, resulting in large numbers being caught in 3 inch gill nets. Thousands of these bass winter in creeks and bays following schools of shads and because the schools are large, high numbers of giant bass are caught in 3 inch gill nets during these months. Some anglers have witnessed large numbers of giant  bass being taken and released from these nets, leaving them floating, dead or dying on the surface. Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency has been made aware of this problem by anglers whom have witnessed this occurrence.
Another factor might be the use of dangerous herbicide chemicals by private land owners putting them into public waterways and drinking water systems.  These herbicides are used to control non–native water weeds.  In the process, many native water plants and other vital aquatic organisms may be killed, thus reducing the number of acres of habitat for fish and vital water organisms.
Water levels during critical spawning time and huge fishing pressure on spawning areas may be factors. Tournament angler’s sight fishing and carrying bass long distances from their beds to tournament weight-ins could have some effect on the numbers of spawned bass each season. Water levels maintained by T.V.A. can produce an excellent spawn or almost wipe it out.
This leaves us with the question. How long can the bass population in Lake Chickamauga survive the man made conditions that could threaten their very existence? This writer believes that with strict guidance from T.W.R.A., along with concerned anglers, tournament organizations, and public concern for water quality and lake health, Chickamauga Lake may have a chance to survive.

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