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Primitive Fish Reveal Evidence of Healthy Fishery

Each year, TVA Fisheries biologists conduct fall fisheries sampling across the Tennessee River watershed. Biologists collect data on both sport fish and non-game species to gauge the overall abundance, health, and diversity of the Tennessee River watershed.

The program is one part of TVA’s Reservoir Ecological Health Monitoring. Data gathered from electro-fishing is combined with experimental gill netting and run through a matrix called the Reservoir Fish Assemblage Index. This database helps TVA keep track of historical fishery trends throughout the Tennessee River watershed.

Although TVA’s RFAI surveys often reveal trophy fish for anglers in the form of monster largemouth and slab crappie, TVA biologists are searching for trophies of their own: fish like redhorse, gar, bowfin, minnows, and a variety of other non-game fish that the general public never see. The biodiversity encountered on a daily basis is the everyday gold that proves the Tennessee river system is one of the healthiest and most diverse ecosystems in the world.

“It takes a healthy reservoir to support all these different species of fish,” said TVA Fisheries Biologist John Justice. “The biodiversity we have in the Tennessee River is remarkable, and the continued health of our fisheries tells us what we’re doing in the Valley is working.”

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