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CROSSVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has established a walleye stocking program in Watts Bar Reservoir by recently releasing over 220,000 fingerlings in the lake. The young walleye were raised at the Eagle Bend Fish Hatchery and were stocked in various locations around the reservoir to augment sauger stocking in Watts Bar.
"This venture is based on much biological forethought and consideration," said Mike Jolley, TWRA Region III Reservoir Fisheries Manager. "Currently, several reservoirs across the state are stocked with walleye with good success. In an effort to offset the proven challenges in managing and maintaining sauger populations, TWRA will instead stock walleye on an annual basis at Watts Bar. Fisheries managers believe stocking the walleye will provide anglers with greater fishing opportunity with more sustainability."
The decision to replace the sauger stocking program with walleye is based on reoccurring issues with the sauger's low natural reproduction, challenging hatchery propagation, and the management of the sauger as a sportfish.
"Walleye, when compared to sauger as a manageable fish, offer more opportunity for success on several levels,"said Jolley. “Walleye, on average, live longer than sauger. They obtain a larger size, more conducive to year around fishing. The brood fish are less of a challenge to obtain, and walleye require fewer man hours to produce in TWRA hatcheries."
Walleye and sauger have several parallel characteristics and are closely related. Both migrate up rivers to spawn, share similar feeding patterns, and are good night feeders because of they have a light reflective coating located behind the eye. Both fish also offer great table fare that is highly sought after by anglers.
The TWRA Region III Reservoir Fisheries crew will continue to closely monitor the stocking program and fish populations. This is accomplished by various types of surveys which may include gill netting, seining, creel surveys, and elector fishing."
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