published Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Junior anglers: State stocks Hamilton County lake with more than 4,000 trout for weekend fishing

By Gary Petty
Jason Creighton watches as 7-year-old East Brainerd Elementary School student Isabel Hernandez reels in a trout at TVA's Lake Junior. The lake is open for trout fishing Fridays through Sundays until April 30.
Photo by Gary Petty
Jason Creighton watches as 7-year-old East Brainerd Elementary School student Isabel Hernandez reels in a trout at TVA's Lake Junior. The lake is open for trout fishing Fridays through Sundays until April 30. Photo by Gary Petty

Local fishermen continue to take advantage of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency's trout stocking program at TVA's Lake Junior.

The small reservoir near the intersection of state Highway 158 and Amnicola Highway is open for trout fishing during daylight hours on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until April 30.

TWRA stocked the lake on Jan. 3 and plans to restock it again on Feb. 13. The anglers may find it easier to get their daily limit of seven trout this year.

"We had a little extra this year, so we put 4,500 in the lake. We usually put around 2,000," said David Young, a fisheries biologist with the state agency.

"We want them caught before summer, if possible. The water will warm up and exceed the temperature that the trout can stand. Anything above 72 [degrees], they are not going to last very long."

Young said the trout are transported to Lake Junior from the Dale Hollow fish hatchery 132 miles away near Celina, Tenn. The stocking and weekend fishing program has been going on about 10 years, he noted.

He said TWRA limits fishing to the three days so TVA won't have to open and close the gates so often.

Ooltewah resident Randy Ringer spent about five hours casting in Lake Junior last Sunday. With four rods staked to the ground, he was using power bait in hopes of catching his limit.

"I ended up getting six [trout]. It was tough fishing," he said.

That was Ringer's second time there this month.

"Last year I was over there every Saturday and Sunday," he said, adding that the 20 or so anglers he saw Sunday was typical -- but more are not uncommon.

"On one or two days last year we were shoulder to shoulder," he said.

Sunday was a good day of fishing for Nick Howard of Hixson.

"I caught my limit," he said. "I got there around 3 and stayed until dark. That is usually the best time, between 4 and dark."

Howard said the early daylight time is good too, but her prefers the warmer afternoons.

He has tried his fishing skills the last three weekends at Lake Junior. He also was using power bait Sunday but has tried other baits as well.

"In the past I have used corn, mini marshmallows, bread dough and worms," he said. "I've tried everything out there."

Howard also has taken a syringe needle and pushed air into nightcrawlers to make them float better.

"I tell people that one day [the trout] will want chicken and another day they will want steak," he said.

As most of the easy access to Lake Junior's shoreline is shallow water, Howard finds that he has to get the bait some distance from the shore.

"You've got to get a good size weight and get the bait about two feet off the bottom," he said.

TWRA plans to stock North Chickamauga Creek with trout on Feb. 24, April 7 and May 5. With 24 counties and nearly 200 bodies of water in the stocking program, Young said the number of trout the agency expects to put in the creek will not be close to what is stocked at Lake Junior. He expects only 200-500 to be placed each time.

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