Local trout fishermen don't have to travel to distant streams for the next few months. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency again has started stocking TVA's Lake Junior near Chickamauga Dam.
The agency has been doing that in the winter in the small body of isolated water for more than a decade now. With 3,000 rainbow trout placed there on Jan. 2 and another 2,000 planned for Feb. 12, anglers have started trying corn, worms, marshmallows, artificial bait and anything else that might entice the fish to bite.
Anglers are allowed to fish from sunup to sundown on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through the end of April. The state limit of seven trout per applies.
"The end of fishing at Lake Junior will be April 27 this year," said David Young, a TWRA fishery biologist. "When you get above 70 degrees they are just not going to make it very long. Hopefully they will be caught out of there before the hot weather gets here."
Young said the 9- to 10-inch trout are brought from the Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery in Celina, Tenn. He also expressed gratitude to TVA for allowing the stocking at Lake Junior, which annually provides opportunities for many anglers who otherwise don't get a chance to try for trout.
"This whole program is in cooperation with TVA. They help us with security and other things," Young said.
"You've got people that fish there that don't go to the mountains. We bring the fish to them. I have seen folks there in wheelchairs."
The access is especially appreciated by Randy Ringer. Hit by a DUI driver years ago, the 56-year-old Ooltewah resident said his back injury limits where he can fish. He does not feel safe walking on slick rocks as most trout angling requires.
Sunday was his second time this month at Lake Junior.
"If I slipped and fell, I would really be messed up," Ringer said. "At Lake Junior it is pretty safe, and the main thing is that you just walk down to the water.
"Fishing is about all I can do for pleasure. That is my favorite activity," the disabled retiree added. He also fishes at the handicap ramps at Harrison Bay.
While Ringer managed to catch a limit of seven trout Sunday, every day is not so good. He has fished since he was 9 years old, but there are occasions when nothing he tries works.
"There are some days when its is real disappointing," Ringer admitted, but even then he's able to find enjoyment.
"I enjoy talking with other fishermen and getting some fresh air," he said. "And you can learn from watching other people fish."
He plans on more trips to Lake Junior the next three months.
"I usually go until it is over with," he said.
Contact Gary Petty at email@example.com or 423-757-6291.