Following the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s lifting of water contact advisories for rivers and streams in Sevier County, the state wildlife agency is resuming its trout stocking program in the Little Pigeon River.
TDEC reports that for over two decades, there was a public advisory against water contact due to elevated fecal coliform bacteria in the lower Middle Prong, West Prong, and multiple tributaries of the Little Pigeon River. According to TWRA Region 4 Fisheries Program Coordinator Bart Carter, it was during this period that the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency discontinued trout stocking in an effort to discourage anglers from coming in contact with the contaminated water and to allow trout to be stocked in other fishable waterways. Now, due to a cooperative effort between TDEC, the National Park Service, Sevier County, and the cities of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, “Bacteria concentrations have improved to the point that the public advisory is no longer considered necessary,” said TDEC Division of Water Resources Director Tisha Calabrese-Benton.
“We are very proud of the improvements to the West Prong but it still has water quality issues that will keep it on the state’s list of impaired streams. We will continue to work with stakeholders over the long-term to ensure this waterway stays on a healthy path,” Calabrese-Benton said last November in a statement.
This is good news for anglers, as TWRA will resume trout stocking in a six-mile stretch of the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River in Pigeon Forge from Patriot Park down to the Apple Barn Restaurant. Trout will also be stocked into the Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon near Pittman Center and into Little River towards Townsend. Pending suitable weather, stockings will begin the week of Feb. 26, 2017 and continue every other week until the week of June 4, for a total of eight stockings. Stockings will be suspended throughout the summer as water temperatures could potentially get too high, but will resume in October for three more stockings.
The 2017-2018 Tennessee Fishing Guide will also include information on trout stocking in these rivers as well as other waterways across the state. For more information on TDEC’s lifting of the water quality advisory in Sevier County, visit: http://www.tennessee.gov/environment/news/46499
Photo: Erwin National Fish Hatchery/Facebook