The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency plans to expand the Florida largemouth bass stocking program into more waters across the state. After the hugely successful and popular Florida largemouth bass stocking into Chickamauga Reservoir, plans are now to ramp up the program to include, Watts Bar, Fort Loudoun, Nickajack and Kentucky reservoirs.

TWRA’s efforts in raising Florida largemouth bass is continuing at its Humboldt Fish Hatchery. A new indoor facility was built in 2016 at the Gibson County location with the goal of becoming self-sufficient in raising and stocking Florida bass for the state’s anglers. After 500,000 fish in the first year, the numbers have increased to more than 1.2 million.

TFWC: Here are some highlights from the April meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission, held at the Holly Fork Shooting Complex. Concerning chronic wasting disease (CWD), the current positive and high-risk counties will remain in Unit L.

During the August deer hunt, gun, muzzleloader, and archery will be allowed with an extra limit of two antlered deer in addition to a hunter’s annual antlered deer limit of two. WMAs will be open to the public for the August hunt. During the other seasons, for a buck found to be CWD-positive, a replacement buck will be allowed. Harvests made on select weekends will require mandatory check-in at stations. The commission passed a rule to permanently establish carcass exportation and feeding restrictions for positive and high risk CWD zone counties.

An Asian carp update was given, citing that commercial harvest is the most effective method in the removal of invasive species. The Asian carp incentive program, which began last fall, is continuing to grow and has resulted in 718,000 pounds removed to date. Also discussed were the containment measures including the accidental transport and reduction of immigration at navigation locks.

The commission approved a federally-funded study on mallard behavior and use of wetlands. Mallards provide 74 percent of the migrating birds in Tennessee. The project will help the agency be more efficient and effective with habitat management. The TFWC also approved a federally-funded cooperative project with Ducks Unlimited to enhance some wetland area within the Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area. The TFWC’s next scheduled meeting is May 23-24 in Nashville at the TWRA Region II headquarters in Nashville.

FLY FISHING: For the 11th year Orvis is offering free fly fishing clinics for outdoor adventurers. Every year more than 15,000 people in 43 states take advantage of these classes, also receiving a free membership in Trout Unlimited. Additionally, Orvis donates one dollar per FF101 student to Casting for Recovery®, a unique organization that provides therapeutic fly-fishing retreats to women with breast cancer.

Orvis is an instructional leader within the fly fishing industry, hosting schools in the U.S. since the early 1970s. Students get hands on experience with the rods, reels and fly lines, and learn the basic types of flies and knots needed for a successful day on the water.

For the 2019 season, classes will be offered from May through July at Orvis retail stores across the country. East Tennessee will have clinics near Chattanooga, Knoxville and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Find the specific locations at www.Orvis.com/flyfishing101.

TURKEY: The Oak Ridge Wildlife Management Area had its second and last spring turkey hunt on April 27-28. A total of 10 birds was taken, nine toms and one jake; the largest tom was 21.6 pounds; the longest beard was 11.2 inches; the longest spur was 1.1 inches. None was retained for internal radiological contamination.

For the 2019 season’s superlatives, the total take was 32 birds. The first hunt had the largest turkey (23.6 pounds); the first hunt had the longest spur (1.2 inches); and both hunts had the longest beard (11.2 inches). None was retained this season.

ELK FOUNDATION: Sports banquets are without a doubt a most enjoyable way to contribute to wildlife conservation. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation chapter banquets are no exception. RMEF has seven chapters in Tennessee and six banquets queued for the remainder of the year (East Tennessee Chapter was in February). Plan to join one of these soirees and enjoy the camaraderie, as well as the raffles, games, live and silent auctions, and the good food.

For quick reference there are banquets set for these Tennessee cities and dates: May 4, Johnson City; May 18, LaFollette; June 1, Chattanooga; July 20, Shelbyville; Aug. 17, Upper Cumberland; Aug. 24, Franklin. For tickets and contact information go to www.rmef.org/Events/StateChapterEvents.aspx.

Email wiest.tom@gmail.com to share with your news and comments with Tom Wiest.

Tom Wiest is a long time columnist on all matters outdoors. He welcomes news, questions and comments from readers.

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