Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Oops--Not a good thing!

I had been roving in my assigned area of the lake this morning trying to run down boat anglers to weigh their fish and interview them.  I made a turn through a narrow channel that leads to a small bay that parallels the main bay of the lake.  I started to pass through with 45 feet of water under the boat.  I took my eyes off the sonar to look briefly left and right for dangerous areas of shoreline.  When I glanced back to the sonar unit I pulled the throttle back hard and hit reverse.  Two feet of water showed on the screen.  It happened in a heart beat.  We wouldn't be going back into that area for the rest of the year.
There's 2 feet of water in that narrow

It looks good from here but, only two feet of water separates the bottom of the boat from the bottom of the channel.

We'll exit through this cut

Once through the narrow channel;  it was clear sailing to the open bay.
 Cherokee Lake has been drawn down approximately a foot to a foot and a half per week.  It could see a total draw down of 70 feet or a bit more.  This means that if water I'm driving on today is 45 feet deep; by mid October it will be dry land.  I can see the topography change daily as I run the lake.
Another Mud Hill is rising to the surface
This unmarked mud hill (hopefully not a rock pile) will be above water in about two days.  It is an unmarked area and presents a very dangerous situation for boaters not familiar to the lake.  If I didn't have the sonar/GPS unit on my boat;  I would be very nervous driving these waters.

 The above mud hill is scary.  It's very close to the main channel and is unmarked with any warning buoy.  It just appeared over the past four days.
The above mud hill is in the back waters of German Creek.  When full exposed;  it will create a new shoreline.  All the water to the right and front of it will be soil and passage will not be possible.
The boat is sitting on 4.4 feet of water where I took the shot of the mud hill above.  That pathway through the lake will be totally blocked in another week.  I may be able to pass by if I stay directly over the stream channel laying beneath the surface on the bottom but, it's an iffy proposition.  Hardly worth a boating accident.
If you look at the GPS screen you can see the main river channel (Holston River) that flows on the bottom of the reservoir.  The water is deepest directly above that channel.  It is the dark blue ribbon line.  The black pointer is me driving on it, hopefully.  The lighter blue area is the reservoir boundaries. 

Note, below, the bird wing looking images on the sonar screen.  Those are fish beneath and to the sides of the boat.
.The 82.5 is in degrees and is the surface temperature of the water.  A depth number is above but, cut off in this shot.   The numbers to the right side of the screen are also depth markers but, they relate to the depth of the fish, which you can see to the left in the form of little wings.  I'd fish 45 feet deep in this spot.

The above shot appeared earlier but, it shows the depth at 2 feet and the water temperature at 82.4 degrees.  The boat is traveling at a speed of 1 mile per hour if you look at the left screen.  Note where the black pointer, my boat, is.  we're far off the main river channel.
It was time for a banana and a baloney sandwich.  I decided to take a brake on a mud hill in the middle of the channel.  What a place to take a break!  Only me.

This hill is really big.  It is comprised of sand and shale.  More are made of rocks and boulders.

The boat looks lonely sitting there.  I walked clear around this hill while eating my sandwich and drinking some white whole milk.

The shorelines are becoming more and more exposed as the water is drawn down.  The generation of power at the dam requires lots of water.  This is a flood control dam and TVA is drawing it down even further in preparation for possible heavy Fall and Spring rains.
Shot taken of German Creek

 There is a passage to the next adjoining channel by going through that narrow strait that can be seen top and center.
Once through that cut that takes me around that island on the left;  it's clear running down the river channel to the mouth of German Creek and the open bay of Cherokee Lake.
These current water conditions are temporary.  The lake will be drawn down to what seems like an absurd level.  Fishermen will still fish and think nothing of it.  This lake can be intimidating to a newcomer, however.  Anyway;  it's the end of my shift and I have to load up the boat.
The boat ramp at Oak Grove Park is getting longer and longer as the water recedes more and more.  I have to stop using this ramp if the truck wheels drop off the water end of the ramp and the wheels go onto the gravel/mud lake bottom.  She'll be swamped.

Next week should be interesting as the water will be another foot and a half lower.
Check in again in a couple days and the water should look real interesting.  Thanks for watching.
I miss you Douglas!

Monday, August 29, 2011


Baby Snapping Turtle
It's late and the photo above is the best I could do at this late hour.  That little guy was found while on a canoe paddle on Indian Boundary Lake simply floating on the surface of the water.

I am not in a very good mood tonight.  I received an email yesterday from a friend who described an absolutely horrible situation in Indiana involving the harassment and maiming of snapping turtles resulting with many that die slow, horrible deaths.  It seems that;  no;  it is a fact that in Ohio County, Indiana there is an event called Snapperfest that has become an annual event.  It has been held every year for the past ten years.  This year it took place on August 20th at the Campshore Campgrounds in Indiana.  The following paragraph is a copy from a web page I found briefly describing activities of the event.  I quote from that article:

"The frightened animals are grabbed by their tails and repeatedly slammed to the ground.  their heads are yanked from their shells, and they are then swung around until "contestants" are able to wrap their fists around the animals' necks.  Cheering on of the turtle-wranglers has grown in popularity, and the organizers insist it is good, clean, fun."

To that I say Bull!  This is a clear example of animal cruelty in its most prolific form and it is being ignored by law officials from all branches of the Indiana government.   The local Aurora Police Chief Bryan Field said that although he has received numerous complaints, the event falls outside of the jurisdiction of the Aurora Police Department.  Again;  I say bull.  All that police department has to do is pick up the phone and involve an agency that is responsible.  You think I'm making too much of this issue?  Type in Turtle Cruelty in your search engine and prepare to see the most stupid, overweight, Bubba complete with bib overalls swinging a snapping turtle around by it's neck and acting macho and proud as the obviously uneducated crowd of dolts clap and cheer him on from the grand stand.  Look at the proud, "I'm tuff",  face this idiot wears.

What is happening to society?  What on earth kind of enjoyment can any human being with the slightest bit of neuron activity at all in the brain get from exacting such harsh torture on an ancient creature that is harmless and secretive in the wilds.  What an example to hold up to the children present!   Worse;  what kind of law enforcement agency says the issue is out of their jurisdiction, hangs up the phone and goes to the doughnut shop immediately after?  This ridiculous spectacle has been occurring for the past ten years.  Hard to believe.  Is everybody in Indiana insensitive to animal abuse?  Does animal abuse only pertain to dogs, cats and horses.  The answer to that is absolutely not!  Animal abuse is the harassment and abuse of any animal, wild or domestic.  ANY!  Evidently the law in Indiana views it differently.  They better not view it differently.  I'll make damn sure they don't.  I looked up the Indiana Law pertaining to cruelty and mistreatment of animals and I'm going to call this Chief Bryan Field of the Aurora Police Department and remind him of the statute.  It reads:

Title 35, Article 46, Chapter 3  Indiana Cruelty to Animals  Statute 35-46-3-12
Heading----Torture or Mutilation of a Vertebrate Animal

Sec 12 (a) A person who knowingly or intentionally tortures, beats, or mutilates a vertebrate animal commits cruelty to an animal, a Class A misdemeanor.  However, the offense is a Class D felony if the person has a previous, unrelated conviction under this section

It goes on:

(b)  It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the accused person:
(1)  reasonably believes the conduct was necessary to:
(A)  prevent injury to the accused person or another person:
(B)  protect the property of the accused person from destrruction or substantial damage, or
(C)  prevent a seriously injured vertebrate animal from prolonged suffering, or
(2)  engaged in a reasonable and recognized act of training, handling, or disciplining the vertebrate animal

By the way;  a turtle is a vertebrate.   Their spine is attached to their shell, just in case you were wondering if the statute applies to turtles.  Revisit Section 12 and read it again.

This is only one statute applicable to the issue.

This rant of mine is not about hunting turtles or capturing and selling snapping turtles.  Both actions are legal in most states.  The law is the law.  This is about extreme torture and maiming of an animal for the pure joy of it.  The Alligator Snapping Turtle is considered endangered by many states and Indiana considered them endangered and has strict regulations that forbid it's destruction or even capture.  Wonder if proud Bubba can identify one of those or does he select his turtle victims indiscriminately?

I am going to do all I can to put this issue in front of as many public animal agencies as I can.  If you would like to join me;  please feel free to send the address of this blog entry to anyone you think may be interested in stopping this insanity.  And if you are a law enforcement agency in Indiana;  please email me.   I'd like to exchange the written word with you about this abomination that has been overlooked for the past ten years and still exists in your state.

I am not a tree hugger and never claimed to be.  I will, however, not stand by and see a creature tortured to death, wild or domestic, for the enjoyment of some uneducated morons by an obviously uneducated moron who probably has ten moronic kids at home waiting to grow up to be just like dad.


Saturday, August 20, 2011


Douglas;  we miss you, golden son
Shade's post card picture
I had to trick Happy into staying in the house this morning so Shade would have a chance to get to the truck first.  These dogs are like little kids at times.  Happy went to the lake the last two trips and I really wanted to be with Shade today.  She proved to be sensational on the boat.
I was working the lake in the afternoon today and would be travelling along the Holston River, my favorite area.  This is where the sandy beaches are.  I love to stop at those beaches for a break with Shade.  She loves the feel of the sand under foot and lets off a lot of steam running back and forth along the sandy shoreline.

She has grown more confident while on the boat and has become less intimidated by the sound of the engine when it throttles up.  No longer does she cower and hide at my feet like before.  She ventures to the bow and stands with front feet on the extreme edge and holds her head up.
When underway, her ears catch the wind and lift from her head.  She seems to enjoy the feel of the wind passing by.  This dog has never spent much time on a boat and has been very aprehensive about the experience.  She, only now, is beginning to accept the environment and finding joy in the ride.

A passing log catches her attention
She will even spend time at the rear of the boat now, beside the big engine.  That was taboo for her up until just recently.  I'm proud of her.

She moves about the boat freely without apparent concern.  I am delighted with her progress.  I would not, however, force her to be on the boat if she did not show happiness.
This beautiful friend has come a long, long way in the past month.
We had been riding water for four hours straight and needed to walk on ground.  I beached the boat on a nice part of the sand and just relaxed and drank water---lots of water.  It was hot today!  I tossed sticks in the water for Shade to retrieve.  She has only just started to really retrieve since the loss of our beautiful boy.  Shade is finally letting go.  Wish I could.
Get it girl!

What a good girl!

Bring it here girl
This beach is actually part of a farmer's field.  There are cattle that frequent the area and I can see old fence posts protruding from the ground here and there.  Most of them are many years old and have not been kept up.
There isn't much land around Cherokee Lake that is wild.  There are areas of little habitation but, for the most part everything is owned by somebody.  I really miss the wild places I knew back near Tellico and Calderwood.  But, it's nice here for the most part.  This lake is a job to me and it's a nice place or, maybe I should say an interesting place.
Shade was having a great time sniffing anything and everything.  She ran up and down the beach running off energy that was building while on the boat.  I needed to stretch my legs too.  7.5 hours is a long time to keep a boat running constantly.  Gotta have a break.
There was a beautiful field of purple flowers and I coaxed Shade to run through them.  I can only do so much with this little camera as it is slow to operate.  I did get a couple shots of Shade among the flowers.  Pretty neat!

Shade's post card shot

Ahh;  pretty girl

It's actually getting pretty late and I need to make one pass downstream on the opposite side of the lake before loading the boat on the trailer.  Shade is beat and probably will fall asleep on the way back.  Great dog!  Great friend and companion!  I'm proud of her.  Very proud.....
I've got to mention this fisherman I met today.  He had caught 16 largemouth bass in an hour.  He had none in the boat but elected to throw them all back in the water.  I thought;  "sure, right."  He could tell I didn't believe him.  As I was questioning him he said; "I'll catch three fish in the next ten minutes for ya."
I said, "I'd like to see that."
While I was asking him survey questions he yanked a largemouth bass out of the water beside a bridge pier.  As fast as he could get his line in the water he pulled out a second.  He repeated the action and pulled out a third as I asked the last question on the lake survey.  He then tossed his line back in and pulled out a forth.  Wow!  I took a picture of him holding up the fifth largemouth he caught.  What a fisherman!  In reality, the fish were schooling beside those bridge piers.  Never the less;  He knew how to fish.
The picture is fuzzy because a passing boat set up a heavy wake and I couldn't hold the camera still but, he is holding a pretty nice fish up in his right hand.  Heck of a nice guy, and knowledgable about fishing. 

Good by for now

Friday, August 19, 2011


If you look closely toward the upper right side of the photo above you will see a brown colored area.  That is the appearance of a mud hill.  They show up as the lake is lowered in water volume.  The entire lake actually sits upon an area that was originally covered with mountains and foot hills.  There are many houses and farms at the bottom of the lake also.
Above shot is same mud hill from another angle and a bit closer.  These hills of mud present a very great danger to boaters, especially those who visit from out of state and to those who do not use a lake map or sonar.  That group of boaters would include jet skiers and wave runners.
The above shot shows the extent of the mud hazard.  The actual peak of mud is off to the right of the picture and in the next photograph.  The water depth I'm in when I took the shot is 80 feet.  So that mud mound goes 80 feet down, or is 80 feet tall depending how you look at it.  The actual dry land will be present tomorrow sometime.  It is just poking through the surface today.

Cherokee Lake at full pool (measured from sea level) runs about 1100 feet above sea level.  It was at 1062.09 feet when I took the picture.  Do the math and you'll find that the lake has been lowered 38 feet already.  Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) will probably lower it a total of sixty feet eventually in the Fall.  It has been dropping two feet every week at least for the past month.
Same mud hill seen from different angle
The scary thing is that these mud hills are out in the middle of the lake where one wouldn't expect to find a hazard.  One second a boat is in 100 feet of water and ten seconds later it's 40 feet, then 15 feet and if you keep going;  you're sunk---literally.
Mud hills and rock piles (tops of underwater mountains) appear to the left or right of the main river channel that flows under the resevoir waters on the bottom.  That original river, in this case the Holston River, is still there and flowing.  As long as the boat is kept directly over the river there is no danger.  There are no mountains in the middle of the river.  But, stray left or right onto the big water called bays and you have to keep your eyes open.  Slow speed is the safest bet.  My sonar unit shows great bottom detail and I have a superior GPS unit that actually shows me the Holsten River and also my boats location on the lake.  I keep the boat directly over the river when I need to make time.  I can also insert lake points where I want on the GPS map on the unit's screen.  But even then there is no guarantee of not hitting something.  Gotta read the water too.
The mud pile above shocked me to death.  I just motored through this spot yesterday and it was clear.  No danger in sight.  Look at that scary thing in the picture.  There's actually waves breaking on it.   This one is far up German Creek at the North end of the lake.  I'm told that when the lake is lowered to the max;  that the shoreline will be at the edge of this mud pile.  Amazing.  Can you imagine what night time travel would be like on this lake?
I'll show you one more.  Above is one I've been watching materialize for a week now.  Look how far off shore it lies.  I'm amazed that TVA doesn't mark these with buoys.  When they are out of the water there's no problem.  But when their inches under the surface they can be deadly.  How bout a water skier hitting one of these after the boat pulling him hits it first!  Whew!
TVA generates a lot of power from Cherokee's generators and money talks.  The lake is a major flood control lake for the Tennessee Valley also.  I guess draw-down is necessary.  But, it's an impressive event for sure.  I'll provide pictures of the lake in a couple more weeks.  You'll think you're on the moon.  Keep in mind that Cherokee Lake is 58 miles long, runs 150 feet deep and has 580 miles of shoreline.  They can empty it practically overnight if they want or have a need to.  Amazing!