Friday, June 1, 2012



 The tanker truck above is assigned to the Morristown fish hatchery.  Its water tank is specially divided into four compartments.  Quantities of fish can be delivered to four different lakes if required.  It may be desirable to deliver different species to one or more lakes.  This is one of the trucks that are used to assist in the "restocking" efforts for the lakes or streams throughout the region.
I had an opportunity to help out at the Morristown hatchery this morning preparing hybrid bass for distribution to Boone and Cherokee lakes.  I'm really happy to have the opportunity to get involved in these projects as its a real learning experience for me.  Everything this agency does is extremely interesting  and I'm glad to help out.  Yesterday I worked with the state ornithologist but, that's another story.  I told you I have the best job in the world.
The pond above has been drained and the small fish collect at the bottom of the pond where the drain is located in that square, concrete pocket that you see in the lower right corner of the shot above.  The proper terminology for that concrete pocket is a "kettle."   The water level in the kettle is lower than the surrounding water that is left in the pond.  In short - it is a fish containment area.
Another shot of the kettle is above.  The water level in the kettle can be regulated by simply adding or removing the wooden boards located in the notches of the kettle walls.  Click and enlarge the picture to see what I mean.  The fish are trapped in a seine pulled through the water by two men.
 Enlarge the photo above and you get an idea of the quantity of fish these guys are catching in the seine. 
 At this point it is necessary to get the fish up to the truck.  This is accomplished by lowering a bucket with a rope attached down to the guys working in the kettle.  The bucket is held in place by the person who lowered the bucket down.  That was my job.  It requires a high degree of intelligence and diligence to be a bucket manipulator.  You get a better idea of what's going on in the next photo.

The enlargement above will show the fish in the bucket.  The guys had more fish in the net than would fit in the bucket.  I pulled the bucket up and handed it off to another coworker who handed me another bucket to lower down.  This process continued until all the fish were collected.
Once topside, the buckets of fish were weighed and the mathematical computation is applied to the weight which would reveal the total number of fish in the bucket.

Each bucket weight is called out to another coworker who records the weights on a data sheet.
The buckets are lifted to the openings on the tanker and the fish are dumped into the proper compartment. 

 Fish in the first compartment will be driven to Boone Lake and fish in the second compartment will go to Cherokee Lake.  I forget the quantities for each individual lake but, I do know we loaded 78,600 fish.  These fish are not simply divided equally between the lakes.

Biological and environmental factors play an enormous roll in the distribution of any and all species of fish to the lakes and streams.  That's where our professional and highly competent, expert TWRA biologists come into play.  The entire fish rearing and final loading operation is overseen by the hatchery manager who has the experience and knowledge to manage the rearing of fish at the hatchery.  A mistake made by him at any point in the fish rearing process could result in an insufficient quantity of fish for the stocking project.  He is a vital link in the process and his expertise guarantees success.
Today;s efforts represent only one infinitesimal operation that our reservoir fisheries group is involved in, yet is of paramount importance in the goal of maintaining healthy fisheries across our region of lakes and streams.  I hope you found the tour interesting.