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  • Spawning and Lake Levels

    Posted by bigmtfan on April 10, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    I have always wondered how much of an effect rising lake levels affect spawning. They usually start raising Priest in April, but if it’s warm enough in say March, and a fish has prepared a bed and layed it’s eggs, and that bed goes from 2ft. deep to 10ft., is that bed “lost” due to lack of sunlight/temperature?

    simplecircuit replied 10 years, 3 months ago 3 Members · 3 Replies
  • 3 Replies
  • degaman

    April 10, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    I always wondered why the spawning benches are out of water until almost summer pool.

  • krogers79

    April 10, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    I have wondered as well…they drop Priest 8-1 ft at winter pool and start to raise it about now…that has to impact the spawn somewhat. I know a spot that we fish is the perfect spot for spawning; however, I fished it last weekend with not so much as a nibble. The water was up two feet from two weeks ago when I caught a limit of keepers on the same 200 yd stretch of bank. It is a text book spawning shelf with depth ranges of 2-6 ft deep on the edge of the river channel that drops quickly into 15-20 ft of water. Either it affected them or I lost my fish catching abilities. 😀

  • simplecircuit

    April 10, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    My opinions/observations on this matter…
    1 – The fish at Priest must spawn a little deeper in the spring or a little later [after the water stabilizes]. The last several years there has been a ton of fluctuation in the lake level during the spring. Since I’m still catching short fish, I have to assume that they are spawning somewhere. Also, last year, I caught some clearly post-spawn fish in mid-June. Smallmouth spawn a lot deeper than Largemouth. So, my guess is that they are less affected by all of the fluctuations?

    2 – It seems that ever since the floods on the Cumberland a few years back that the Corps have become a little quick on the trigger to drop the lake level around March/April/May in anticipation of any rain events. Since Priest is by nature a flood control reservoir, it makes sense that they would need to manage it more aggressively against flooding – both downstream [i.e. the Cumberland] and upstream [i.e. Smyrna, Lavergne, Murfreesboro]. Although, I’m sure it messes up the fish spawns to some degree, it’s better than the alternative of flooding.

    3 – Just watched a video about bass in Florida doing partial spawns. The females will come up on beds, lay some eggs, then if there is a cold front, they will back off and finish at the next favorable opportunity. I don’t see any reason the bass at Priest couldn’t or wouldn’t do the same thing. Along these same lines, fish are able to spawn in the Cumberland, and it fluctuates a lot more frequently than Priest. Bass seem to be able to adapt to the environment that they are stuck in.

    4 – The spawn benches. Since I fish all winter long, I always see them. They are in acceptable locations. However, I don’t see why a fish would favor the bench instead of the better looking stuff that is always around them [stumps, chunk rock, etc…] I always think that more humans have probably used those benches than fish. Not only are they out of the water during most of the spawn, even at summer pool, they are rarely more than 3ft deep [at least on the lower end of the lake].

    Sorry for such a random set of thoughts, but it’s something I talk about with my partner every week at this time of year.

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