It's pretty obvious there is a problem, and it's a recent problem because early season when the water first went off, the fish were in outstanding condition, as good as I've seen in many years. That's not to say the high water did not cause problems..it may have just taken this long for them to show up. We've had high water before, as high as 32000 cfs as I remember and the fish did ok. The one thing I dont ever remember is the water being as low as we saw this Spring and early Summer. I saw areas sticking out of the water I have never seen before. When those normally wet areas dry out whatever life they supported dies. Think of it as a cornfield in reverse. Even a few inches of water level can uncover a whole lot of acreage. TVA was leaving the river off for 11 or 12 hours at a time during a heat wave and to top it off cleaned the weir pipes so it would drain even faster. If that wasnt bad enough it was discovered that the weir dam is cracked and therefore not doing as good a job of regulating flow as it should.
Is it an oxygen problem, a water temp problem, or a benthos problem? **** if I know. But it is a problem, like one poster said, some of the fish show it and some don't, but it does seem to be worse in the larger fish and it seems to be worse in the lower end.The water has been running a fair amount lately so if it's a temp or low flow issue things should be getting better. Not being a fisheries biologist or a hydrologist I'm just taking a stab in the dark but the water flows this year have been to say the least..erratic! There are new people in charge of river operations for TVA and I doubt they are anglers, or could give a tinker's &%$# about trout or trout fishermen.
I do know when fishing declines in certain areas, fishermen move to different areas, and not all of them are dedicated to conservation. Take a ride to the upper end these days and you'll see what I mean.