Effects of heavy stocking on native fish
I can't help but wonder if heavy trout stocking on local tailwaters has a significant negative impact on native fish, like bass, walleye, and panfish. It is widely known and published by several biologists that trout stocking has negative effects on wild trout, so it seems that it would also negatively effect ohter native fish (even nongame species). One river that stands out in my mind is the Holston. This river is LOADED with smallmouth and largemouth bass from its confluence with the French Broad all the way upstream to Nance's Ferry. Bass numbers begin to decline from Nance's Ferry all the way up to Cherokee Dam, which just so happens to be the stretch of water that we all know is heavily stocked by TWRA with rainbow and brown trout. I'm aware that many people have caught bass in this stocked stretch, but I am afraid that it will soon be nearly void of bass, just like its northern neighbor, the Clinch River. Trout have been stocked in the Clinch tailwater (below Norris Dam) for longer than the Holston, and there are very few bass below the Dam until you get to Highway 61. I hope this will not be the case on the Holston, but I fear that it will be because of the similarities in habitat between the two rivers. Even the Little River in my native Blount County has much less aquatic diversity in the stocked section. I have a bachelor's degree in wildlife and fisheries management and I have learned enough to know why TWRA stocks these waters with trout-- MONEY! What I don't understand is why I cannot find a published scientific study on this subject. There are several published studies on the effects of stocking on wild rainbows and browns as well as native brookies, but nothing on any ohter fish species. If anyone runs across such a study, please let me know. Don't get me wrong, I love to fish both of these tailwaters for trout, and do so frequently, but imagine the potential negative effects on the fisheries as a whole. We all know that concern over just one little fish species (i.e. snail darter in the Little Tennessee in 1976) can potentially turn the fishery upside down. Granted, smallmouth are in no danger of going extinct, but that is no reason to replace them in some habitats with non-native fish. I'm sure there are people on this message board with more knowledge on the subject than me, so please share!