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Thread: Didymo presence in the Clinch River

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2015

    Exclamation Didymo presence in the Clinch River

    Greetings all,

    I am a researcher at Tennessee Tech University studying the pest algae species known commonly as Didymo or Rock Snot. I will be sampling soon in the Clinch River just below Norris Dam, and I was hoping the trout fishing community could assist me in my endeavor.

    Has anyone been to the Clinch recently (a week or less) just below Norris Dam, and if so, how bad was the Didymo blooming compared to the other green algae and plants present? I commonly sample in May when it is near full bloom, but was hoping to sample earlier this year. However, the sampling sight is over 3 hours away from my University and I cannot afford to make a preliminary scouting trip out. If I go and there is hardly any Didymo present, I will have wasted precious resources and time. I would be better off waiting until there is a substantial bloom, and given the interesting winter weather we have had I am uncertain as to when that will be.

    Any information or pictures you could supply from the last few weeks and the next week would be greatly appreciated! We hate this stuff just as much as the fishermen do and we are hoping to understand it better in order to come up with a solution for it.


    Andrew C. Eagar
    Tennessee Tech University

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Crossville, TN



    Hopefully someone else will chime in who has fished the Clinch recently as far as the Didymo is concerned. However, I can tell you that the flows will be much to high to gather samples. Water levels on Norris Lake are rising fast and the generation schedule looks like they will be running water for a good long while now.

    Here is the current generation schedule. Find the link the the operating guide part way down the page (just above the predicted data) and you can see that the lake is much higher than they want it right now.

    Good luck with your research!

    David Knapp
    "Then He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.'" Matthew 4:19

    Guided Fly Fishing with David Knapp
    The Trout Zone Blog
    contact: TroutZoneAnglers at gmail dot com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Great Smoky Mountains


    I fished the island last Saturday 2/28/15, here is the link below to my post last weekend. The ability to wade has been limited due to extreme weather in February combined with flow schedules. As far as last weekend the effect I have seen is minimal at best, but bear in mind it is winter. I would recommend you connect with the Clinch River chapter of TU as they have a lot of members who work for TVA and other outdoor related agencies present and retired and can expand your research. I also have to give another nod to Madisonboats on this board as he spends as much time as anyone on the Clinch and may have some great insight for you also. Good Luck!

    Last Saturday post:

    Clinch River TU link:
    "It starts with a raindrop, don't let it end with a teardrop!"

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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Knoxville, TN


    sample below the weir dam.
    The area between the weir and the main dam isn't as bad in my experience. Possibly because the water depth in the pool doesn't allow as much light to penetrate to the bottom. There is also a shoal between the millers island access & the weir dam that usually has a pretty good amount of it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2012


    Not sure why you are concentrating on the dam area for your sampling as l think the stuff is in pockets all the way to Clinton?

    If you want to save time and money you just need to ask here or the Clinch River TU for people to help you as probably many would be willing to take the samples for you.. And then simply provide the sampling methods, containers and other information. i think there are several people who may be on the river 100-130 days a year (or more) and could give you what help you need without you traveling to do it. Also many folks fish distinct areas of the river and you could get a much better river length coverage by using several samplers with difference accesses to the river. just a suggestion

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2015


    Thanks for the replies, everyone. I hadn't even taken the weather into account when considering a sampling trip. Usually, this time of year is when the dam release schedule starts to back off a bit, but with the current amount of precipitation it makes sense that they'd be releasing more. I'll have to delay my trip for that reason, in addition to an absence of didymo in the quantities I need.

    To answer the questions regarding site selection and collection, we chose that site due to the ease of access thanks to a nearby boat ramp and the fact that the river is able to be crossed with waders due to a shallow depth. We really just needed an easy place to access where didymo is found that isn't on private land, and this area just below Norris dam fit the bill. We have other sites further east that we use as well. Previously, I collected samples and brought them back to the lab at TTU to run in-house experiments on the living algae. We collected some interesting data that suggested bringing the organisms back from the site and storing them in the lab while we ran experiments on them changed their behavior in a stress-related manner and most likely killed many of the algae, skewing our results. For this trip, I'm looking to set up experiments on-site in order to minimize the potential error from transportation and storage of the organism. We are aiming to compare its nutrient uptake rates with that of beneficial organisms to see if it can out-compete them and alter the food web in a negative fashion.

    Again, thanks for the information. It looks like I'll have to wait til mid April for things to warm up enough and with the forecast for the near future being rain, rain, rain, the water levels will be too high to sample in.

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