The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission elected its officers for 2023-24 and honored four outgoing commissioners at its February meeting, held at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Region II Ray Bell Building.
Tommy Woods, Piney Flats, was elected as the chairman after serving as vice chairman the past year. Jimmy Granbery, Nashville, moved into the vice chairman role after serving as secretary, and Chris Devaney, Lookout Mountain, is the new commission secretary.
The TWRA also honored members of the commission who are completing their appointments. Chairman Angie Box, Jackson, Brian McLerran, Moss, and Kent Woods, Kodak, are completing their six-year appointments while Steve Jones, Clinton, served four years. Former commissioner Jim Ripley, who resigned his position last summer after being elected as a circuit court judge in East Tennessee, was also recognized.
Brandon Simcox, TWRA river and stream coordinator, gave a presentation on the smallmouth bass harvest on Tennessee streams. Objectives of the project were to estimate fishing mortality, release/harvest rate, who the anglers are, and for evaluating regulations. A total of 13 representative rivers and streams were selected for the sampling.
So far, 87 smallmouth bass have been caught for the study. Ten out of 67 that were legal to harvest averaged 14 inches in length. Zero out of 20 would have been harvested if legal (occurred in East Tennessee streams). The fish caught were an average of 3.5 miles from release location. Majority of the fish were caught on artificial baits, and most were caught April to June. Anglers were highly satisfied with their fishing experience, rating an average of 4.2 out of 5. Going forward, six additional streams will be sampled in 2023.
TWRA Fisheries Division Assistant Chief Jason Henegar gave a preview of TWRA’s involvement in the Bassmaster Classic in Knoxville March 24-26. The agency will facilitate fish care and release and water risk management. Agency staff will also promote the Bill Dance Signature Lakes and have educational materials at the Outdoor Expo and the TVA booth.
The 2019 event, which was also hosted in Knoxville, attracted a crowd of almost 154,000 from across the United States and multiple countries. The classic had a $32.2 million impact for Knoxville and East Tennessee.
TWRA Bird Conversation Coordinator David Hanni reported on a proposal to make Nashville an Urban Bird Treaty City. Goals of the program are to support partnerships of public agencies, non-government organizations and local communities to conserve birds in urban areas.
The program includes protection, restoration, and enhancement of urban habitats for birds, reduction of urban hazards, education, and engagement in caring for and conserving urban birds and their habitats. TWRA has been working in partnership with Davidson County to submit the treaty application to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in mid-February.
Dr. Dave Buehler of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville gave a summary of quail capture efforts and preliminary findings from the Quail Research Project being conducted on several wildlife management areas. The vision of the project is to make WMAs focal areas for quail habitat. There is a comprehensive enhancement plan for each of the focal areas.
An overview of TWRA’s R3 (Recruitment, Retention, Reactivation) and marketing efforts was given. R3 is an initiative to get people outdoors to take advantage of the natural resources Tennessee has to offer, and the agency has continued efforts to keep people hunting and fishing.
TWRA also recognized outstanding staff members who have served the agency and the public well. Lt. Col Glenn Moates of the Boating and Law Enforcement Division was honored upon his retirement. He concluded his 36-year TWRA Law Enforcement career Jan. 31. He served as wildlife officer to begin his career and was influential in the creation of the agency’s chaplain program. He personally ministered to natural disaster victims, accident survivors, and TWRA staff faced with challenging times.
Perita Johnson was introduced as the Information Technology Division Professional of the and Year for 2022. An employee of TWRA since 2007, she serves as the project manager-associate and plays a critical role in keeping agency information updated.