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Winter Fishing at Fountain City Lake Made Possible by Years of Restoration Work 
Earlier today, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency stocked 350 rainbow trout in Fountain City Lake – and dozens of local anglers were enjoying a taste of urban wintertime fishing.

Here is a photo of the transfer from the TWRA truck to the lake:

A TWRA crew began stocking the lake with 350 rainbow trout at about 10 a.m. today.

And here is Curtis, the lucky angler who pulled the first trout from the lake this morning. He hauled in the catch within 30 minutes of the stocking getting underway.

Curtis pulled the first rainbow trout from Fountain City Lake on Dec. 18, 2020.

Turns out, the fish was also lucky, because Curtis today was a catch-and-release fisherman.

This is the third winter that TWRA has offered winter fishing in Fountain City.

For that to happen, though, it required years of TLC from the City’s stormwater engineers and community advocates who wanted Fountain City Lake to become a sustainable ecosystem once again.

David Hagerman, the City’s Stormwater Engineering Manager, says improving the lake’s water quality was a stipulation for TWRA offering urban fishing here.

“If there were tall weeds growing in the water, and people new to fishing were going to have a bad experience, then TWRA would not have introduced people to fishing at this lake,” he says.

Hagerman gives the lake’s current water quality a letter grade of a B-minus. “But it was probably a D or an F five years ago,” he says. “And we can get to an A if we continue doing the right things.”

How the City, the community and the much-improved lake all got to this point together is a unique story. 

It took years of persistence and patience – and, to date, a City investment of more than $750,000.

“We knew the lake restoration would take some years,” Hagerman says.

Water quality problems – thick algae, too many ducks and waterfowl fecal matter, not enough water circulation, too many invasive weeds – became more apparent more than six years ago.

So the City committed resources help the Lions Club and community volunteers address the problems and restore Fountain City Lake. (Neither the lake nor the surrounding park are owned by the City.)

Restoring Fountain City Lake began in fall 2014 with the City's repair of a leak in the lake's earthen berm, allowing water levels to be managed and the lake to reach its proper depth.

Crews then repaired the fountain and pump house to aerate the water and discourage algae growth.

In 2017 and 2018, wetlands were built and planted to improve water flow and remove stagnant, shallow areas of the lake most conducive to algae growth.

Regularly, Lions Club members, City workers and volunteers collaborate to remove invasive species, muck and algae from the lake.

Grass carp are periodically introduced, just to keep the vegetation in the proper balance.

Visitors, please don’t dump the contents of home aquariums into Fountain City Lake. The tropical fish won’t survive, and the aquarium decorative contents can wreak havoc on the spring-fed lake.

Amazingly, parrot feather from indoor aquariums has in years past taken root and proliferated to massive sizes in Fountain City Lake. That leads to painstakingly slow and hard labor, as the weeds are yanked by hand and uprooted from the bottom of the lake on a regular basis.

Here is a photo taken two Decembers ago, after crews spent two full days removing the invasive species, which had muscled out native species and choked the lake. The pile of dead weeds pulled out of the 1-acre lake in December 2018 amounted to about three truckloads of vegetation.

Invasive species of weeds pulled from Fountain City Lake in December 2018 filled three trucks.

Likewise, waterfowl at the lake should only be fed the food available from the lakeside dispensers. Feeding ducks bread products or dog/cat food can be harmful to the birds and lead to excessive excrement that counteracts the water quality steps in the lake’s management plan.

Duck food is available lakeside.

Maintaining a body of water and an ecosystem is an ongoing commitment, so there really is no finish line, Hagerman says. But with the infrastructure that’s been added and a keen sense of good stewardship by lake visitors, Fountain City Lake can continue looking good and functioning well for years to come.

How can the lake’s water quality get that cherished A grade that is Hagerman’s goal?

“People need to keep doing a good job and continue to not overfeed the ducks,” he says. “That’s an easy thing that everyone can do.

“The transient ducks from Canada – they only stay here because of the easy food. We want then to migrate on, as they normally would. There’s plenty of natural food for them – and it’s much better for the birds’ health than bread or pet food.”

Fountain City Lake on Dec. 18, 2020.

Lakeside sign at Fountain City Lake.

Here are a few more photos taken today as people enjoyed the start of wintertime fishing at Fountain City Lake:

Fishing at Fountain City Lake on Dec. 18, 2020.

Fishing at Fountain City Lake on Dec. 18, 2020.
Posted by evreeland On 18 December, 2020 at 2:28 PM