I received this email yesterday evening from Ralph Artigliere, the Education Director of the Blue Ridge Chapter of Trout Unlimited. I’m posting it verbatum, with Ralph’s permission. The first part is about temperature issues in the tailrace. The second is about a landowner issue.
There are two ongoing issues with the Tailwater.
First, the delayed repair of the small generator is causing some concern. Here is the latest information from John Damer:
Here is the latest on what’s going on at the dam.
To my knowledge, the small unit has not yet been repaired successfully despite TVA’s best efforts. Apparently the parts needed to fix the issue have to be custom fabricated, resulting in long downtimes. TVA attempted to fix the unit a couple weeks ago, but they were not successful. TVA now lists the return to service date for the small unit as “TBD”, which is not a good sign. Since this small generator is not available, minimum flows are being met from the Low Level Outlet (LLO). The main unit is still working fine, and they are still using it to generate power; usually in the afternoons during expected peak power demand. These releases from the generator are currently only ~2 degrees F cooler than LLO releases, but can help dramatically in cooling the downstream end of the tailwater on hot days. TVA has agreed to schedule at least one hour of release daily from the main unit to keep the lower end of the tailwater from heating up, which is great.
I have reminded TVA on several occasions about the high quality trout fishery in the tailwater, and the need to fix the problem before late summer when cold water is most critical. The good news is that there is apparently lots of cold water stored in the lake this year. If that were not the case, we might be in a much more critical situation. Right now, temps on the lower end are near 70 degrees, but only for a few hours in the afternoon each day. Hopefully, cooling air temps will help the situation as we approach fall and right now is the worst we will see. Fingers crossed!
The second issue is that a landowner has put up signs indicating that fishing is restricted along his property along the river. This property is located between Hogback and Fishtrap. and signs are on both sides of the river. The issue is a bit complicated legally, so I will repeat verbatim here what DNR Wildlife Officer for the is area Cody Jones wrote in an email when asked about the issue. First I will start with the question posed by a landowner to DNR and then Officer Jones’ response:
START OF EMAIL EXCHANGE WITH DNR
I was wondering if this is your sign? It appeared on the property boundary of a part-time resident’s cabin. What makes it suspect is this property owner sent certified letters to adjacent riverfront property owners telling them they can no longer keep any fish they catch from the Toccoa River on the 1,000 foot stretch that is in front of his property. His justification was that he is paying for the river to be stocked with trout in front of his property and he didn’t want anyone else catching and keeping the trout.
Now this sign appeared on the bank at the upstream boundary of his property right next to an automatic fish feeder. The sign is made to look official and says, “Trout Management Area. No Fishing Next 1000 Feet. Georgia Fishery Management Council.” The only such fisheries management organization I could find is the one you belong to.
I am Officer Jones who works in Fannin County. I wanted to give you some information about the laws concerning the Toccoa River.
There is no law against a property owner putting signs on their own property. Their “No Fishing” sign is the equivalent of a “No Hunting” sign. A property owner can allow fishing and hunting or prohibit fishing and hunting on their own property. A person who owns property on one side of the river has their property line extending to the center of the river channel and there for can control the fishing on and over their property. A property owner does control the air space above their land up to a certain height. This allows them to prevent fishing from a boat that is floating over their property. Those who own property on both sides of the river can control the fishing in the entire width of the river that is over their property.
I hope this information has been informative.
END OF EXCHANGE BETWEEN LANDOWNER AND DNR
NOTE from Artigliere: The laws regarding riparian landowner rights and the ability of non-owners to traverse and fish the river in non-public areas are a bit complex. They depend on the extent of deeded ownership and whether one side or both sides of the river are owned by the person asserting the restrictions. I am not and TU is not taking a position on this circumstance of signage purportedly restricting fishing, nor are we giving any legal opinion. I am simply passing along information that one of our friends has uncovered from DNR. Let’s hope that cooler heads prevail and this situation gets resolved without hurting access to the resource. There will be an article on this in the upcoming newsletter with an update, if any. Anyone who uncovers factual information or has an experience with this that helps clarify the facts, please let me know.