Trutta Environmental Solutions

Predicting Recreational Angler Success: A Test Case for Old Hickory Lake, Tennessee

Dr. Parham spoke about some ongoing work at the 2011 Tennessee Chapter of the American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting. The talk’s title and abstract were:

Predicting Recreational Angler Success: A Test Case for Old Hickory Lake, Tennessee

A common axiom in fishing is “90% of the fish are in 10% of the water.” For most recreational anglers understanding where prime habitat exists is a hit or miss proposition given the myriad of physical habitats, changing environmental conditions, and shifting behavioral patterns of the target fish. The “secret” to consistently catching fish is a combination of prior experience, local knowledge, and technical proficiency.  In contrast to recreational anglers, fisheries managers routinely develop habitat suitability models that predict the distribution of fish habitat while accounting for life history and environmental variations. In an effort to translate complex habitat suitability models into information useful to recreational anglers, a map-based fishing location prediction model is being tested for Old Hickory Lake. Physical habitat characteristics including depth, lake section, habitat type, cover, slope, and shoreline type were mapped and then processed into overlapping grids that classify important fish habitats. Temporally changing environmental conditions are predicted from real-time information and include variables such as water temperature, season, current, fetch, and weather. Fish distribution and behavior information is gathered from a range of sources and is stored in a relational database. The various maps are weighted by the suitability of each variable for a species and then combined into an overall habitat suitability map that is regenerated on a daily basis. The goal of the effort is to provide anglers a predictive map that will highlight the lake areas containing the majority of the active fish for any date and weather condition.

One output from this effort was a google map of all the boat ramps on Old Hickory with pictures and descriptions (see map below). As of August 28, 2013 there were over 9,300 views of the map product by interested boaters.

View Boat Ramps and Marinas on Old Hickory Lake, Tennessee in a larger map