Coffee County Youth Bass Club is asking for those with live, cut Christmas trees to donate them to make fish habitats at Normandy Reservoir.
The fishing team is part of the statewide Tennessee Bass Nation Habitat and Clean Water Initiative. The group works to help maintain a more favorable living environment for aquatic life in area lakes.
In the cold months when the TVA lowers lake levels, the group establishes fish habitats for fingerling fish when released by the TWRA Fish Hatcheries in the spring.
Phillip Petty, Coffee County Head Coach of the fishing team at the high and middle school, said that Christmas trees provide a place for these young fish to hide from larger predators.
“We sink a Christmas tree with a concrete block, sometimes in 10-15 feet of water, sometimes up close to the bank,” he said.
Petty added that the trees would last 5-10 years depending on how often they are exposed to air by low water levels and currents.
According to Keep America Fishing, “Without refuge, many fish remain inactive most of the day, suspending over deep water. Adding cover provides much needed nutrition for even the smallest of species, and with this the food chain will follow.”
The decomposition process attracts minute aquatic life which provides food for small fish and in turn bait for larger ones.
Petty noted that much of the original foliage that was left when the Duck River was dammed, is now gone.
“You up in Riley Creek (branch) and you see some of the standing timber that was there, but those (trees) are starting to deteriorate. Here we are 40 years later having to replace everything,” Petty said.
To donate a tree, contact Petty on Facebook or the Coffee County Youth Bass Club. Contact Petty for directions to a drop off location on Bashaw Creek Rd.
Coffee County Youth Bass Club is a catch and release fishing team for Coffee County students age 7 and older. Teams are comprised of two students and an adult “boat driver.”
“We fish in Bass Master High School bracket and more specifically Tennessee Bass Nation. We fish four or five tournaments in the fall and four or five in the spring,” he said.
There are over 30 schools that participate in tournaments. There are 150-200 boat teams in each tournament.
Students compete for scholarships and possibly spots on the college-level teams.
Petty said that youth members of the boat team handle all aspects of fishing from working the tolling motor to changing lures.
“We try not to kill fish. Usually on a big tournament, there will be a biologist on hand to take care of fish as we put them back into the water,” Petty said.
Tournaments are held state wide. Petty said that every year he’s had Coffee County fishermen to attend the national tournament held at Kentucky Lake. Others participate in BASS Master opens.