The headwaters of the Powell River are located in Wise County, Virginia, and the river flows approximately 80 miles through Wise and Lee counties before entering the State of Tennessee.
Powell River fishing outlook for 2005
The Powell River will provide a variety of good fishing opportunities in 2005. The river has good numbers of redbreast sunfish, rock bass and smallmouth bass. Anglers may also catch a few spotted bass, channel catfish and muskie. There are no public access points on the Powell River so anglers are encouraged to obtain landowner permission when accessing the river from private lands.
Powell River Smallmouth Bass Population Investigation
The catch rate for smallmouth bass increased from 28 fish per hour of electrofishing effort in 2002 to 58 fish per hour in 2003. In both years, sampling occurred in the spring; however, river flows in 2003 were higher than in 2002, which may account for the increased catch rate in 2003. The following table includes 2002-03 smallmouth bass catch per unit effort (number per hour) for the different size classes; (young less than 7 inches), (stock greater than or equal to 7 inches), (quality greater than or equal to 11 inches), (preferred greater than or equal to 13.7 inches).
Smallmouth bass age & growth analysis
Approximately 187 smallmouth bass were collected for age and growth analysis in 2003. Otoliths were used to age fish and catch curve analysis was preformed to estimate annual survival and mortality. The population is characterized as slow growing when compared to that of other smallmouth bass rivers within Virginia. The average smallmouth bass in the Powell River remains relatively small (192 mm or 7.5 inches). The following table shows the mean length at age for the smallmouth bass collected:
The average age of smallmouth bass within the Powell River population is 3.1 years old. The age structure for smallmouth bass in the Powell River as of 2003 is graphically displayed in the following chart.
Total annual mortality is estimated at 32%, and survival is estimated to be 68%. When the 2002-03 smallmouth bass samples are combined, only 19% of the total catch (N=257) is greater than 10 inches. The largest fish collected measured 151/2 inches.
The Powell River smallmouth bass population is slow growing and impacted by various environmental influences and sedimentation. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is currently investigating the Powell River smallmouth bass fishery and plans to evaluate the genetic stock structure of the population. The river is being evaluated for other potential fisheries and management options.