Fish consumption advisory issued for Cheatham, Dale Hollow, Center Hill lakes

Fishing on the Cumberland
Posted at 1:23 PM, Jun 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 20:21:22-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Fish from three Tennessee reservoirs have been placed under a precautionary consumption advisory by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

This is important news to people with the same pastime as Frankie Oglesby. At least one day a week, you can find Oglesby and his son fishing along the Cumberland, even if they're casting more than they're catching.

"We’ve been out since 5 o’clock this morning," said Oglesby. "It’s just relaxing just sitting here not having to worry about nothing."

But there is something to worry about if they plan to eat what they catch.

"Through that monitoring, we found contaminated bass and catfish in Cheatham Reservoir," said Jenny Dodd, Director of the Division of Water Resources for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).

TDEC said walleye and black bass fish from Dale Hollow Reservoir and black bass fish from Center Hill Reservoir had mercury levels above the 0.3 mg trigger in recent testing. Bass and catfish from Cheatham Reservoir at the Shelby Street and Bordeaux bridges tested significantly above the 0.047 mg trigger for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

PCBs are industrial chemicals that were used for several decades up until it was banned by the EPA in 1979. Some studies suggest PCBs can cause cancer and other health concerns. Dodd said expecting and nursing mothers along with children should avoid eating these fish all together, and the rest of us should limit the meals to just one per month.

The advisory for the Cheatham Reservoir extends from the Briley Parkway bridge in Pennington Bend until the Andrew B. Gibson Bridge in Cockrill Bend.

"If somebody is eating fish from that area just periodically, then they're not going to have the same level of risk. And we wanted to make sure we’re open and transparent with this information so that citizens can make their own assessments about what level of risk they feel comfortable with," said Dodd.

But even before the advisory, Oglesby's mind was already cast.

"Nope — catch and release. If I want fish I’m going to go get it from the market," he said.

It was a decision he made for taste but it's now solidified for what he doesn't want to catch.

"It’s just better fish, better quality of fish," said Oglesby.

TDEC said recreational activities like boating, swimming, kayaking and catch and release fishing are not at risk under the advisory.

Dodd said they will continue to monitor the chemical levels at all three lakes, and if they can pinpoint where the chemicals are coming from, they plan to clean them up.