RHEA COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — A recent catch at Watts Bar Reservoir is giving biologists hope that their years-long efforts of restocking the reservoir have been working.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency released that Randy Miller, of Spring City, caught a 11.22 pound largemouth bass on the reservoir and shared a photo of his catch with reservoir biologist Mike Jolley.

Jolley has more than three decades of professional experience and grew up on the lake, which was created in 1942. More than a million Florida largemouth bass have been stocked in Watts Bar Reservoir since 2015.

“In my career, I’ve never seen a largemouth this size caught on the reservoir, and I look forward to seeing more,” Jolley said. “We routinely evaluate our fisheries in reservoirs, including Watts Bar, to assess overall health of population dynamics. Some anglers have questioned the status of the bass fishery in this lake. I’m happy to share that Watts Bar has remained a consistent fishery based on long-term, routine data collection.”

TWRA explained that their reservoir crews perform yearly creel and electrofishing surveys throughout the entirety of the lake.

Over time, reservoirs decline because of many factors, including sedimentation that can cover rocky areas used for spawning, TWRA said. Additionally, nutrient loads can decrease and necessary fish habitat degrades.

Reservoir crews work to address habitat needs on a rotational basis by adding structure. Crews and volunteers recently built and added 250 structures to the lake that will be used by bass, crappie, and other fish at different stages of life. These structures can also provide a place for anglers to target fish.

According to TWRA, fall is a great time to fish, as waterways are less busy and bass begin to resume springtime patterns. To learn more about fishing and boating, visit tnwildlife.org.