Andreas Fath is swimming in a river that contains an incredible variety of aquatic life. There are more fish, freshwater mussels, snails, insects, plants and other forms of life in the Tennessee River system than there are anywhere else in North America. Varieties of fish species in particular abound.

More than 270 different kinds of fish inhabit the entire Tennessee River watershed, which includes the many streams and rivers that feed into the Tennessee River. The portion of the Tennessee River that swings through Alabama is known for its many varieties of fish, some of which are unknown in other parts of Alabama. More than 175 kinds of fish can be found in the Alabama watershed of the Tennessee River.

Blue Catfish

Blue catfish at the Tennessee Aquarium. Photo by Thomsonmg2000 Creative Commons.

Not surprisingly, the Alabama portion of the Tennessee River, which Andreas has been swimming in for more than a week now, is a prized location for sport fishing. Favorite game fish for anglers in the Alabama portion of the Tennessee River include smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, sauger, blue catfish, bream, buffalo, and freshwater drum.

Freshwater Drum

Freshwater drum. Photo by Mike Cline Creative Commons

Many Alabama state record catches have been made on the Tennessee River and its various reservoirs (dammed lakes).

Here are a few:

  • Smallmouth Bass – 10 pounds, 8 ounces – Wheeler Dam tailwaters
  • Blue Catfish – 111 pounds (former record) – Wheeler Lake
  • Buffalo – 57 pounds – Guntersville Reservoir
  • Freshwater Drum – 41 pounds, 8 ounces – Wilson Reservoir
  • Grass Carp – 73 pounds – Guntersville Reservoir
  • Paddlefish – 52 pounds, 12 ounces – Wilson Dam tailwaters
  • Silver Redhorse – 14 pounds, 14 ounces – Wilson Dam tailwaters
  • Sauger – 5 pounds, 2 ounces – Wilson Dam tailwaters
Smallmouth bass.

Smallmouth bass.

Andreas and the team have been focused on the mission of swimming the Tennessee River and sampling its water quality, so they haven’t had time for lazy fishing days.

But there is no telling how many different kinds of fish have been surprised to observe the unusually fast human swimming determinedly across the surface of the Tennessee River.



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