KINGSPORT - Fishing holes that haven't seen a hook in more than 60 years are bound to hold a whopper or two for several lucky fishermen who will be permitted to test the waters inside the Holston Army Ammunition Plant in early September.
HAAP Natural Resources Manager Bruce Cole said last week the facility will hold a lottery to allow up to 16 fishermen into the facility on four different occasions beginning the weekend of Sept. 1 to fish the banks of the Holston River. The facility will allow 16 fishermen on both the Saturday and Sunday of the first two weekends in September.
"It's a really good resource that hasn't been utilized," Cole said. "We're getting calls all the time from the general public requesting access to go in there. Of course that section of the river that we're going to be utilizing is off limits to the general public because of federal law.
"There are going to be a lot of requirements and restrictions that they're going to have to comply with in order to maintain safety and security, but I think we can do that and at the same time still provide the opportunity for the public to be in there."
Among the requirements and restrictions will be an application that must be received at the plant by Aug. 25. Selection will then be made by random drawing.
The application must include the individual's name, address, age, phone number and the date or dates requested. Also including a Social Security number on the application is requested, although it is voluntary.
Those who exclude their Social Security number may delay approval or disqualify an applicant from being accepted.
The dates include Sept. 1-2 and Sept. 8-9, and will involve seven-hour sessions each day.
No boats will be allowed as all fishing will take place on the banks or by wading. Each event will be a "catch and release" only, and no live bait will be permitted.
Fishermen will be required to wear a life vest at all times, and they will be monitored by HAAP personnel throughout the seven-hour excursion each day.
Participants must be at least 13 years of age, and minors under 18 must be accompanied by a non-fishing adult 21 or older.
Despite the stringent guidelines and requirements, however, Cole said the excursion will probably be worthwhile to serious anglers.
"Fishing below the installation is really good, and the fishing above the installation is excellent as well, and you're looking at a four and half mile section of the river that probably hasn't been fished by the general public in 60 years. I'm assuming it is an excellent fishery in there."
Cole noted that the fish within the plant do migrate, and the main reason for making the event catch and release and prohibiting live bait is so that they don't impact the fishing on the river outside of the plant.
Also there is a new consumer advisory from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation warning about high mercury levels in fish from that section of the Holston River. Participants can't even keep a single trophy size fish if they catch one.
"What we'll try to do is get a photo of everyone's best fish, or something like that so they'll have some type of keepsake or proof to back up their fish stories from the trip," Cole said.
To apply send the application and a $3 application fee to Holston Army Ammunition Plant, Attn. Fishing Program, 4509 West Stone Drive, Kingsport, Tenn., 37660. Successful applicants will be notified by mail while unsuccessful applicants will not be notified.
For more information contact Cole at 578-6276.