These fish are tested every year for several chemicals of concern by state and federal authorities.
There are posted advisories not to eat these fish from Watts Bar at every boat ramp. They are tested and these fish contain high levels of mercury and PCBs. Feel free to look this information up for yourself.
While most other guide services will want you to keep their fish, I have always been a little different. The waters of east Tennessee are unique and the water quality allows for the release of these stripers. Each fish we catch has the capability to grow to enormous sizes.
The average of a 30 pound striper is 13 years old. Some of the fish we land are upwards of 20 years old.
I am not saying that eating these fish will make you sick, but there is signage not to eat them. I tend to err on the side of caution.
One of the largest manmade disasters in US history on December 22, 2008. Approximately 1.1 billion gallons of fly ash slurry emptied into the Emory and Clinch Rivers following a break in the pond walls at the Kingston Steam Plant. Any fish that is over 20 lbs lived through this and many of the sediments are still at the bottom of the river. Stripers are scavengers and there is a good chance contaminants could be in these fish. There is much more information about this disaster online.
Directly north of the Clinch River and Melton Hill Dam is the area known as the US Department of Energy Reservation.
During World War II, Oak Ridge Tennessee was the site chosen for part of the development of the atomic bomb. The area was subsequently contaminated and many of these contaminants migrated through the groundwater towards the Clinch River.
There is plenty of information about this area. There is signage at every boat ramp advising not to consume striped bass.