Tennessee

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Top 10 Fishing Destinations in Tennessee

Tennessee’s geography is criss-crossed with hundreds of bodies of water, making it not only home to the world capital for live musical performances, but to some of the best bass and catfish angling in the United States.

Tennessee’s state gem isn’t a diamond or a sapphire or a ruby. Fishing is an integral part of Tennessee culture, and the people of Tennessee value its river and lake ecosystems so much that the state gem is the Tennessee River pearl, which can be found inside the freshwater mussels that live in the waters close to home.

Grab your rod, boat, and radio and head down to any of these top ten fishing spots in Tennesee


Types of Catch Available

Freshwater

chinook salmon

Chinook Salmon

sockeye salmon

Sockey​​​​e Salmon

coho salmon

Coho Salmon

pink salmon

Pink Salmon

raindbow trout

Rainbow Trout

cutthroat trout

Cutthroat Trout

brown trout

Brown Trout

brook trout

Brook Trout

White Bass

White Bass

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass

smallmouth bass

Smallmouth Bass

spotted bass

Spotted Bass

Striped Bass

Carp

northern pike

Northern Pike

walleye

Walleye

bullhead catfish

Bullhead Catfish

Bluegill

Bluegill

yellow perch

Yellow Perch

Crappie

Crappie

Pumpkinseed Sunfish

Channel Catfish

Channel Catfish

State Fishing Records

Top 10 Fishing Spots Across Tennessee

Pickwick Lake

Pickwick Lake

Pickwick Lake is located in Pickwick Landing State Park, located south of the Pickwick Dam and 14 miles south of the city of Savannah, in the county of Hardin. The park is well-kept and the lake and river are a popular spot among locals.

Some of the many species of fish that you can catch at Pickwick are smallmouth and largemouth bass, blue catfish, bluegill, and channel catfish. Pickwick Lake is widely regarded as one of—if not the—best smallmouth bass fisheries in the entire U.S. Smallmouths range from 2 to 3 pounds, but 5- to 6-pound fish are also common.

Early spring is the best time to catch smallmouths in the tailwaters, as the fish prepare for the spring spawn. Post-spawn, the smallmouths scatter to rocky areas around the entire lake.

 During the fall, smallmouths will return to the tailwaters in search of tasty food (and fishing lures) to gobble. Try baiting with some of their favorite meals—threadfin shad, grayfish, and minnows. In spring, crayfish are especially effective.

Reelfoot Lake

Reelfoot Lake

We don’t usually associate the Southeast with earthquakes, but Reelfoot is a huge natural lake partially formed by a series of big earthquakes that shook Tennessee in the early 1800s. Reelfoot is best known for its great bluegill and crappie fishing, especially in the spring. Reelfoot is truly a year-round fishing spot, and the scenery in all four seasons is equally amazing.

 We recommend boat fishing to cover more surface area and reach the best fishing spots along the lake shore, but it’s also a great place for shore angling and pier fishing.

Center Hill Lake

Center Hill Lake

Center Hill is an enormous lake that stretches for 18,220 whopping acres. Fish can be caught year-round at Center Hill Lake. It is a premium catfish and bass fishing spot and you’ll catch bass of all kinds here. The fish species found in Center Hill Lake include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, striped bass, white bass, spotted bass, rock bass, walleye, sunfish, catfish, crappie, and bluegill.

During the spring, high water and cooler weather can make fishing very difficult at Center Hill Lake, but weather conditions improve in the summer.


Cordell Hull Lake

Cordell Hull Lake

Cordell Hull Lake is a lake located in the winding Cumberland River in central northern Tennessee, just 40 miles east of Nashville. The lake stretches for 12,000 acres and it’s a great fishing spot for catching smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, spotted bass, crappie of all species, catfish, striped and hybrid striped bass, white bass, yellow bass, walleye, sauger, paddlefish, rock bass, redear sunfish, and bluegill. Most anglers come here for the bass and walleye.

 The lake features the Cordell Hull Dam, and scenic views of tree-covered lakebanks that turn into various hues of gold, red, and green in autumn.

Lake Barkley

Lake Barkley

Lake Barkley is a nearly 60,000-acre reservoir that touches Stewart County and Houston County in Tennessee. The average depth of the lake is 15 feet, and you can catch white crappie, black crappie, bluegill, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, channel catfish, blue catfish, flathead catfish, walleye, striped bass, yellow bass, warmouth, redear sunfish, white bass, hybrid striped bass, sauger, and paddlefish at Lake Barkley.

The lake features many amenities for anglers, including a marine, boat rental, boat launches, local bait and tackle shops, and campgrounds. Lake Barkley is consistently ranked one of the top-ten best bass fisheries and lakes to fish in the southeastern U.S.

Cast your line near brushes, treetops, and the stony lakebed to catch largemouth bass. If you’re looking for crappie, drop your hook into shallow water, no more than 5 to 10 feet deep, near the brushes.


Percy Priest Lake

Percy Priest Lake

Percy Priest is a popular year-round fishing lake. You can catch all species of bass, including striped bass, largemouths, smallmouths, white bass, rock bass, and Cherokee bass at Percy Priest, but there are also a good amount of sunfish, walleye, rockfish, trout, bluegill, catfish, and crappie. A few lucky anglers have also managed to snag an incredible fish called the bigmouth buffalo. The bigmouth buffalo belongs to the sucker fish family, and it can live for a century or more. Adult bigmouth buffalo weigh upwards to 39 pounds!

If you catch a bigmouth, we highly recommend catch-and-release, as this North American native fish is declining in numbers, and it doesn’t reproduce frequently.


Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake is a pristine reservoir that runs along the Tennessee River in the states of Kentucky and Tennessee. The lake spans for 250 square miles, and it drops up to 75 feet deep at its lowest point.

Kentucky Lake is home to catfish, white bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, sunfish, sauger, chain pickerel, yellow perch, buffalo carp, black crappie, and white crappie. Record-breaking fish swim through the lake’s waters, and the lake holds the record for not one, not two, but three of the largest of three different fish species ever caught in Kentucky: the record for white bass (5 lbs), yellow perch (20 ozs), and Buffalo carp (55 lbs).

Take your family to visit two of Kentucky’s state parks. To the north, there is the Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park, and to the west, there is the Kenlake State Resort Park.

Kentucky Lake is surrounded by relatively flat terrain in many areas. If you go fishing in the late afternoon, the view of the sunlight glistening off the lake’s waters is breathtaking and serene.


Gibson County Lake

Gibson County Lake

The Gibson County Lake, located in Trenton, Tennessee, just off of Highway 45, is split into a Recreational Zone and a Fishing-Only Zone that spans over 200 acres of water. The lake is stocked with Florida largemouth bass, northern largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, white crappie, black crappie, blue catfish, and channel catfish.

The lake’s amenities include handicapped-accessible public restrooms, a fishing pier, and a fully-stocked bait-and-tackle shop, where you can also purchase a fishing license or permit.


Dale Hollow Reservoir

Dale Hollow Reservoir

Dale Hollow Lake was recently ranked the #4 Lake to “Float Your Boat” by USA Today. The lake is stocked with a variety of amenities and activities for anglers and their families, including fishing, hiking, biking, birdwatching, and golfing.

The temperature of the lake ranges between 45 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and the maximum depth of the lake is 130 feet. Dale Hollow provides an unparalleled shore and boat fishing experience, due to the restrictions placed on private boat docks, and the removal of trees, shrubbery, and other obstructions on the shoreline.

Dale Hollow National Fishery is the biggest U.S. federal trout hatchery east of the Mississippi River. Over 1.5 million trout are produced each year—that’s 300,000 pounds of fish waiting to be caught! You can catch smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, trout, or muskellunge at Dale Hollow reservoir.


Old Hickory Lake

Old Hickory Lake

Old Hickory Lake has a wide variety of fish species, including sauger, pumpkinseed, crappie, carp, bluegill, bullhead, redear sunfish, spotted bass,white bass, walleye, channel catfish, panfish, flathead catfish, largemouth bass, blue catfish, warmouth, paddlefish, hybrid striped bass, and striped bass.

The lake is a 23,000-acre reservoir located in central northern Tennessee. The shoreline stretches for 440 miles, but fishing by boat and kayak is also popular. During the spring and autumn, fish in the shallow waters, and move towards deeper creek channels, points, ledges, and structure in the summer and winter months.


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