Fishing in Tennessee

Last updated on July 8th, 2021 at 07:45 pm. Originally published on July 7th, 2021

The state of Tennessee offers no shortage of activities to pursue outdoors. You can go hiking up trails like those at Great Smoky Mountains National Park or swimming in ponds and lakes. There are many places to go rock climbing, like the Cumberland Plateau, and you will find terrific places to go caving, like The Lost Sea Caves. One of the best things to do in Tennessee, however, is to go fishing. Thankfully, after you check the state regulations and get your license, there are fantastic spots to fish all around Tennessee. 

Two people with long fishing poles silhouetted on the shore of a lake, as the sun rises behind distant clouds.

Fishing Spots in Tennessee

Chickamauga Lake

If you love to go bass fishing, then Chickamauga Lake will provide some good fishing spots. This 60-mile-long lake is near Nickajack and Watts Bar. The best spring bass fishing is often found from where the Hiawassee Creek enters the Watts Bar Dam because it’s shallower than much of the lake, so it warms up faster. A little later in the year, consider fishing near the Tennessee-60 bridge where numerous smaller creeks enter this lake. 

Barkley Reservoir

Especially when those first few sunny days in February arrive, crappie fishing at Berkley Reservoir can be wonderful. The area between Dover and the Kentucky line can be particularly productive for early spring crappie fishing. This reservoir on the Cumberland River lies partially in Kentucky and Tennessee, so it’s essential to either stay in the Tennessee area or have both state licenses. Numerous deep-water attractions are in this lake. As the days get warmer, they can be great places to fish for largemouth bass, white crappie, bluegill, redear sunfish, white bass, catfish, and sauger. 

South Holston Lake

Once spring rains start falling, large- and smallmouth-bass fishing at South Holston Lake can be fruitful, especially from the shore. Try fishing near the underwater brush piles. Use crankbaits and stick baits to fish for bass, and you may also catch walleye and trout. Stake beds have been added to this lake, so fish for crappie near them. Residents of Tennessee or Virginia can get a special license to fish on both sides of this lake near Bristol while others will need to stay in Tennessee waters or buy both licenses. 

Center Hill Lake

Center Hill Lake near Lancaster is an Army Corps of Engineers impoundment of the Caney Fork River. If you love night fishing for largemouth, smallmouth, spotted, or black bass during the summertime, you’ll want to spend time fishing any of the larger creek arms near the middle of this lake. In particular, the area near where Falling Water River enters this lake can be a prime spot. The area near Rock Island State Park can be a fantastic spot for walleye fishing, especially in the late spring. 

 Fort Loudoun Lake

It’s hard to beat the array of catfish found at Fort Loudoun Lake, which is located near Knoxville. This lake is often home to good bass fishing in the spring. Striper and white bass fish close to the state record can be caught at this location, which is best fished from a boat. Fish deep holes during the day and flatter areas at night. 

Woods Reservoir

Woods Reservoir near Jasper is an ideal spot to go fishing in Tennessee for largemouth bass in the upper part of this reservoir where the Elk River winds through the area. The lower part of this lake offers many rocky areas where smallmouth bass love to congregate. The Tullahoma area surrounding this reservoir is a beautiful spot to go camping for those looking to get away from crowds. 

Pickwick Lake

The Bassmasters have named Pickwick Lake one of the top 100 bass lakes in the United States. It runs from Pickwick Dam near Counce, Tennessee, to Wilson Dam in Florence, Alabama. Fish near its 12-to-18-foot ledges until water temperatures reach about 80 degrees. Then, fish the deeper middle of this lake. The lake also offers outstanding catfish and crappie fishing. A three-lane boat ramp and boat rentals are available here. 

Calderwood Lake

Calderwood Lake is a fantastic place to go trout fishing. In the fall when the temperatures begin to drop, fish with large in-line spinners or baitfish-imitating plugs not far from this lake’s shoreline. This lake between Blount and Monroe Counties is surrounded by mountains on every side, with the nearest city being Maryville. There are numerous places to launch a canoe or kayak, or you can fish from the shore. 

Where to Fish in Tennessee

To make it easier to decide where to fish in Tennessee, you can divide the state into several fishing regions. The western region near the Mississippi River and the Kentucky Reservoir near Benton offers outstanding bass fishing. The Middle Tennessee region near the Harpeth River and Lock A Recreation Areas near Ashland City offers great black bass and crappie fishing. The Cumberland Plateau region, near Caney Fork Reservoir, provides the best chance to catch spotted bass and walleye in the state.

Camping and Fishing in Tennessee

Many of the best fishing areas are managed by the Tennessee Valley Authority. In addition to outstanding fishing, these areas often offer other recreational opportunities, including swimming, boating, whitewater rafting, and hiking. They can also be great places to go bird-watching. Many of them have camping facilities that are near the state’s major reservoirs. This makes them a great place to stay when fishing and camping in Tennessee. 

Before you go, read this fishing blog filled with tips that will help you find success on the water. 

With an RV rental, your fishing trip will be a little more comfortable! After you’ve spent a long day fishing, grill up your catch right at your campsite. Then, retire inside to enjoy all the comforts of home on board your RV. Plan your perfect fishing getaway with an RV rental from RVshare.

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