The state of Tennessee is home to some of the best bass fisheries with a great range of diverse habitats. The state has it all, from the Tennessee River lakes and their big largemouth to rocky and clear smallmouth waters. It can also claim to be the home of the world record smallmouth bass, an 11 pound, 15-ounce bass caught in 1955.
Here are five of the top fisheries in Tennessee:
1) Lake Chickamauga
Since the state added Florida-strain largemouth bass and hybrids, the lake has taken off and burst onto the national scene. Big bass over ten pounds and heavy winning tournament weights put this lake on the forefront and turned it from a sleeper to a bucket list for anglers everywhere.
Like other lakes on the Tennessee River, TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) chain, the current is the biggest factor here. The summer months produce excellent fishing on the offshore river ledges with anglers throwing big crankbaits, soft plastics, hair jigs, and finesse tactics. It is also home to expansive fields of aquatic vegetation, making it an excellent lake for fishing a frog or punching grass.
Since it is such a famous lake, expect to see many other bass boats aiming for a giant bass on “the Chick,” like the 15 pound, 3-ounce magnum caught in 2015.
2) Pickwick Lake
Alabama and Mississippi can also claim this lake on the Tennessee River chain since the large body of water touches three states, but there’s plenty to go around. With nearly 500-miles of shoreline, it’s a big lake that is heavily influenced by current.
It is best known for the excellent offshore ledge bite with crankbaits, flutter spoons, and big jigs during the summer, but it has more to offer. With an abundance of aquatic grasses, there is also a solid bite in shallow water. Largemouth get the most attention here, but it is home to some giant smallmouth bass that can be found throughout the lake, especially in the tailraces beneath the dam.
3) Dale Hollow
Smallmouth bass are the name of the game at Dale Hollow, as the world record bronzeback was caught here. That 11 pound, 15 ounce bass is still the mark to beat for all smallmouth fans. While a bigger one hasn’t been caught there since, many big ones swim in the nearly 28,000-acre lake.
While smallmouth are the biggest draw here, the beautiful scenery is an added bonus. The lake is also home to largemouth bass that you can catch in many different ways.
4) Tennessee River, Fort Loudoun, and Tellico Lakes
The Tennessee River itself is home to plenty of bass, making it worthy of a spot on the list; the addition of Tellico and Loudoun lakes make it an even more deserving entry. This was the home of the 2019 Bassmaster Classic won by local pro Ott DeFoe.
Both smallmouth and largemouth are represented here and both grow big and healthy. It is a pick your poison body of water and there are countless ways to catch fish here.
5) Cherokee Lake
Located just outside of Knoxville, the nearly 29,000 acre Cherokee Lake is home to a healthy bass population, notably the smallmouth. In professional tournaments held here, the bronzeback dominated the events and led anglers to the win.
There are plenty of tactics at play and traditional smallmouth techniques like finesse fishing with Ned Rigs and drop-shot rigs are top producers. But, what makes it so popular is the sheer number of quality smallmouth that seem willing to bite just about any lure you want to use.
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