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Cast a line: Tennessee’s best fishing

For those who love to fish, Tennessee has a plethora of stocked ponds, pristine lakes and fish farms to enjoy all year long.

Fishing Dale Hollow Lake
Credit: Tennessee Tourism

With 500,000 acres (202,000 hectares) of lakes and 50,000 miles (80,000km) of streams and rivers in Tennessee, a beautiful, relaxing day on the water is right around the corner. Dale Hollow Lake is recognized as one of the nation’s premier bass fisheries, known for its rare beauty, ultra-clear water and unspoiled shoreline. Mild weather most of the year means acclaimed fishing everywhere, all the time in Tennessee. Broad, slow rivers, peaceful lakes and fast-running mountain streams continue to call fisherman to Tennessee’s sparkling waters. Pickwick Lake is a treasure because it’s actually three lakes in one, offering 12 months of fishing action and opportunities to catch all species of bass. Go out and seek adventure with a knowledgeable guide, available to lead you to some of the lesser known fishing destinations.

For skilled anglers, Tennessee’s fishing tournaments offer big prizes for big catches. Chickamauga Reservoir is home to record-setting bass—any angler looking for a good place to fish must plan an outing to this reservoir. Cast your line into some of the country’s best fishing holes—with so many lakes and rivers, it’s hard to find a spot where the fishing isn’t good.

East Tennessee

There’s nothing like East Tennessee. Watauga Lake is the most stunningly beautiful lake with mountain views in the Volunteer State. The South Fork Holston River is home to an annual spring migration of white bass. Locals say that when the serviceberry and dogwood bloom, the white bass run. Douglas Lake is rated one of the top five crappie fishing lakes in the nation, and top 10 in the nation for large mouth bass. Cherokee Lake is surrounded by farmlands and rolling hills, reporting greater fish densities than most other reservoirs. If that’s not enough, you can survey an incredible panorama of nature and history through Chattanooga’s River Gorge, also known as “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon.”

Middle Tennessee

Rolling hills and fertile valleys dot the land of Middle Tennessee. Percy Priest Lake is roughly 15 minutes from downtown Nashville, which allows fishing—enjoyed by anglers of all ages and abilities—to fit nicely into your vacation plans. Lake Barkley hosts a thriving population of crappie, largemouth and white bass, catfish, sauger and bluegill. Located on the Cumberland River just northeast of Nashville, Old Hickory Lake is where you can find great fishing, proud to hold one state and two national record catches! Managed for large bass, Williamsport Lake offers four lakes for fishing, including one (Whippoorwill) for children. Center Hill Lake provides an abundance of fish from bass to trout.

West Tennessee

Rich delta terrain covers the western third of Tennessee’s low, rolling landscape, extending from the Tennessee River to the Mississippi River. Reelfoot Lake is one of the “Natural Wonders of the World” and a natural habitat for waterfowl and bald eagles. Among 50 species of fish call Reelfoot Lake home, including large mouth bass, catfish, bream and crappie. Kentucky Lake is a magnet for fishermen, where bass fishing and tournaments occur year-round. Whether you’re fly fishing, spinning or bait casting, your chances are pretty good at Maple Creek Lake for fishermen looking to find a variety of fish.