Welcome to fishing in Tennessee!
There are many reasons why
Tennessee is a leading location for sport fishing.
state of Tennessee contains more than half a million acres of impounded waters
in 22 large lakes, plus an additional 8000 miles of streams.[i]
The annual rainfall totals about
50 inches, with hundreds of miles of watershed. The winters are often
mild, and the summers are long. Best of all, almost all of the common game
fish can be found within its borders.
Piney Point Fishing Resort is located on
one of those large lakes. Watts Bar Lake lies north of Chattanooga and
south of Knoxville along the Tennessee River; it has been spoken of as one of
the most beautiful inland lakes in the United States. The lake has almost
39,000 acres of area and supports a number of sport fish. There are black
crappie, white crappie, smallmouth and largemouth bass, and several types of
catfish. There is a large population of bluegill, a favorite fishing
target of children. There are even gar, and several hybrid types of fish.
The fishing season starts early
at Watts Bar- some hopeful fishermen are out in mid March! Crappie is King
at Piney Point Resort! Many fishermen return every year for the chance of
landing that really big fish. Watts Bar Lake contains both black crappie
and white crappie. These are actually quite different fish. There
are distinct coloring and markings that are specific to each fish, and they have
different numbers of spines in their dorsal fins. Black crappie prefer
quieter, clearer water, with vegetation and structure, such as brush piles or
sunken trees. White crappies don’t mind a little more muddy
water, such as around mud bottoms. The key to finding crappie is
to look for areas providing deep cover, as they are schooling fish, and travel
in groups. Crappie feed at dawn and at dusk, and are strictly carnivorous.[ii]
Small baitfish are the principal diet for crappie, so minnows are very
successful bait. Small light-colored feathered jigs are also
popular. A small hook, sizes 2-4, should be enough; take care not to tear
the very thin membrane of the crappie’s mouth. The best crappie fishing
season is in early to mid-spring, when water temperatures are 64-68 degrees F.
Even before crappie season is
winding down in early May, it is time for bass fishing! Trophy smallmouth bass
fishing starts in May. Watts Bar Lake has smallmouth and largemouth bass.
Smallmouth bass are said to be the fiercest fighting fish for their size; they
are very active, and usually jump when hooked. Smallmouth like clearer
water and cooler temperatures. They will spawn at water temperatures 60-70
degrees F, and will also feed in the morning and in the evening.
Evaluate the type of water bottom to locate smallmouth bass- is it a sand or
bedrock bottom, without any food for the fish? Or is it a gravel and small
rock area, capable of supporting bass food supplies? Sometimes grassy
banks and rocky ledges will have something to offer a hungry SMB. SMB can
be caught with spinning and casting gear, and fly fishing tackle. As they
are carnivorous, even minnows and night crawlers can be used, although these
live baits are not as popular. They prefer brown or chartreuse baits. The
average smallmouth is smaller than many freshwater fish but landing a 4-5
pounder requires more skill and patience to land than any other fish.
Largemouth bass fishing is
legendary on Watts Bar Lake. The best months are May (swim baits) and
October (crank baits) but they can be caught year round. Largemouth bass
have been found to be able to see colors; preferred colors to fish are red,
white, silver, and black, in that order. When they are on schooling shad
minnows, the fishing can be fantastic.
Want to get your children “hooked
on fishing”? Bluegill fishing on Watts Bar is a great place to start.
Bluegill are small, pretty, and are easy for children to catch. Any kind
of pole will do, a small hook, and a grub, worm or even small balls of bread.
An easy method: put a 1 ½ inch grub four feet under a bobber next to a
rock bluff and have a ball.
Stripers are under-fished here.
They are not easy to catch, but a 20# fish is not uncommon. Fifty pounders are possible. Watch for the jumps early and late. Throw a
topwater plug first just fast enough to leave a “v” wake, then have a big
silver spoon ready for a second chance.
Finally, a very unusual trophy
fish, the gar. Some of the largest are found in Lake Chickamauga, in
Chattanooga. The best gar fishing is in July and August. They have
VERY tough hides.
With a large variety of area and
fish, there is something for every angler here in Tennessee!
New Standard Fishing Encyclopedia Holt-Rheinhart-Winston, 1975