GREENE COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Fishing is one of Tennessee’s favorite pastimes, and anglers in East Tennessee have the opportunity to take in some gorgeous scenery while landing world-class freshwater fish.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) Fishery Biologists John Hammonds, Shaun Ramsey and Alan Beach spoke with News Channel 11 about the beautiful sights anglers can take in and some of the best spots to appreciate Tennessee’s views while casting a line.
“It borders the Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest,” Beach said. “Very scenic, and there’s actually some really good largemouth and smallmouth [bass] there.”
According to Beach, the largemouth bass in Chilhowie can reach impressive sizes, with his team electrofishing and catching one that was over six pounds.
Beach said the bordering national forest is laden with nearby trails and access for nature-goers and offers beautiful views while fishing.
“It’s very clear water; it’s pretty, no houses on the lake — it’s very scenic,” Beach said. “It’s out of the way, but you’re not gonna see a ton of fishermen up there.”
Clinch River & Powell River
For those who prefer scenic rivers to lakes and reservoirs, Hammonds recommended the Clinch and Powell Rivers.
“The Clinch and Powell Rivers that flow into Norris [Lake] are also kind of out of the way and there’s some newer access areas that you can put in, especially like kayaks and smaller boats,” Hammonds said.
Hammonds told News Channel 11 that there are also some public islands used for overnight camping and fishing in the rivers.
The Clinch River flows through Tennessee and most of Southwest Virginia, and the Powell River runs parallel to its waters north of Norris Lake and Knoxville. Both waterways offer a wide variety of fish, with the Clinch being noted for trout by Trout Zone Anglers and the Powell being noted for its smallmouth and rock bass by Visit Knoxville.
Located in Greene County, Paint Creek is a small but stocked fishing spot.
“I know Paint Creek, a lot of people frequent for that,” Hammonds said. “Some hiking trails, biking trails, a little campground there, and that is a place that is actually stocked.”
Paint Creek is part of the Cherokee National Forest, which Hammonds said rivals the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in terms of streams for trout fishing and overnight camping. Hammonds described Paint Creek and the Cherokee National Forest as a hidden gem for fishing and scenery.
The U.S. Forest Service describes the Paint Creek Campground as a spot “tucked away in a mountain cove” with streamside views and lots of vegetation. The Forest Service also notes that the campground is an excellent spot for trout fishing.
While larger and not quite as out of the way as the Chilhowie Reservoir, Ramsey said the Watauga Reservoir nestled in Northeast Tennessee is a beautiful spot that features some large potential catches.
“It’s a really scenic reservoir, and also it’s really good for big fish,” Ramsey said. “We see a lot of big smallmouth out there, a lot of big largemouth and a lot of big walleye.”
The reservoir has 106 miles of shoreline if you don’t have a boat to take out, and a huge swath of the land is public and open for any fishing. As a high-elevation reservoir, the mountains near the Tennessee-North Carolina border provide anglers with breathtaking views.
Watauga Reservoir is also home to a lake trout fishery, which Hammonds said is impressive given how far south the reservoir is in the continent. The Tennessee state record for a lake trout was caught in the Watauga Reservoir in 2008 and weighed 22 pounds and 2 ounces.
“There’s not very many places in the whole Southeast you can catch a lake trout,” Hammonds said.
The reservoir can be accessed in both Carter and Johnson counties.