SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Northeast Tennessee’s waterways are brimming with fish, and its lakes are home to some of the best bass fishing spots in the state.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) divides the state into four regions, with most of East Tennessee and all of Northeast Tennessee falling into Region 4. The TWRA provides online data for 11 lakes and reservoirs in the region, including which gamefish can be found, fishing hot spots in the lakes and the common length of those fish by age.
Bass fishing is a beloved activity and sport in Tennessee, as the different species and subspecies are all known for their fighting spirit and energy once hooked by an angler. Both largemouth and smallmouth Black Bass can be found throughout Northeast Tennessee’s lakes, along with Striped and Cherokee bass.
For any local angler hoping to score a big bass or visitors hoping to land their own prize while in the area, knowing which lakes offer the largest of the fish can be a critical factor.
In four Northeast Tennessee lakes and reservoirs, Largemouth and Smallmouth bass can be found in abundance. The TWRA keeps track of the common size of the fish by age, usually providing a typical length by five years old. In some waterways, bass reach six years old and longer lengths.
Before fishing for bass in any waterway, be sure to check creel and size limits specific to species.
Despite being relatively small, Boone Lake supports “impressive numbers of sport fish,” according to the TWRA. Among those are Largemouth, Smallmouth, Striped and Hybrid Striped Bass.
By the time they reach 5 years old, the common length of a Largemouth Bass in Boone Lake is 15.4 inches. The common length of a Smallmouth Bass of the same age is 16.6 inches.
Striped Bass in Boone Lake typically grow much larger, with the common length of a 5-year-old specimen being 29.9 inches.
The 393 miles of shoreline along the Cherokee Reservoir have been outfitted with a variety of constructed fish habitats over the years, the TWRA reports. The reservoir is home to Largemouth, Smallmouth, Striped and Cherokee Bass.
In addition, the Cherokee Reservoir offers a unique chance to catch paddlefish, which can easily surpass 100 pounds but are usually only able to be caught by snagging.
At 5 years old, a common Largemouth in the Cherokee Reservoir is 16.3 inches long, but those that live to 6 years old can reach 17 inches. A Smallmouth is commonly just barely longer at 16.4 inches by 5 years old.
Striped Bass in the reservoir commonly reach 27.8 inches by five years, but can grow even more to a typical 29 inches by their sixth year.
The TWRA did not provide common sizes by age for Cherokee Bass in the Cherokee Reservoir.
As a unique reservoir with a sizable portion in Virginia, the South Holston Reservoir boasts above-average water clarity and a surplus of public land open to anglers. While it does not have the variety of bass that other lakes and reservoirs possess, it does notably house Lake Trout due to its cool enough temperatures at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains.
Five-year-old Largemouth Bass do not reach the size of those found in the Cherokee Reservoir, commonly measuring 15.4 inches. Those that reach six years commonly are 17.2 inches long.
Smallmouth Bass in South Holston are commonly 15.5 inches long by five years.
A staple of the Cherokee National Forest and described by the TWRA as having “fantastic Smallmouth and very good Largemouth Bass fishing,” the Watauga Reservoir is also home to the usually smaller Spotted (Kentucky) Bass. Unlike the Largemouth and Smallmouth, there is no size limit on Spotted Bass harvested, and anglers can harvest 15 per day.
A variety of trout can also be found in the reservoir.
By age five, Largemouth are commonly 16.4 inches long and reach 17.1 inches by age six. Smallmouth are notably smaller in the Watauga, commonly reaching only 14.7 inches by age five and 16.2 inches by year six.