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The Guide to Fishing in Tennessee

With 2,115 miles of rivers flowing through the Great Smoky Mountains Park alone, it is no wonder that fishing enthusiasts flock to Tennessee! Experienced fishermen and beginners alike can find a beautiful catch within these bodies of water as they are filled with a variety of terrific fishing specimen. Take hold of your fishing rod, snag some bait, purchase a fishing license and let’s hit the Tennessee waters!


What to Fish

There are many varieties of fish available for anglers who venture to explore the waters of the Tennessee lakes and streams.  There are spotted bass, sturgeon, silver carp, walleye, yellow perch, and the native Appalachian brook trout among many others.

Some fish are forbidden to be caught within the state’s waters or in the Great Smoky National Park because of protection laws and must be released if caught:

-Smoky MadtomAppalachia Brook Trout

-Spotfin Chub

-Duskytail Darter

-Pygmy Madtom

-Nashville Crayfish


Also take note on the endangered list website so that you don’t run into trouble on your fishing trip. With well over 100 varieties of fish that are perfectly fine to catch, you don’t really have to worry about being too restricted because those trout and perch make for good trophy pieces and yummy eats!

Where to Fish It

Because of seasonal changes, best fishing spots vary from fish to fish and from season to season. Good thing that there are lots of waterbodies to choose from !

  • If you find yourself in Eastern Tennessee, fishing within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s many fishing spots would be an exciting opportunity. The Appalachian Brook Trout is the most popular and abundant fish in those streams. Be sure to steer clear of some streams where fishing is illegal, like the Lynn Camp Prong upstream where it meets with Thunderhead Prong and the Bear Creek where it merges with the Forney Creek.
  • Western and Central Tennessee boast excellent catfish in their streams and lakes!  Fish in the Tennessee River, Pickwick Lake, Woods Lake, Reelfoot Lake, and J. Percy Priest Lake for some truly great catches.
  • There are many choices for where to fish when in Tennessee and here are some of the other lakes, streams, and bodies of water to put on your list of fishing holes: Norris Lake, Center Hill Lake, Sugar Creek, Stones River, Old Hickory Reservoir, Melton Hill Reservoir, Holston River, and others that can be seen here along with the trophy fish that were caught there.  The most variety of species is available in Watauga Lake and Dale Hollow Lake in Northern Tennessee.

Award Winning Catch

There have been many award-winning, record-breaking fish caught in the waters of Tennessee such as the 62-pound bigmouth buffalo fish caught in J. Percy Priest Lake, the 5 lb 8 oz. Center Hill Lake spotted bass, or the ever record breaking rainbow trout found in the mountain streams (the record is currently held by a 16 lb 15 oz rainbow trout).  Head down to try and earn everlasting fame by catching the fish that breaks all of the records!

Bigmouth Buffalo

The thrill of competition could lead to you walking away with a great cash prize, bragging rights, and a trophy winning catch if you participate in any events such as the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundaton Fishing Tournament.  Check the Tennessee fishing tournament website for more.

Fishing in Tennessee is an adventure for everyone involved. There are lakes, streams, and creeks filled with glorious catch, so wait no longer, get to Tennessee and fish, fish, fish to your heart’s content!

About the Author:


Having spent all his life in the South (namely, Tennessee) and now running a rental Gatlinburg cabins business , Bob Foster is a passionate expert on everything fun to do in that region of the country. Bob is a guest writer on many blogs and writes his own Smoky Mountain Travel Guide blog, which can be found at


  • RidinWind
    Posted September 30, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    While I am sure that the fishing is good – the Motorcycle Riding in East TN is the best!

  • RonLeyba
    Posted October 15, 2010 at 2:50 am

    I tell you, that was really a huge fish!. I never tried any fishing activity though I really wanna do it sometimes. I hope I can find time for it.

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