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Tennessee Valley

P.O. Box 157
Greeneville, TN 37744
(423) 638-4177
FAX (423) 638-3328
News Article
Fish biting better now than they have all year
By: Larry Self

Spring has finally sprung across the
Tennessee Valley.

Don't get it all wrong though, there will
still be a few cold days and nights before
we're out of the woods. Best news is fish
are biting now better than they have all
year so far.

Crappie are on fire on many lakes
moving to shallow water in search of
spawning banks. They're as shallow as
you'll catch them all year. The catfish
action is starting to pick up on regular
baits as well as limb lines and

Bream have made their first real
appearance as well on a few lakes and
will only get better. It's also largemouth
and smallmouth time on just about
anything you want to throw, but keep
spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and crankbaits
within reach at all times.

East Tennessee
Chickamauga Lake
Guide Benny Hull is all over some nice
crappie on Chickamauga Lake. He said
they're still a little scattered, but Hull is
catching them by slow trolling tube jigs as
small as 1/32-ounce. He said he's
catching a lot of fish with days of
anywhere from 30 to 50 fish. Out of those
numbers 10 or 12 will be slab crappie
with the biggest going more than 2
pounds. The water temperature has
come up to 61 degrees.

Hull is also catching mostly
largemouths now as they move shallow.
It's definitely a Rat-L-Trap deal right now.
He said they haven't caught anything
really big, but the number of 2 to 3-pound
largemouths will keep your interest.

Fort Loudoun Lake
Fishermen are doing well on Fort
Loudoun and neighboring Tellico. Angler
Benny Kiser said the last two bass
tournaments have been very productive
with it taking more than 20 pounds to win
each of them.

Most of the bass are largemouths, and
they're killing crankbaits, spinnerbaits,
and jerkbaits. A few quality smallies are
also being boated. One lunker
largemouth weighed 7.8 pounds and a
number of smallies more than 6 pounds
have been found.

Find them next to rocky points near
deep water and around pea gravel coves
on pretty days.

The water temperature is 60 to 66
degrees, and crappie are responding as
well. The best crappie bite is coming by
trolling hair flies and small Bandits
in Turkey Creek. Benny said you'll catch
one keeper per every 10 crappie.

Douglas Lake
Chuck Leach out of Indian Creek Dock
on Douglas Lake said the bass fishing
isn't what he'd like to see yet, but the
crappie are making up for it.

The water has quickly warmed to 58
degrees. A few sauger and stripes are
hitting along with catfish, but the word is

Crappie are biting good as they move
into the banks. Find them in 3 to 10 feet
of water off brush and rocky points.
Chuck said Douglas crappie anglers are
catching limits now. You'll need a healthy
supply of minnows and flies.

Boone Lake
Bass tournament angler Charles
Graybeal said Boone has warmed to 56
degrees, and largemouths have taken
note along with a few smallies.

Crankbaits like the Deep Little-N with a
lavender back are getting it done.
Crawfish patterns will also work this time
of year.

Charles said there's also an early
jerkbait bite in the mornings, and then it's
strictly a crankbait situation. Smallies
prefer the jerkbaits off channel points
early, and then largemouths take over on
crankbaits on rocky secondary points
moving back into creeks and coves.

Watauga Lake
Watauga is slower to warm than most
other lakes. This highland reservoir is
still standing at 45 degrees. That's okay
for tournament angler Rick Chappell
because the smallies are still suspended
and prime for the taking with the
Float-N-Fly. Get them while they're hot,
this may be your last chance of the year
with a bobber.

Chappell recently boated nine smallies
on the lower end of the lake with the five
biggest weighing more than 23 pounds.
The biggest one to fall for the bobber
technique was a 6-pound, 6-ounce
beauty. Other anglers are also catching
them on jerkbaits and crankbaits.

South Holston Lake
Tournament angler Donald Ensor is
on a good smallmouth bite on Holston
Lake now. Things have been pretty tough
until recently but with water temperatures
warming up slightly to 50 degrees, the
smallies are starting to take notice and
make the first real move back to
springtime waters.

You can find them and catch them off
secondary points going back into creeks
and coves and also just inside the first
turns going back in off the main

The best thing happening for some
really quality smallies is either a jerkbait
or spinnerbait as they move toward
spawning banks.

Norris Lake
Bass fishing has definitely not peaked
on Norris Lake. Cody Fritz at Cedar Grove
Marina said the last tournament produced
a winning weight of 4 pounds in one fish.
Still, a decent largemouth bite can be
found on crankbaits on shallow, rocky
points. Steeper rocky points are where
you'll find a little better smallmouth action
on crankbaits.

The lake has been very muddy but is
clearing just in time for a moderate
crappie bite. Cody said you can catch
them in 15 to 20-foot depths on hair flies
tipped with minnows near brush.

Melton Hill Lake
Melton hill is no shining star this
month. Christopher Henderson at One
Limit Bait Shop actually recommended
you go elsewhere for a few days. He said
it's horribly tough with water temperatures
ranging from 57 to 63 degrees depending
on how much they're pulling the lake.

The latest Monday evening tournament
produced a whopping 5-pounds for the
winners. The lake is also unstable as far
as color and level.

Christopher said the ones catching the
few bass that are biting are doing so on
spinnerbaits, small jigs, and Bandit

Cherokee Lake
Bass are starting to hit a little bit but
not a lot yet as they transition to spawning
areas in a staging mode. Darrell Craft at
Hamblen County Dock said they're biting
on spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and
Rat-L-Traps in shallow water. A few good
smallies are still showing up. The water
temperature is 60 degrees.

Crappie are biting if you know where to
locate brush in 10 to 12 feet of water.
Flies tipped with minnows are best.
White bass are running up river
from Point 25 up.

Rockfish aren't really up the river
where they should be this time of year.
Craft said they're scattered from Point 21
to Point 25 and also in German

Watts Bar Lake
Bass are starting to come in regularly
now at Watts Bar Lake. Dale Baldwin at
Lakeside Resort said spinnerbaits,
jerkbaits, and jigs are getting the job

The water temperature is 61 to 62
degrees over the lake, which has come
up three feet in recent days.

Baldwin also said a lot of small
crappie are being caught just under the
keeper mark—a lot of them.

Catch them on jigs tipped with
minnows and plain minnows over
treetops, laydowns, and brush.

Middle Tennessee
Tims Ford Lake
The crappie fishing is starting to pick
up a little on Tims Ford. The 60-degree
water is producing some good slabs.
Pitts Clayton at Tims Ford Marina said
crappie fishing is the best thing
happening as they've moved shallow into
2 to 10-foot depths over treetops. Catch
them on plain minnows.

Anglers are catching the occasional
largemouth and smallmouth bass, but
Pitts said everybody's in the crappie
mode now. The striper action is slow and
needs to pick up with a big striper
tournament coming into town soon.

Old Hickory Lake
The water temperature is 58 to 59
degrees on Old Hickory and Flipper at
Flipper's Bait & Tackle said it's helping.
Most bass are coming in on spinnerbaits
and jigs-mostly jigs. A few good stringers
are also being taken on Rat-L-Traps, and
the bass have moved shallow. The
biggest largemouth lately was around 7

A few crappie are hitting. They're mostly
small but will take jigs and minnows in 2
to 10 feet of water. Some good rockfish
are hitting. The only problem is they're
stealing high-dollar jerkbaits from
largemouth anglers.

Percy Priest Lake
Guide Jim Duckworth said there's a
great crankbait and spinnerbait bite going
on all over Percy Priest for smallies and
largemouths. The water has warmed
quickly to more than 60 degrees. In the
last bass tournament you would have
needed nearly 17 pounds to get a check
while the winners weighed in more than

The crappie fishing is excellent on
Charlie Brewer Slider Grubs and
Blakemore Roadrunners in both shallow
and deep water. Jim said the crappie are
in transition and about to be right. Catfish
are already starting to show up after dark
on jugs baited with Worm-Glo worms.

Cordell Hull Lake
The water temperature at Cordell Hull
is running 54 to 58 degrees and some
good bass fishing can be found. Paul
Stanley at Granville Marina said the
biggest largemouth he's seen caught
lately weighed right at 8 pounds. Several
4 to 6-pound bucketmouths have been
caught. The word is to catch them on
windy banks on crankbaits and

A few crappie are biting and are your
second best bet for a good day. Stanley
said a few sauger are also being picked
up here and there but not

Center Hill Lake
It's a jerkbait deal on Center Hill.
Guide Jim Duckworth said largemouth
and smallmouth bass alike are being
caught on a Matzou Zander Shad. The
water temperature is 56 to 60 degrees.
Spots are hitting on 3-inch Charlie Brewer
grubs. Largemouths and spots can also
be caught off windy banks on

Duckworth said crappie are hanging in
15 to 20 feet, but the action is still good.
Anglers are catching a number of them
on flies tipped with minnows, jigs tipped
with minnows, grubs, and plain minnows.
Some walleye action is also reported
near Rock Island.

Dale Hollow Lake
Smallmouth bass guide Ralph Sandfer
said the water temperature is 54 degrees
now on Dale Hollow, but the bite is tough
with smallies hung up in transition.
Ralph hasn't given up on the Float-N-Fly
yet. It's about all that's producing. He
said you can count on one good
smallmouth over 4 pounds in the
morning and then turn to other baits later
in the day.

Ralph said spinnerbaits, crankbaits,
and jerkbaits are not producing so far
with the only other bites coming on live

West Tennessee
Kentucky Lake
Kentucky Lake has busted over the
63-degree mark and crappie are on fire.
They're as good as they've been all year,
and guide Garry Mason reports anglers
catching limits in 4 to 8 feet of water off
every kind of structure available. They're
holding on stakebeds and brushpiles
with anglers catching slabs. He was just
finished cleaning 57 when I talked to

Guide Glen Stubblefield said the
largemouths are also about prime for the
taking. He just boated a dozen or so on
Texas-rigged pumpkinseed Centipedes
and No. 7 Shad Raps. The largemouths
are up on flats now, and Stubblefield said
it's just getting started.

Reelfoot Lake
They're catching fish at Reelfoot Lake
as well, they're not largemouths but
they're decent crappie. Clayton Bentley at
Bo's Landing said the water temperature
has warmed up to 58 degrees. He also
said the male crappie have moved into
the banks while the females are still back
a little. He said it's just about to happen.
The serious crappie action is around two
weeks away.

There's little word on bass, but bream
are already starting to hit crickets and
mealworms. Catfish have also started up
early on stinkbaits and nightcrawlers.
The yo-yo bite is already turned on.

Lake Barkley
Tournament angler Marc Thomas said
he first tried a deeper bite with a
Carolina-rig with no success recently on
Barkley. He then went shallow and
found the largemouths with a water
temperature of 61 degrees.

He said you can catch quality 2 to
3-pound largemouths in as little as two
feet of water on spinnerbaits,
Rat-L-Traps, and green pumpkin tubes.
You'll want to hit main pockets that are

Lake Cumberland
Ned Sloan at Grider Hill Dock said he
hasn't seen as many fish as they were
seeing before the recent nasty weather.
The heavy rains brought the lake up. The
water temperature is in the upper 50s.
There have been no solid reports on
bass and crappie since the weather

The striper fishing is your best bet.
Guides are catching a few, but Sloan said
they have to work for them. The biggest
are running around 15 pounds and will
take livebait. Anglers are also catching a
few stripers on Rapalas and jigs.

Guntersville Lake
Guntersville Lake is primed and ready
with water temperatures 59 to 64

Chris McCollum at Waterfront Grocery
said largemouths are in the backs of
pockets hanging on flats. Anglers are
catching active bass with Yum Dingers
and Senkos on the flats.

The day I talked to him three
largemouths of more than 8 pounds had
been caught. Plastics are starting to take
control of the action with Yum
Zellamanders and Texas-rigged lizards
working in one to four-foot depths.

Wheeler Lake
Jim Fields at Towson's Bait & Tackle
said anglers are catching the heck out of
crappie on Wheeler. The water's up but
that's not slowing things down now.

Limits are coming on plain minnows for
the most part. Catfish are spawning in
shallow water, and fishermen are
wearing them out on nightcrawlers and
rooster livers.

Several largemouths are being taken
with spinnerbaits. Bluegill are showing
up on crickets, and stripers are schooling
and hitting jigs and live shad. Water
temperature is nearing 60 degrees.

Wilson Lake
Spring is off on the right foot at Wilson
Lake. Tournament angler Sonny Carter
said it took nearly 15 pounds to win the
last tournament, which included a
5.5-pound lunker.

The top three places had more than14
pounds each, the next three had more
than 13 pound each, and the next three
teams had more than
12-pounds each.

The water temperature is 62 degrees
and climbing. One boat had more than
30 bass just before dark and some after.
It's early, but Sonny said Texas-rigged
lizards and plastic worms have been the
best baits.

Pickwick Lake
Guide Lou Williams said things have
turned around on Pickwick Lake, but it's
been for largemouths. The last month or
so has been incredible and is just
showing signs of slowing down as they
head to beds, but there's still time.
Lou's best day so far had 67 bass in
the boat. And 31 of them were 3
pounders or better in size. The biggest
he's seen was a 7-pounder.

The water temperature is 58 to 61
degrees, and he's finding bass in 5 to 7
feet of water. All have been on crankbaits,
and come out of grass.

Lou said the new Bandit Flat Max
crankbait worked in a slow presentation
has been deadly.

Weiss Lake
How about the best crappie fishing in
15 years at Weiss Lake? That's what
Jerry Baker at WEIS Radio is reporting.
They've moved shallow in less than three
feet of water hitting on a variety of jigs.
The water temperature is 63 degrees.

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