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Moon Phases

Tennessee Valley

P.O. Box 157
Greeneville, TN 37744
(423) 638-4177
FAX (423) 638-3328
News Article
Late fall fishing on fire at some lakes, slow at others
By: Larry Self

It's on. The late fall fishing is on fire at some lakes and slowing down on others.

Some waters are producing some big bass catches while other options are up and down with the weather leading into the early winter, but that's to be expected.

Anglers will be happy to find some catfishing and bream fishing remaining in full swing on certain lakes.

Crappie action has also picked up with cooler water temperatures that have fallen below the 60-degree mark on many reservoirs.

Look for smallmouth action to pick up during the daylight hours as the nighttime bite drops off. Sauger are making their first real productive drives already.

Largemouths are being caught on anything from topwater to crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and other lure choices. The only way you'll know is to go. There are a lot of hunting seasons open and others opening up but be sure to work in a late season fishing trip in your travels across the Tennessee Valley this month.

East Tennessee
Watts Bar Lake

Christopher Henderson at One Limit Bait Shop said the largemouths at Watts Bar are blowing Super Spook Jr's out of the water. The water temperature is in the low 60s. The spinnerbait bite is even better with a little wind.

A few crappie can be found way up the river just below the dam. They're hitting really well on grubs in blue and green colors.

Anglers are also catching crappie trolling 200-Series Bandits in 10- to 14-foot depths. Current will make all the difference in the world.

Douglas Lake
Tournament angler Matt Myers said their recent Fall Classic was split into two days of fishing at Cherokee Lake and Douglas Lake.

Up river on Douglas, the topwater bite is key with buzzbaits. The water temperature is 58 degrees on the upper end and in the low 60s on the main lake.

Myers said there's also a dominant Rat-L-Trap bite in the backs of creeks and pockets anywhere you find shad. Spinnerbaits and crankbaits are also good options. It took 16 pounds of largemouth bass to win the last tournament.

Cherokee Lake
Matt Myers said the tournament fishing during the fall Classic at Cherokee was a little on the slow side. In the event, Myers boated bass on spinnerbaits and buzzbaits.

The cold and wet weather made recent fishing tough, but a good smallmouth fell victim to a Rapala DT-6.

The water temperature on Cherokee Lake is in the mid-60s. Rat-L-Traps are producing bass as well. In the Classic, 4 of 10 boats had fish while the 6 others zeroed.

There's also a deep Carolina-rig bite still happening from German Creek down the lake. The lake level is falling, and Myers expects the topwater bite to explode at any time. Myers said in a few days, spinnerbaits and Rat-L-Traps should be all you need on flats and in creeks around shad.

Melton Hill Lake
The lower end of Melton Hill Lake is still the place for anglers to be fishing.

Chris Henderson at One Limit Bait Shop said the water temperature is in the low 60s on the lower end while it's well into the 50s on the upper end where the cold water from Norris is still cooling temperatures.

Henderson said spoons, Rooster-tails, and small Pop-Rs are producing a variety of game fish.

You can catch stripers, skipjack, and largemouth bass as well on the lower end.

Fort Loudoun Lake
Christopher Henderson at One Limit Bait Shop said anglers at Fort Loudoun are catching smallies on top with a Super Spook Jr and an 85 Sammy around rocky points going into creeks and pockets. The water temperature is in the upper 50s.

Later in the afternoon, there's a good Rat-L-Trap bite for largemouths in the backs of creeks and the backs of pockets. Chris said it's a typical fall pattern just not real consistent right now.

Norris Lake
The water temperature is in the mid-60s on Norris Lake. Kelly McClain at Hickory Star Marina said anglers are catching some smallies and spots along mud banks in the Island F area.

Crappie are also bunching up and being caught around Dollar Island and the Loyston Sea area. Catch them in about 10 feet of water with tuffies on jigs.

Also, stripers are being caught in the mouth of Crooked Creek. More numbers than size are being found right now. Your best bet is running livebait on planer boards.

Watauga Lake
Watauga Lake isn't on fire, but some bass are being caught consistently with a water temperature of 59 degrees.

Tournament angler Rick Chappell said largemouths are being caught on the upper end in the rivers. Largemouths are best on spinnerbaits.

The smallmouth action is definitely best on the lower end around banks featuring busted up rocks and windblown points. Chappell said the smallies are responding best to crankbaits.

Boone Lake
Rex Pendergrass at Watson's Marine said believe it or not, it's still a night deal mostly at Boone Lake. That's right, some big stringers of bass are still being caught after dark.

Rex was on his way when I talked to him. The steep, sloping banks at the mouths of creeks in the mid-lake section are good after the sun goes down on a nighttime spinnerbait. A 7-pounder was recently caught at night.

There are a few daytime fish being caught on DT-6's, spinnerbaits, and Long A's. One angler recently dominated a daytime tournament with 22 pounds of bass. Second place had 6 pounds. The water temperature is in the upper 50s.

Chickamauga Lake
The water temperature is around 62 degrees on Chickamauga Lake. Vickie Fryar at Hamilton's Sport Shop said anglers are catching largemouth bass mostly on spinnerbaits. The smallmouth bite is still best on livebait.

On the other hand, a lot of crappie are being caught in shallow water on minnows. There's a little action for rockfish on bucktail jigs and surface baits. The striper fishing is just beginning to pick up.

South Holston Lake
Tournament angler Rex Pendergrass said the daytime bite is hit or miss at South Holston Lake. The water temperature has cooled into the upper 50s, and there's a little bit of a spinnerbait bite during the daytime.

Night fishing is still on as well. Pendergrass said a couple of his buddies recently hit Holston at night and killed them with a spinnerbait.

Best news for area anglers is the long awaited Long-A bite has started. Rex said it's in full swing with some big smallies being caught on the late winter surface plug.

Middle Tennessee
Tims Ford Lake

Trina Neal at Tims Ford Marina said the fishing is a little tough right now with falling lake levels. The lower water has driven many of the fish deeper at Tims Ford Lake.

The action for smallmouth bass has been the best thing going lately.

There's not a lot happening for rockfish anglers either. A few have been caught on red and white bucktail jigs. A few crappie are being found around laydowns with plain minnows mostly.

Center Hill Lake
Guide Jim Duckworth said the water temperature is 60 degrees on Center Hill Lake. Jigging spoons like the Rattle Snakie in the 1/2-ounce size are working for bass in 30 to 35 feet of water in the backs of pockets. Gold and silver spoons are working equally.

Crappie are slow for the most part, but a few can be caught deep in 25 feet of water on minnows. A few crappie can even be found with spoons.

The cat bite is still strong at night on jugs rigged with nightcrawlers, and trotlines are starting to work after dark as well.

Old Hickory Lake
The bass fishing at Old Hickory is still rated as a little on the slow side. The water temperature is in the low 60s here as well.

Brandon Miller at Poindexter's Bait & Tackle said anglers are catching a few crappie on minnows around brushpiles.

Sauger are making their first real appearance and are hitting big jigs tipped with minnows at the mouths of creeks. The good news is that several sauger keepers are coming in now.

Percy Priest Lake
There's a real good bass bite on Percy Priest Lake with Bandit crankbaits. Guide Jim Duckworth said a few bass are also in the jumps. The water temperature is 60 degrees.

The crappie are biting along the bank around stakebeds in five feet of water. Catch them on minnows or marabou jigs.

Stripers and hybrids are running from the Hopson Pike Bridge downstream. Catch both species on down-lines at 15 feet rigged with shiners. The after dark jug bite for catfish is still happening as well.

Cordell Hull Lake
The water temperature at Cordell Hull is in the low 60s. Barbara Taylor at Granville Marina said the stripers are biting on livebait -- at least a few but not the big ones yet. Crankbaits are working for largemouths, and a big bass more than 7 pounds fell for one recently.

The lake is down 8 to 10-feet and clear. That also has the first serious sauger action happening on jigs tipped with minnows. They're running small so far, but it's a start.

Dale Hollow Lake
The water temperature at Dale Hollow is 61 degrees, and it's not quite Float-N-Fly time but it won't be long.

Thomas Weaver at Horse Creek Dock said smallies are scattered and a little on the slow side. You can find them here and there on Silver Buddies, live shiners, and a few are in the jumps on the main lake.

Jigs and shiners are best off drops in 25 to 30 feet of water.

The best news is that a lot of crappie are being caught. Anglers are catching plenty in 15 to 25 feet of water over grassbeds with tuffie minnows.

West Tennessee
Kentucky Lake

Guide Steve McCadams said water temps have cooled down from 53 to 57 degrees on Kentucky Lake. Water color remains clear throughout most of the reservoir.

Crappie action was holding up as fish remained active in the 9- to 13-foot depth range. A few fish were scattered in the 7- to 9-foot range but somewhat deeper stakebeds and brushpiles seemed more productive. A combination of jig colors ranging from red and chartreuse to blue and pearl, yellow and chartreuse were producing. Tipping leadheads with minnows has also worked well with some fish preferring the smaller bait presentation of 1/16-ounce heads with no skirt.

Some days crappie have been finicky early in the morning only to turn on by late afternoon. Tipping jigs with Berkley crappie nibbles has also paid dividends.

Bass were hitting shad colored crankbaits fished slowly along roadbeds and rocky points. Some fish were holding in the grass, too, and anglers slow rolling big spinnerbaits around deeper patches of vegetation were landing good fish.

A few smallmouth were holding on main lake humps where rock piles or other structure was located near deeper water. Carolina rigged worms and big crankbaits were producing on humps and main lake ledges.

Jerkbaits such as suspending Rogues and Slugo-style plastic baits were accounting for some finicky fish. Windy points and gravel banks were holding fish, but a lot of the bass appeared to be holding off the shallow shoreline and out in somewhat deeper water.

Reelfoot Lake
There aren't a lot of reports of good bass fishing or catfishing right now at Reelfoot Lake, but Clayton Bentley at Bo's Landing said the crappie fishing is a different story. The water temperature has cooled off to 52 degrees and is really helping matters.

Bentley said crappie are being caught in good numbers in the ditches. Find them in three feet of water jigs tipped with minnows. On the main lake, crappie are being caught in 10 to 12 feet of water on plain minnows. Bream are also still hitting on jigs tipped with waxworms. Catch bluegill right now in the ditches and along stumps in open water.

Wheeler Lake

Jim Fields at Townson's Bait & tackle said the FLW was going on when I talked with him, and anglers were buying the crap out of crankbaits and spinnerbaits.

It took 19 pounds of bass to take the Day 1 lead. Jim said not a lot of big bass were being caught, but several solid ones were being brought in to the scales.

The other big news is the consistent catfish bite below the dam with nightcrawlers and rooster livers. Jurome Townson said legendary catfisherman Larry “Dirt” Hughes has been boating cats as big as 80 to 90 pounds and as many as 250 to 300 per weekend.

Guntersville Lake
Tournament angler Chris Henderson just got back from an event and four days of fishing on Guntersville. The lake levels came up and messed up a lot of the grass and those patterns.

There was a good Ribbit and Horny Toad bite going on, and it took more than 38 pounds to win the 2-day tournament. The boat in 21st place had more than 22 pounds. The lunker was 9.46-pounds. The water temperature is 58 to 61 degrees.

Rat-L-Traps and Pop-Rs have also been producers around the scattered grass. Chris said a lot of 4-pounders were caught during the tournament. The crankbait bite is also very consistent on the lower end of the lake.

Wilson Lake
Things are a little tough on Wilson Lake. Bubba Haddock at Gray's Tackle said the water temperature is in the low 60s. The bite on the lower end is extremely tough.

The best action of late has been with yellow-tail shad fished below the dam. Make sure they're running current for any success. The biggest smallie lately was just more than 6-pounds in size.

It's a simple rig with a 1/0 bait hook and a split shot. Catfish are also being caught in the current on cutbait.

Weiss Lake
Jason Turner at JR's Marina said anglers are doing pretty well with a water temperature of 58 degrees. Bass fishing is good early around rip-rap. Later in the day, Rat-L-Traps are best around stump flats.

Crappie are wearing it out in 12 to 15 feet of water on main river ledges bumping the bottom with minnows. Catfish are killing any kind of cutbait. The stripers are a little slow. Cooler weather will bunch them up and trolling Rat-L-Traps in main creek channels will soon produce.

Pickwick Lake
Bubba Haddock at Gray's Tackle said the water temperature is 63 degrees at Pickwick Lake. Anglers are catching smallies.

It's a pure Fluke bite all over the
lower end of the lake. Live yellow-tails are also producing below the dam.

Bubba said you just have to hit the smallies at the right time and place to catch them.

Some anglers are just simply drifting the open water to boat them. The smallmouth bass bite is also good around laydowns in other areas. It took 19 pounds to win the last tournament.

Lake Cumberland

Joe Jones at Lake Cumberland Outdoors said the water temperature is 61 degrees, and the Float-N-Fly bite isn't far off. Smallmouths are being caught on watermelon colored jigs right now.

In the morning, you can catch them on topwater baits right up against the bank.

Anglers are catching a few rockfish as they move up creeks. Some are being caught at night on Slivers as well. Crappie are also biting real good on minnows and jigs. Two anglers recently boated 29 keepers on the main lake, and the biggest were 16 inches in length.

Lake Barkley
The water temperature is a cool 57 degrees at Lake Barkley. Guide Dave Stewart said they're having good and bad days right now. The fishing is sporadic with the latest cold fronts pushing through.

One day you'll knock them in the head, and the next it's your turn to get knocked.

When they're biting, largemouths are shallow and hitting spinnerbaits, topwater plugs, and crankbaits consistently. There are some good bass mixed in with the numbers when they feed.

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