Tennessee has several lakes that frequently rank in the top ten for best bass fishing in the country. Chickamauga ranked 6th just last year, so it’s a state that both caters to and enjoys an excellent bass fishing atmosphere.
Anglers know where all the best lakes are in the state of Tennessee, and there are several of them, whether you prefer smallmouth bass or largemouth bass. Overall, Tennessee hovers between 5th and 15th in the nation when it comes to bass fishing.
While Florida and Alabama have been getting a lot of bass love in recent years, bass fishing Tennessee lakes and reservoirs is almost a guaranteed success story. Here are some of the best lakes to seek out if you get the opportunity to bass fish in Tennessee.
11 Best Lakes for Bass Fishing in Tennessee
It’s hard to narrow down the best lakes for bass fishing in Tennessee because there are so many of them. Tennessee lakes are rife with Redeye, Spotted, Smallmouth, and Largemouth bass. It’s just a matter of getting yourself on the fish.
1. Chickamauga Lake
This one hardly needs an introduction as it is consistently ranked in the top ten of bass fishing lakes in the country. The state record largemouth bass came from Chickamauga, and it’s a consistently high-production lake every year.
Chickamauga Lake covers 36,000 acres with ample fishing hotspots, whether it’s from the shoreline or out in a boat. According to the local anglers there, topwater lures are a fantastic option in the early morning hours.
Pickwick is a unique lake because it crosses three state lines—Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. However, it’s known for being a Tennessee lake. Despite that fact, it attracts a ton of anglers from all three states.
Pickwick is a big-time tournament lake in Tennessee, which makes sense because the lake is full to the brim with bass. It’s one of the most popular lakes in the entire southeast region. Pickwick covers 43,100 acres of territory with 490 miles of shoreline.
3. Douglas Lake
Some might argue that Douglas Lake belongs in Pickwick’s place, and there are some good points to make in favor of that. Since we have to label them with numbers, just assume they’re ranked in the same spot. It is a smaller lake compared to the first two, at 28,000 acres.
But the shoreline is longer than Pickwick at 513 miles. Tennessee hosts a lot of tournaments at Douglas Lake as well, also thanks to its popularity and the fact that it’s overrun with plenty of bass.
4. Kentucky Lake
It’s strange to have a Kentucky Lake in Tennessee, especially since the lake is fed by the Tennessee River. However, it’s a lake that’s well-known for its bass fishing, and it’s an enormous lake.
With 160,000 acres to fish and 2,000 miles of shoreline, there is room for every angler in the state to hit it all at once. At some point, the invasive Asian Carp managed to infiltrate the lake but excellent controls and a thriving bass population have continued to maintain Kentucky Lake’s status as one of the best bass fishing lakes in the state.
5. Dale Hollow
Dale Hollow Lake has a unique aesthetic, making it one of the prettiest lakes to fish in Tennessee, especially throughout the fall months, when the leaves begin to change. Dale Hollow holds the current world record for the biggest smallmouth bass ever caught at 11lbs and 15oz.
One feature that anglers take advantage of is the coves. Dale Hollow has a lot of them and they are congregation points for smallmouth bass. Plastic worms and jerkbaits are the most popular rigs on Dale Hollow Lake.
6. Cherokee Lake
This 29,000-acre lake sports 400 miles of shoreline and is a popular bass fishing destination in Tennessee. Striped bass are especially popular in the summer months, along with crappie if you’re interested in the latter. During the spring, anglers have a ton of success in shallow waters, thanks to the bass spawning season.
Jerkbaits and baitfish rigs are very popular here, and Cherokee Lake is known for having one of the highest populations of smallmouth and largemouth bass in the region.
7. Gibson County Lake
We had to put this tiny little lake on the list because it’s the little engine that could. Gibson County lake only covers about 500 acres of territory, but it’s worth every penny in terms of bass fishing.
Thanks to its small size, anglers will experience success no matter where on the lake they go, especially if they bring topwater baits, crankbaits, and soft plastics along for the ride. Gibson County Lake is unique because you get a taste of Florida when you catch bass there, thanks to an original stock of all-Florida bass.
8. Center Hill Reservoir
Center Hill Reservoir is a beautiful part of a dam system at the edge of the lake. It’s a very popular spot for spotted bass, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass. Spinning baits and crankbaits get the most love on this 18,200-acre bass paradise.
If you have kids or are planning to bring the family along for the ride, you can pitch a tent and enjoy a little primitive camping while fishing the shoreline early in the mornings. Or, you can roll in with your Class A motorhome. Whatever floats your boat.
9. Marrowbone Lake
The smallest lake on our list is the little 60-acre drop of water also known as Marrowbone Lake. For such a small lake, it’s packed to the brim with largemouth bass, making it one of the more popular bass fishing spots close to Nashville.
What makes Marrowbone unique is its underwater springs. Largemouth bass love to congregate at the mouth of these springs. If you want a guaranteed day, you’ll have to beat the other anglers to these springs and secure yourself a spot on the lake.
10. Holston River
Okay, it’s not technically a lake, but it’s such a great spot for bass fishing we had to throw it on the list. Live minnows seem to be the key to most success stories on Holston River, where plenty of smallmouth and largemouth bass are known to hang out.
The only drawback to Holston River is the routine dam release. The swell of rushing water affects the bass negatively while it lasts. However, you can check with local officials to learn the official times and dates for dam releases.
11. South Holston Lake
Yes, South Holston Lake is a part of the Holston River, which helps to justify our lone river listing. At 7,600 acres, South Holston Lake is high on the list of popular bass fishing spots in Tennessee.
It has some of the clearest water of all the lakes and rivers on the list. It’s also one of the premier destinations for those who prefer fishing on the shoreline. South Holston is known for its black bass and smallmouth in the spring.
Tennessee has several limitations on how many bass you can catch from each time and their length.
- Black Bass: Limit 5, Minimum Length – None
- Striped Bass: Limit 2, Minimum Length – 15″
- Redeye Bass: Limit 20, Minimum Length – None
- White Bass: Limit 15, Minimum Length – None
- Yellow bass: No Limit, No minimum Length
- Largemouth Bass: Limit 5, No Minimum length
- Smallmouth Bass: Limit 5, No minimum length
- Spotted Bass: Limit 5, No minimum length
Tennessee is an outstanding state for bass fishing and is frequently ranked somewhere in the top ten for states that lead the way in bass fishing. The unspoken, additional benefit of fishing in Tennessee is the beauty of it all.
Tennessee is a gorgeous state, and just about anywhere you choose to bass fish is going to be a sight to remember. Except for striped bass, Tennessee places no limits on length.
For smallmouth, largemouth, spotted, and black bass, Tennessee is pretty liberal with the number of bass you can catch each day.
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