Best Fishing Lakes in Tennessee

With around 500,000 acres of water surface and over 1,000 lakes, both natural and artificial, Tennessee is an excellent place for fishing, whether you are a beginner or professional angler.
Some lakes are perfect for fishing alone, with family, on boats, or by the shore throughout the year.

However, debating among which are the best ones could take forever, but some of the best fishing lakes in Tennessee include;

Kentucky Lake

This artificial lake is the largest artificial lake in the eastern United States. Located at the northwest Kentucky and Tennessee border, this lake is a part of the Tennessee River system. It is over 160,000 acres and has a shoreline of about 2,064 miles.

It has shallow and clear waters, making it a perfect fishing ground, especially if you know where to look. The lake is most famous for its high largemouth bass population, which attracts anglers from all over the country to participate in fishing competitions.

Other fish species that you can find in this lake include catfish, crappie, warmouth, yellow bass, spotted bass, largemouth bass, striped bass, panfish, yellow perch, white bass, sauger, sunfish, and chain pickerel.

Pickwick Lake

With its waters in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, this 43,100-acre lake attracts anglers from the three states and all over the United States. It has around 496 miles of shoreline and is one of the best Tennessee fishing lakes for beginners and professional anglers.

During early spring and late winter, the best fishing action happens on the lake’s main body. You can get the most fish either over the points’ tops near spawning areas or over gravel bars.
Pickwick can sometimes be a difficult lake to fish in, mainly because of the changing water levels. However, you can leave there with bags full of fish, especially if you fish in the afternoon.

While most people come to the lake because of the numerous smallmouth bass found there, you can also find other fish species like catfish, sauger, and crappie.

Dale Hollow

Locates in Pickett, Clay, and Overton counties, this 28,000 acre-manmade lake was completed in 1943. One of the main things that make it among the best fishing lakes in Tennessee is its smallmouth bass. It is still the record holder for the largest smallmouth bass in the world.

The lake has a lot of forage, and the water is full of nutrients, which makes it home to many species of fish. The best way to catch fish on this lake is by boat. There are numerous and convenient boat launch ramps around the lake, perfect for you to launch any size of boat.

There are also several spots on the 650-miles shoreline where you can do bank fishing and still catch large fish. The lake is deep during the summer and winter months and shallower during the fall and spring months.

Besides the smallmouth bass, other types of fish that you can catch include catfish, crappie, stripers, trout, walleye, sunfish, paddlefish, and muskie.

Lake Barkley

This 58,000-acre lake is located on the Tennessee-Kentucky border and is one of the most fantastic Tennessee fishing lakes, especially for bass anglers.
There are boat rentals and marinas on the lake and a lot of angler-friendly lodging choices. There are also restaurants and convenience stores nearby, where you can get a variety of bait for your fish.

The waters in the southern parts of the lake get warmer in spring than other surrounding lakes. That makes the bass in the lake surface faster. Besides bass, some other fish species you can find in the lake include white bass, catfish, sunfish, stripers, walleye, paddlefish, and sauger.

Watts Bar Lake

This 39,000-acre reservoir located in the southeast part of Tennessee is an angler’s paradise from April through December. You can fish in the lake either in your boat or on the 700-mile shoreline. However, access to fishing areas from the shore is limited.

If you want to use a boat but did not bring your own, there are many rental boats along the shoreline. There are numerous amenities around the lake to make your fishing trip a success, like boat launches, marinas, and campgrounds.

If you are fishing in fall and spring, you should target the shallow parts of the lake, focusing on lake covers like brush, boat docks, and trees because that’s where fish hide. However, during the summer and winter, you should target the deeper areas, concentrating around flats, creek channels, ledges, points, and humps.

Some of the fish species you can find in this lake include bass, stripers, crappie, muskie, catfish, sunfish, and white bass.

Douglas Lake

This 30,000-acre lake is located in northeastern Tennessee at Dandridge. It is the number one Tennessee crappie lake, and it has everything to make it a perfect fishing ground like the cover, fertile water, vegetation, structure, and forage fish.

With a 550-mile shoreline, it has a lot of room for boaters and anglers to catch a lot of fish. You can fish on this lake at any time of the year. During fall and spring, focus on shallow waters, but concentrate in the deeper areas around the submerged islands, creek channels, points, and ledges during winter and summer.

Some of the fish species you can find in this lake include walleye, stripers, muskie, bass, catfish, bluegill, rock bass, crappie, striped bass, and sunfish.

Old Hickory Lake

This 23,000-acre reservoir is located in the north-central part of Tennessee in the northeast outskirts of Nashville. It has a shoreline of about 440 miles that offers anglers a great place to drop a line.

If you want to increase your chances of catching more fish, there are rental fishing kayaks, boats and canoes around the lake.

For the greatest catch, fish on the shallow parts of the lake in fall and spring. However, during summer and winter, fish on the deeper parts of the lake concentrate around points, ledges, submerged islands, and creek channels.

There are many fish species in the lake like crappie, bass, walleye, catfish, striped bass, paddlefish, sauger, bluegill, spotted bass, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, warmouth, yellow bass, and sunfish.

Center Hill Lake

This 18,000-acre lake has perfect vacation views, which makes it one of the best Tennessee fishing lakes for you and your family to have a fishing trip over the weekend. It has a 400-mile shoreline, which gives you enough space to cast your line if you love fishing by the bank.

If you love fishing in a boat to explore more extensive parts of the water, there are several boat ramps around the lake where you can launch different-sized boats. There are also public fish cleaning stations and fishing docks to make your fishing trip a success.

The lake has many points, ledges, channels, and islands, making it one of the best fishing lakes in Tennessee. Those places make a perfect place for schools of fish to hide, and there are the places you should concentrate on.

Whether you are fishing from docks, the shore, piers, kayaks, canoes, or boats, you are guaranteed to have a great catch at the end of the day.

Some of the fish species you can catch in this lake include walleye, catfish, striped bass, sunfish, largemouth bass, spotted bass, smallmouth bass, black crappie, rainbow trout, white crappie, brown trout, bluegill, white bass, and warmouth.

If you love to catch giant fish, the lake has a population of muskie and paddlefish that you can catch.