Blessed with an abundance of water in Middle Tennessee, sometimes it could be confusing as to which way to point your fishing pole.
There are waters that serve many interests. Let's take a look at the Top 10 TENnessee locations to "wet a line" in reverse order.
No. 10 – Center Hill Lake is characterized as a highland reservoir, deep and clear. Center Hill has multiple species of fish to suit almost any angler. All three types of bass (largemouth, smallmouth and spotted), crappie, walleye, catfish and bream swim the waters of this popular lake.
Artificial baits like soft plastic lures, spinners and crank baits all catch their share of fish.
Multiple launch ramps afford easy access for all boaters. Beautiful shorelines and lots of wildlife greet prospective fishermen throughout the year.
No. 9 – Bedford County Lake is a Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency lake. The lake is managed by the state and has amenities such as boat rental and some limited concessions.
Bedford boasts some very large bass taken during its history, a few more than 10 pounds. Not a large body of water, this state lake, as well as other government-operated waters, is geared to family outings.
Again, there is the appeal of multi-species of fish to tempt fishermen of all ages and styles. Live bait in the form of minnows and worms are good bets for all-day action on this body of water.
No. 8 – Dale Hollow Lake, located on the northern border of Tennessee and the southern Kentucky border, boasts being the existing home of the world record smallmouth bass — more than 11 pounds — caught in the summer of 1955.
The brown bass is a big draw for die-hard smallmouth bass fans. Many species are at home in Dale Hollow. Trout as well as giant muskie are found in the deeper haunts of the lake.
While casting lures dominates the approach of most anglers, trolling plugs along deep bottom underwater structure contours produces bass, trout and the elusive muskie.
No. 7 – Long Hunter State Park is a fish friendly area within easy drive of most Middle Tennessee counties. Home to one of the best fishing piers, Long Hunter is a great spot to take the kids and catch whatever is biting that day right off the dock, which extends well into the lakes waters.
Many days the lure of a live worm draws lots of attention from the fish of all sizes and species that call the lake home. Even with all the high-tech equipment employed today, there is still something special about watching a float dance across the surface of the water and disappear.
Long Hunter is a great place to introduce anyone to the relaxing atmosphere of angling.
No. 6 – The Duck River winds through the south-central part of the Volunteer State. The flowing water of the Duck River lends itself to a canoe trip or a float in a flat bottom jon boat while casting your cares away.
Native fish are many. Bass and panfish along with some rainbow trout all present prospective targets for the visitors to this spot.
Small artificial lures like in line spinners, small soft plastic grubs and some topwater baits all entice fish. Spinning gear or even the fly rod is highly recommended for a lazy but fun float down the Duck.
No. 5 - Nices Mill is located in Rutherford County and is the site of frequent state stockings of hatchery-raised rainbow trout. Other fish inhabit the waters of this section of the Stones River.
Limited parking is available, but the lack of conveniences is more than made up for by the sight and sounds of the water flowing through the area. A 5 /12 foot light action-spinning rod with a Rooster Tail spinner or a night crawler attached is a good bet for some action.
Caution should be exercised when wading or boating the moving waters. Another word of warning any creek, stream or river can become dangerous after a rain.
No. 4 – Cumberland River, seldom viewed as a fishing hot spot, offers lots of opportunity for fishing. Healthy populations of bass, crappie, sauger and potential world-record class catfish are found in the long, flowing waters of the historic Cumberland River.
Cumberland catfish in excess of 30 pounds are not uncommon. Scattered access and launch ramps are worth the search for a potential bonanza of bass or mixed bag of fish. There is a variety of landscape and shoreline — everything from a view of downtown Nashville to remote looking spots that invite a visitor to stop and drop anchor.
No. 3 – With Greenway Access, the Stones River steeped in Civil War and commercial history is another spot that provides fantastic fishing. Numerous varieties of fish swim the free-flowing waters that wind through Rutherford and surrounding counties. Several locations are available to access the river; a county map is a good place to scout prospective "fishin' holes."
Once located the next task is to determine the species and technique you want to use to haul in the fish. An abundance of targets are readily available. Most of the narrow stretches of the Stones River have a mix of eager fish.
Bass of all sizes and varieties can be caught year round — crappie, catfish, bluegill and red eye (the state record came for the Stones River) are the prize for the persistent angler.
Bank fishing, wading shallow areas or a small water craft are all logical choices to navigating the fish-filled waters of one of the great Rutherford County resources, the Stones River.
No. 2 – A longer ride but well worth the trip is Reelfoot Lake nestled in extreme northwest corner of Tennessee. Reelfoot was created when the Mississippi River flowed backward during a giant earthquake some 200 years ago.
Postcard pretty and with the highest concentration of fish (determined by a TWRA study), Reelfoot is a fisherman's paradise. Surrounded by cypress trees and loaded with lily pads and other aquatic vegetation, huge populations of bass, crappie, catfish and bragging-size bream draw interest and anglers from all over.
With a maximum depth of 16 feet, every place is fishy in Reelfoot. For the nature lover abundant wildlife sightings are everyday occurrences, and January through March brings great numbers of bald eagles to the area.
No. 1 – J. Percy Priest Lake, situated conveniently in the heart of Tennessee, has something for everyone. Regardless of the boating and fishing pressure, Priest continues to churn out great numbers and size of fish.
Almost everything that swims Tennessee waters is found in the confines of the lake. Home to several marinas and host to hundreds of fishing tournaments, Percy Priest Lake is good for the fishermen as well as the local economy. Formed and filled by the Stones River, the lake is a popular place for all kinds of recreation.
Whether your target is a mess of bluegill for the skillet or the dream of landing a trophy bass, Percy Priest is a great place to try your luck. Many a fisherman has learned lessons on this popular impoundment.
Well, there they are. Maybe your favorite spot made the list, but realistically the best place to fish is wherever you happen to find yourself that day. Exercising safety and being a good steward of the resources, maintaining the cleanliness of the waters and surrounding areas are critical. Keeping what fish you want to consume and releasing the rest also passes on to future generations and generation unborn the chance to enjoy the fun of fishing.