Tennessee Fishing Report

East Tennessee Fishing Report


The water level is slowly falling. Surface temperature are 75 degrees and the water color is clear.

Bass fishing is good in early morning and late evening. Most bass are caught around 10 feet deep with crank baits or white spinner baits. Crappie are active and can be found near creeks, humps, brush piles, and in the river channel. Trolling with small crank baits and flies is accounting for most of the crappie being caught. Fish 15 to 25 feet deep. Catfish can be found around bluffs, in creek beds, and along rocky banks.

Bluegill are on brush, sandy banks, and along bluffs. Crickets are the best offering.

Anglers are still catching a few walleye and sauger on the upper locations of the lake using minnows and jigs. White bass are active in the areas of Point 17 on up to the forks of the river. Fish with jigging spoons and jigs.


The lake elevation is 1,007.5-feet, down 2-feet since last week’s report. It is predicted to fall 1.1-feet over the next two days. Water surface temperatures have cooled a bit, with afternoon temperature readings at 80 degrees. The lake is clear. The latest water temperature and dissolved oxygen (D.O.) profiles and graphs are available on the department’s web site, www.tnfish.org . On the lower end of the lake, the best fishing for walleye and striped bass has been between 33 and 40-feet deep. Check the D.O. readings for your area of the lake; fishing too deep at this time of year will not help your catch, as you may be fishing in water devoid of D.O. In addition to the water profiles, the site has other useful information on TWRA’s Norris fishery, fish identification photos and fishing reports on other lakes in east Tennessee.

WALLEYE are hitting fairly well at night; slower in the daytime. Still, for those fishing deep enough, some nice walleye are being caught during mid-day. LARGEMOUTH BASS are hitting topwater buzzbaits and jerk baits on calm mornings and evenings. SMALLMOUTH have hit plugs trolled at 30-feet on the lower end, as well as pig’n jigs and crankbaits along main channel rocky banks. Flyrodders with popping bugs are having a great time catching some nice BLUEGILL. STRIPED BASS are in the main channels on the lower end, and in some of the larger creek embayments. CATFISH went deep along rocky banks and on the mid-lake humps. CRAPPIE are slow, except for some caught beneath the lights at night. WALLEYE
Moderate. Fish at 40-feet on the humps where humps drop to deeper water on the lower end. As you go up the lake, walleye can be found a bit shallower than that. As the lake level drops, so will the walleye increase in depth as the zone of higher dissolved oxygen expands to greater depths. If you’re fishing farther up the lake, fish at a shallower depth to avoid trolling or jigging in water which has low dissolved oxygen. Check the water quality readings on the TWRA Reservoir Data Collection web site: www.tnfish.org. The most productive lures for the week were: Mann O’ Lures and Johnson spoons jigged on the bottom at 40-feet near deeper water drop-offs, and along rocky banks, both at night and during the daytime. Trolling spinner/worm rigs worked well if you could keep it on the bottom at 40-feet. Troll Jet Lure/nightcrawler rigs, #4 chrome Hildebrandt spinner/nightcrawler rigs, Thundersticks, RedFin 911 or Model A’s. SMALLMOUTH BASS. Moderate during daylight hours, much better at night. 20 to 30 feet. While the lake is being drawn down, smallmouth are in mid-channel, in schools of baitfish as deep as 30 feet. Trolling with RedFins, Model A’s and other deep running plugs has caught smallmouth in excess of 20-inches in length. Fish mid-channel dropoffs and where drawdown currents break around rocky points with small lures: pig’n jigs, deep-running crankbaits or slow-rolled spinners. Especially when the lake is being drawn, target rock outcroppings which project into the main channel and along deep creek channels. Small plastic Slider worms, jerkbaits and Bandit crankbaits are catching some smallmouth on broken rock banks, near wood structure. Newcomers to Norris smallmouth fishing are advised to use low-visibility, small diameter line because of the clear water conditions. Good at night and at dusk or dawn. Surface to 25-feet. Same pattern as the last two weeks: On calm afternoons, in the coves, bass are hitting topwater from 6 p.m until dark. Small Pop’R’s, Tiny Torpedoes and other, small topwater plugs have worked. 1/4 ounce pig ‘n jigs, ripple-tailed plastic worms and 6-inch plastic lizards are taking some, with plastic rigged both on Carolina and Texas rigs, depending upon the bank fished. Crankbaits and smaller spinnerbaits along the rocks and near brush.

STRIPED BASS. Good at dusk, dawn and night.To 38-feet deep. On the lower end, shad tightlined to 38-feet, or 1/2-oz. doll flies tipped with plastic twisters or Sassy Shads. Or troll deep running plugs such as RedFins or Thundersticks in mid-channel where baitfish can be found. On clear days, striped bass have been caught, tightlined, as deep as 40-feet on the lower end. Better locations have been: the channel near Boy Scout Hollow; the main channel of the Clinch and Cove Creek within 3-miles of Norris Dam. Topwater action with planer boards was slower than tightlining (fishing straight down below the boat with weighted lure or bait). CRAPPIE. Slow. 5 to 10 feet, in the brush along creek embayments. Better at night, under lights and near brush, with small minnows as bait. Shallower in early morning and at dusk. When the sun hits the brush, the action slows considerably; fish early or at night. Small tube jigs, popeye flies, or minnows in the brush. BLUEGILL. Good. Surface or 30-feet. Early morning flyrodders fishing with popping bugs caught a lot of nice bluegills in the early morning hours. Cast or tightline to the bottom with crickets or wax worms, concentrating on broken rock banks and deep shelves. Cast wax worms or crickets to the bottom with no float, and slowly drag across these areas until large bluegill are located. Also, anglers are catching some on popping bugs. CATFISH. Good. 10 to 20-feet. Walleye anglers are catching most of the catfish on trolled spinner or Jet Lures tipped with nightcrawlers. Flathead catfish are being caught on rocky banks adjacent to deep water during the day. With bluegill as bait, limbline anglers have done well at night. Channel catfish are hitting nightcrawler/spinner rigs off the humps and along the banks at 20-30 feet, caught very often by those trolling for walleye.


Water surface temperatures have been down into the mid 70’s in the mornings this week. The lake has a brownish-green color to it this week. The lake level at the dam as of 8:00 p.m. Wednesday night was 1,377.6 7 feet above sea level.

Bass fishing continues to improve. The bass are really starting to get more active with the cooler temperatures, especially the smallmouth. The largemouth bass are holding good around fallen trees or any other woody cover while the smallmouth can be found feeding shallow on shallow flats or off secondary points. The night fishing has slowed down some but the morning fishing up into midday has drastically improved. Fishing a worm, tube, or crankbait is what is taking the majority of the bass, with the largemouth really liking the worm around woody cover, and the smallmouth seem to be chasing the crankbait a little better. The crankbait action has really picked up over the weekend and should continue to get better as the water cools down some. The Gitzit tube continues to catch both largemouth and smallmouth on the Watauga side, with the Bandit or Shad Rap crankbait working well on the Holston end.

The hybrid and striper action continues to be good. The hybrids have really been hitting well the last few weeks. Several boats have been catching huge numbers of hybrids on chicken livers the last couple of weeks from the Holston side. Trolling spoons or live shad in about 20-25 feet of water has also been working well, especially for the bigger stripers. The Holston side seems to be where to find the bigger stripers. The majority of the hybrids caught this week have been from Point 2 to Point 4 on the Holston arm of the lake.

Crappie fishing is fair. The crappie seem to be moving up in the brush and treetops better now. Fishing fallen treetops or submerged brush in any creek arm or the backs of coves shoul;d be producing a few crappie right now. The ones caught out of the treetops have been with a small 1/16 or 1/32 oz. white fly tipped with a minnow fished in about 8-10 feet of water. Good places to start would be Boones Creek, Whites Branch, Beaverdam Creek, or around the Point 6-7 areas where there is any fallen or submerged trees.


Water surface temperatures have been in the mid 70’s at sunrise in the mornings this week. The lake is clear toward the dam with some stained water color toward the rivers. The lake level at the dam as of 8:00 p.m. Wednesday night was 1,951.31 feet above sea level.

Bass fishing is getting better. Look for the cooler temperatures to really help it improve in the next couple of weeks. The best time to catch bass is still first thing in the mornings or later in the evenings before dark. Several bass seem to be in the fallen treetops and woody cover early in the mornings. Fish spinnerbaits or worms around this woody cover first thing at daylight to catch these bass, or small crankbaits or tubes later in the day. The night fishing has really slowed down from what it has been, but a few can still be taken. At nights, use a root beer colored pig-n-jig around bluffs or drop offs in the lower end of the lake, or tubes and spinnerbaits in the Elk and Watauga Rivers. Crankbaits and spoons have been having some success during the days fished off secondary points in the upper end of the lake, especially around Cobbs Creek area and off the points in Roan Creek. Look for the crankbaits to really start to come around when the water cools down a few more degrees.

Trout fishing continues to slow down. Trolling Sutton spoons or Yo-Zuri or Taildancer plugs with green or blue backs in 75-95 feet of water have been taking the majority of the rainbows. The lakers seem to like either the blue or green backed plugs as well, or a clown color Shad Rap has also taken a few the last few weeks. The Lakes have been taken a little deeper though, in about 95-120 feet of water. The majority of trout caught the last few weeks have been from the Highway 67 Bridge down to the dam.

Crappie fishing is starting to pick up. Anglers should have the best success with small 1/16 or 1/32 oz. jig heads with white or chartreuse grubs, flies, or with just a live minnow fished in any fallen treetops or willow trees in Roan Creek or the Elk and Watauga Rivers.

Walleye fishing has fair, but is showing signs of slowing down. The majority of the Walleye taken have been during the day, with the nights slowing down quite a bit. Trolling nightcrawlers with a gold Colorado blade in Roan Creek has been the most effective method the last month, but several Walleye have been showing up in the lower end of the lake now though. Trolling the jointed Rebel plugs around Points 2 and 3 have been picking up some nice fish during the days. Most of the Walleye caught have been in 15-25 feet of water.

Allen Gregory
Bristol Herald Courier

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