Skip to Content

12 Places That Have The Best Bass Fishing In Tennessee

Tennessee is a state full of lakes and rivers. With so much fresh water around, there are many excellent locations to go bass fishing. Whether you are looking for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white bass, spotted bass, or another variety, you’ll be able to find it in one of Tennessee’s beautiful lakes. Here is a list of twelve places to go for the best bass fishing in Tennessee.

best bass fishing in Tennessee

The Best Bass Fishing in Tennessee – Central

1. Percy Priest Lake


Located just ten miles east of downtown Nashville, Percy Priest Lake is a manmade lake with over 14,000 acres of water to fish. The lake was created in 1967 after the Percy Priest dam was constructed.

The lake has a high population of fish and is excellent for bass fishing. You can catch a number of different types of bass including striped bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white bass, and Cherokee bass.

Percy Priest Lake is a great place to go fishing without getting too far out of the city.

2. Center Hill Lake


Center Hill Lake is centrally located between Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville. The lake is bordered by Rock Island State Park, Edgar Evins State Park, and Burgess Falls State Park. It’s a beautiful area with a number of creeks and waterfalls near the lake.

The lake was formed in 1948 after construction of a dam by the Army Corp of Engineers. The lake has around 18,220 acres of surface water with about 415 miles of shoreline.

Here you can fish for spotted bass, smallmouth bass, and largemouth bass while you enjoy the picturesque setting of the lake.

A beautiful sunset view of Dale Hollow Lake and Sunset Dock in Byrdstown, TN.

3. Dale Hollow Lake


Dale Hollow Lake is a reservoir located in the Tennessee counties of Pickett, Overton, and Clay. The lake extends North into Kentucky.

The manmade lake was finished in 1943 and has almost 28,000 acres of water. It is a beautiful place to fish for bass, especially quality size smallmouth bass.

Dale Hollow boasts the world record for the largest smallmouth bass, caught on July 5, 1955 by David Hayes. The fish weighed in at a whopping eleven pounds and fifteen ounces. Fisherman flock to the lake every year in search of the next record breaking fish.

4. Old Hickory Lake

Hendersonville, Old Hickory

Old Hickory Lake is located on the Cumberland river about 25 miles upstream from Nashville. On the north side of the lake you’ll find the town of Hendersonville, and on the south side is Old Hickory.

Spring, especially April is one of the best times for bass fishing in Old hickory lake. Largemouth bass move to shallow waters for spawning and can be easily found throughout the entire lake.

There are a number of restaurants located along the lake. Pull in to one of the nearby marinas to enjoy some lunch after spending the morning out fishing.

The Best Bass Fishing in Tennessee – East

Lifting huge largemouth bass out of lake.

5. Cherokee Lake


Cherokee Lake located just outside of Knoxville is a beautiful clear blue lake with over 28,000 surface acres of water and 400 miles of shoreline.

The lake is known for it’s excellent bass fishing, especially smallmouth bass. you can also catch a variety of other types of fish including white crappie, sunfish, sauger, and walleye

6. Chickamauga Lake


Chickamauga Lake just outside of Chattanooga on the Tennessee River has 36,240 acres of fishable water. This lake not only has some of the best bass fishing in Tennessee, it’s also one of the best bass fishing lakes in the entire United States.

The lake is home to many fishing competitions annually and fisherman regularly catch largemouth bass that are over ten pounds. You can also catch smallmouth bass and striped bass.

7. Tellico Lake


Tellico Lake has 15,560 acres of surface water for fishing. The lake stretches for thirty-three miles along the Little Tennessee river between Chattanooga and Knoxville in Vonore, Tennessee.

Here you can find largemouth bass, spotted bass, striped bass, and smallmouth bass. Largemouth bass are by far the most abundant and the easiest to find in quality size. Spotted bass rarely reach quality size in East Tennessee so you’re not likely to find a lot of those here.

Besides bass you can also catch a number of other types of fish including trout, walleye, and crappie.

8. South Holston Lake


South Holston Lake is a reservoir covering 7,580 acres in Bristol, Tennessee with part of the lake extending into Virginia. It has some of the best bass fishing in Tennessee and is one of the top places to catch Smallmouth bass in the entire Southeast.

Named after an early Tennessee settler, the lake was formed after the Holston dam was completed in 1950.

The Water level in the lake rises and falls about 25 feet between summer and winter and helps control flooding in the area.

Spring is a great time to fish when the South Fork Holston River sees the annual spring migration of white bass.

The Best Bass Fishing in Tennessee – West

Reelfoot Lake Tennessee Bass Fishing Lakes

9. Reelfoot Lake


Reelfoot Lake is the largest natural lake in the state of Tennessee. It was formed in 1811 and 1812 by a series of large earthquakes along the New Madrid Fault line. The earthquakes were so strong it actually caused the Mississippi river to temporarily run backward.

The lake has a unique ecosystem. It’s shallow and swamp like in many areas making it a great spot to catch a large variety of fish including largemouth bass, carp, bluegill, and crappie.

The picturesque location is also a popular spot for bird watchers. There are many species of birds that live in and around the lake. It’s possible to see magnificent birds such as Golden Eagles and American Bald Eagles.

10. Kentucky Lake


Kentucky Lake is one of the largest manmade lakes on the Tennessee river and the seventh largest manmade lake in the entire United States. Portions of the lake are located in both Tennessee and Kentucky

The lake has over 160,000 acres of water and 2,064 miles of shoreline. Many great bass fishing tournaments have been held there over the years.

The vast lake is very beautiful with many bushes and wildflowers located around it’s banks.

There are many shallow areas that are excellent for fishing. You can find a wide variety of fish including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, yellow bass, sauger, bluegill, catfish, and crappie.

11. Herb Parsons Lake


Herb Parsons Lake is a small lake located in Collierville, Tennessee, about 35 miles East of Memphis. This hidden gem is a great place to take the family. If you don’t own your own boat, there are places to rent boats for the day or by the hour.

There is a seven mile walking trail that goes around the lake. You can bring a picnic and spend the whole day fishing and hiking around the lake.

Here you can find Largemouth bass and yellow bass plus a number of other varieties of fish including catfish, bluegill and crappie.

12. Pickwick Lake


Pickwick Lake runs for fifty miles between Alabama and Tennessee with some areas crossing into Mississippi. Fisherman from all three states flock to this lake for the excellent fishing year round.

You can find a large number of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass in spring, summer and fall. The winter months may have less fish, but it is still possible to find a great catch even then.

Pickwick is home to a number of tournaments every year from youth to major professionals.

Bass Fishing Regulations and Licenses

fisherman holding a large mouth bass closeup

A fishing license or permit is required to fish in Tennessee. You can purchase a fishing license online through the Tennessee state government or a temporary license at many local businesses where you buy fishing supplies.

Children under thirteen years old do not need a permit or fishing license.

Tennessee offers an annual free fishing day each June where anyone can fish without a license.

Tennessee does have some regulations for bass fishing including minimum lengths for some varieties. You can read detailed information of the statewide limits and regulations online.

Bass fishermen on Lake TN

The Best Time of Year for Bass Fishing

For the best bass fishing in Tennessee, you’ll want to go at the right time of year. You can find bass in Tennessee’s lakes year round and there is no closed season but the best bass fishing is in the high season.

The high season is in springtime from April to May, this is when it’s easiest to find the most bass. The low season is in winter from December to February. You can still find bass in Tennessee’s lakes during the low season, but it might take you a bit longer to get a good catch.

Time to Get Ready for The Best Bass Fishing in Tennessee

With so many great bass fishing lakes to choose from the hardest part will be deciding where to go first. Which Tennessee lake are you planning to visit on your next fishing trip? For more things to do in Tennessee, check out our Tennessee section on the blog.