From the Appalachians through Middle Tennessee fine trout fishing prospects abound year after year. Plus, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) biologists continually consider management options that improve opportunities, and some already fine fisheries only promise to get better. Rainbows that commonly weigh 7 or 8 pounds are caught using troll spoons, jigs and crankbaits, mostly in colors that imitate shad and alewives.
Some good eastern Tennessee locations are found within the boundaries of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and anglers fishing park waters get a bonus because the entire park (half of which is in North Carolina) is open to fishing with a Tennessee license. All trout fishing in the park is for wild trout, as no fish have been stocked inside park boundaries since 1975. Wild rainbows are common in every major river or stream in the park, and the lower ends of most large rivers also support good brown trout populations. Other eastern Tennessee locations include the Tellico River, just south of Knoxville that skirts the Nantahala National Forest, and the Cinch River approximately 35 miles west of Knoxville. The Cinch River boasts a state weigh-in record brown trout at 28 pounds, 12 ounces. Rainbows make up a high percentage of the trout stocking mix, but browns grow to the biggest sizes.
TWRA stocks thousands of trout each year in Middle Tennessee, including brook trout in support of anglers who enjoy fly fishing. Brown trout have been stocked in Dale Hollow Lake since 2009, and have done very well in Dale Hollow’s deep, cool water, resulting in an exciting fishery. Downstream of Dale Hollow Dam, the Obey River is heavily stocked and provides good and very predictable fishing action through spring and summer. The Obey is narrow and gets pretty much washed out on high water, so most anglers fish it on weekends, when power generation at the dam is less common. Dale Hollow and tailwater, located in Middle Tennessee is just south of the Kentucky State border.
The Caney Fork River east of Nashville offers several miles of outstanding trout waters and ranks among the state’s best trout rivers year after year. Some spots along the river can be waded, while several stretches really lend themselves better to floating in a kayak or canoe. The Caney Fork gets stocked from March through December with rainbow and brown trout supporting trout fishing from Center Hill Lake Dam all the way to the river’s confluence with the Cumberland River.
Fall is a great time to be in the Volunteer State fishing because substantial rain this year has vitalized Tennessee’s rivers and streams, providing bountiful aquatic insects and vegetation for trout to feed on. Not only are the fish feeding heavy, the brown trout begin spawning in fall, causing them to move out to shallower water which makes them more accessible this time of year. An ideal situation for any dedicated trout fisherman.