There’s never been a better time for spring fishing in Tennessee, so grab your favorite rod and reel and hit the water! Here are the places you won’t want to miss.
Percy Priest Lake
Jim Duckworth says casting a 1/2-ounce white Zorro Aggravator spinnerbait with silver blades among the bushes is about the best technique for the upper end of Percy Priest. The water is usually high or flooding the shoreline in March and that‚Äôs like a dinner bell to these pre-spawn bass.
He says begin hitting the bushes on the outside of a pocket then cast to every bush until you are at the back of the pocket. Was there a pattern? If bass are hitting on the point bushes and not in the back, then spend your time working the point bushes. It shouldn’t take you long to determine where the bass are holding.
Casting a lizard on a Carolina rig on mid-lake humps and secondary points is another of his recommendations, but don‚Äôt ignore flats. Bass are looking for a place to spawn even if they aren’t quite ready.
Jim Duckworth guides for bass and crappie on Percy Priest and Center Hill. Check out his Web site at www.fishingtennessee.com, or call (615) 444-2283.
Crappie anglers in East Tennessee say that Douglas Lake is the place for springtime crappies. The spots to hit range from Swan Bridge to Taylor Bend and Nina Creek. When the lake begins to clear, crappies move into the bushes to spawn.
It‚Äôs time to hit the upper section of Ft. Loudoun Lake for smallies. Fish the mouths of Little Turkey, Little River and Sinking Creek by flipping a jig, swimming a spinnerbait and running a lizard along the gravel slopes, riprap and old road beds.
Bob Latendresse showed me a grandest time pulling in crappie from the New Johnsonville area of Kentucky Lake. The best crappie-catching day I‚Äôve ever had was when we anchored along a bank in Birdsong Creek to reel in crappies for more than two hours. I think we had to be catching the same fish two or three times because we didn‚Äôt move from the one spot and caught a crappie with more than 90 percent of our casts. The fish hit small chartreuse jigs with a touch of black.
Bob Latendresse guides on Kentucky Lake for crappie and bass and on the Buffalo River for smallies. He can be reached at (731) 220-0582.
Reelfoot Lake is known for its bluegills. This natural lake is shallow and weedy. The water warms fast and bluegills begin to spawn by mid-month. Crickets and mealworms are never-fail baits.
Crappie in the backwaters of Lake Barkley near Cumberland City are primed for spawning, so dunk some minnows and small jigs in the creeks and among bushes.
Percy Priest Lake
Hybrids are moving into their summer pattern. Schools cruise the 16-foot depth along the main channel and major creek channels. Gene Austin has found that the rainbow trout colored Fin-S bait on a 3/8-ounce leadhead is the top bait. Hybrids show up in the same places every year ‚Äď Suggs, Hamilton, Long Hunter, Stewarts, Fall and Spring Creeks and both forks of the Stones River. The lake has been heavily stocked with hybrids in past years and you should hang several reaching 12 pounds.
Gene Austin guides for hybrids, stripers, crappies and bass on Priest, and bass on Dale Hollow. His telephone number is (615) 218-4472.
Smallies near Willow Grove on Dale Hollow Lake are eager to find your minnow free-swimming along the bluffs. A 4-inch shiner on a number two gold hook and light line does all the work.
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park has many trout streams. The indigenous brook trout can be found in the higher elevations but the stocked rainbows and browns are easier to find. Little River and its prongs are the most popular areas for rainbows.
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MSRP: Pricing starts at $22,195.
The 186 VLO measures in at 18 feet 9 inches with an 89-inch beam. The boat is built on a fiberglass, foam-filled hull and weighs in at 1,450 pounds and can hold a payload of 1,320 pounds. Maximum room is devoted to rod and tackle storage and fishing deck. VLO comes with a cus-tom-built, single axle trailer with submersible lights, a swing jack and a swing-away tongue.
The YUMphibian creature bait has two small swimming arms at the top, a pair of longer curl tails at the end, and two big ‚Äúflappers‚ÄĚ at the mid-point. Pitch it, flip it, or work it deep. Customize by pinching off appendag-es to create less water disturbance for finicky or pressured fish. 4 1/2, 5 1/4 and 6 inches in 10 color options.
Suzuki‚Äôs two new four-stroke, two-cylinder portable outboards have a compression reduction system for easier starting. The 20hp tiller model weighs 97 pounds the eletric-start model weighs 106 pounds. Single overhead cam, four-valve engine with Suzuki‚Äôs Lean Burn Control and bat-tery-less electronic fuel injection. Built for running in skinny water, both motors come with five tilt pin positions and 15- or 20-inch shaft.
Shakespeare‚Äôs new Micro Series Combos provide lightweight actions and are suited perfectly for panfish. They come in spinning and spin-casting models with high-quality components and each is spooled with Stren monofilament.
Ranger Boat is introducing a line of aluminum boats called The Tourna-ment Series. There are three models:
‚ÄĘ RT 178 sports a 17-foot, 8-inch bass configuration.
‚ÄĘ RT 178C has a similar platform (17 feet, 8 inches) but designed for crap-pie and multispecies angling.
‚ÄĘ RT188, an 18-foot, 8-inch bass de-sign rated for 115 horsepower.
Rapala is hoping the new Scatter Rap Series lures and their ‚Äúevasive action‚ÄĚ will be as popular as the original ‚Äúwounded minnow‚ÄĚ style action that the company is famous for. The new lure has a ‚ÄúScatter Lip‚ÄĚ that creates an evasive, erratic, aggressive sweep-ing action. Ideal for multispecies gamefish, the Scatter Rap Series is available in 14-16 classic and new color patterns. Baits 5- to 9-feet deep.
YUM‚Äôs F2 MightEE Worm is 10 1/2-inches long, has an arrowhead shaped bulge toward the end and is made for big bass. Because the worm tapers to a smaller circumference before blow-ing back out to the bulge, the tail sec-tion wags back-and-forth in the water with each breath of current.
On-the-go anglers will find a lot to like in Plano‚Äôs new Flex ‚ÄėN Go Tack-le Satchel. It features adjustable built-in storage with a deep bin on one side and framework for the pair of swap-pable Plano 3600 StowAway boxes on the other, each Stowaway held with a flexible strap.
Honda Marine‚Äôs BF250 outboard is a 24-valve 3.6-liter V6 that uses varia-ble valve timing and lift electronic control (VTEC). Programmed fuel injection delivers the precise amount of fuel and air to each cylinder for easy starts and instant throttle re-sponse. 20-, 25- and 30-inch shaft models.
MSRP, $18.95 per pair.
The original Gear Grabbar is a unique way to hold lures and tools at the ready in boats. But the new Lure Hangar is a step beyond. This is a 12- by 16 1/2-inch plate,m ade to mount on your gunwhale, that holds 16 or more lures. There‚Äôs enough room for a selection of jig, plugs, topwaters or whatever other baits you want to hang.
Triton‚Äôs 21 TrX measures 21 feet and features a 95-inch beam. The bow has a 20 percent larger fishing area than last year‚Äôs model. A bow panel is ready for flush-mount electronics up to 12 inches, and has an organizer for pliers and baits. Stows 24 rods in the bow, 10 more in the center locker and another 14 in the port side. tri-tonboats.com.
MSRP,Package of 12 Juice Worms $3.49.
Designed by Boyd Duckett, the new Havoc Juice Worm gives anglers more action which produces more strikes than any other worms on the market. The slim ribbed 8-inch body has a long, flexible ribbon tail that produces a unique swimming action. 20 colors.
G-Loomis‚ÄôJig and Worms Serie GLX rods offer sensitivity to feel the bite and the power to control the fish. GLX models feature Fuji Titanium SIC guides, along with a new proprie-tary reel seat and split-grip handle configurations.
Crestliner‚Äôs VT19 has a .100 gauge aluminum hull, is 19 feet long with a 91-inch beam. Rated for 150 horse-power and has a top speed of 60 mph. 1,085 pounds and a maximum pay-load of 1,300 pounds. An elevated starboard console has a windscreen, switch panel, gauges and in-dash Lowrance depth finder. 30-gallon aerated livewell. Motor Guide trolling motor.
If you wade when you fish, Fish-N-Hunt Pro Gear designed a Tackle Tote Vest that to keep gear accessible but dry when you‚Äôre standing in deeper waters. It‚Äôs adjustable, sturdy, has lots of pockets and a modest pricetag.
MSRP, Jacket $249.99-$269;
Cabela‚Äôs Guidewear raingear now comes in four distinct series. Bass Angler (pictured) jackets and bibs are built with the tournament bass angler in mind. Xtreme parkas and bibs will help anglers fishing Northern lakes and rivers. Tidal jackets and pants offer lightweight, waterproof and breathable protection. River Runner jackets are perfect for wading anglers.
MSRP, $18,178-$22,950, no motor, trailer.
Carolina Skiff‚Äôs DLV Series is an unsinkable, all-fiberglass, modified-V hull designed for offshore or shallow-water fishing. The series has five siz-es, from the 17-foot DLV 178 with a 90-horsepower outboard to the 25-foot DLV 258 that powers up with a 200hp. High-speed bilge pump, cush-ion seat set, built-in cooler and plenty of storage.
Abu Garcia‚Äôs Revo SX baitcasting reel is now 25 percent lighter than before. The SX frame is crafted of a strong alloy while the handle sideplate are built with weight-reducing C6 carbon. Holds 145 yards of 12-pound mono.
Anglers who use jar baits know it‚Äôs a pain to carry more than a few. Berk-ley now has two Jar Bait Folders to keep the baits at hand and make them easy to transport. Model 1170 holds 10 jars. Model 1490 holds 16. Both have various pockets and a D-ring for pliers.
Berkley says they‚Äôve improved a classic. New Trilene XL lines are now 10 percent stronger 20 percent more flexibility then they had been. Knot strength has also improved, said the company. Trilene XL has been around since 1972.