With many newcomers moving to our East Tennessee bit of heaven, I thought it might be helpful to point out some piscatorial options.
Fairfield Glade has 11 lakes inside its boundaries. The two larger lakes, Dartmoor and St. George, have each produced 9- to 12-pound large mouth bass in recent years.
Every two weeks during the summer, the Fairfield Glade Bass Club holds rotating tournaments, moving from lake to lake.
At nearly every weigh-in, 30-90 bass are brought to the tape. Don’t worry, 99% are quickly returned, alive and healthy, back into the waters. Weight limits aren’t large, but there always seems to be a 3- or 4-pound bass that takes Big Bass honors. Panfish and catfish also swim freely in all of the lakes.
I am not saying the fish are easily caught. That is part of the thrill of the chase in fishing. The fish are there. It is the fisherman’s job to find them and get them to bite. I grew up fishing mud-bottomed Southern Wisconsin lakes, with lots of weeds and lily pads. That is not what the fish-chasers will find here. Rocky bottoms and deep holes abound. I’ve spent six summers fishing and have yet it to feel that I have it figured out.
Less than an hour’s drive to the east, one will find Watts Bar Lake. It holds smallmouth and largemouth bass, stripers, a few muskies and panfish. From the Dr. Tom Fuller Park launch, I’ve caught 2- to 4-pound largemouth ass within a city block or so after dropping my tin boat into the water.
About an hour and 20 minutes to the southeast one comes to the town of Dayton. Not only is it the home of the infamous Monkey Trial, but it also sports a large, free boat launch onto Lake Chickamauga. The “Chick,” as it is known nationally, is the target of many large bass tournaments. The Bassmaster Elite fished there in October. A few years ago, the Chick was rated as the No. 2 bass-fishing lake in the United States. It dropped down to No. 5 or 6 recently, I have been told.
To the east, just off I-40, Melton Hill Dam launch opens that large body of water to easy access. Below the dam, I had a guide take me to catch a 40-pound (estimated) striper. Muskies, largemouth bass and stripers are all swimming up and down the lake. Your job is to find and catch them.
At the upper end of Melton Hill, near the weir, is the Clinch River. It holds many rainbow trout, in addition to all of the other species in the lake. The Clinch winds its way for many miles. I have yet to really figure it out.
Speaking of trout, an hour to the west, just below the Center Hill Dam, the Caney Fork River meanders beneath I-40. The Caney not only offers canoe and kayak rides to our visitors but also holds both rainbow and brown trout. Fairfield Glade’s Don Hazel has sponsored many free trips to wade the river for the elusive trout.
I took an excellent river float trip down the Caney with trout guide David Knapp a few years ago. David provided the fly rods and equipment, and we caught a good number of trout, though the biggest ones didn’t show up that day. Try it, you will like it!
It would be impossible to not mention that we are just an hour and a half from Dale Hollow Lake. Located to the northwest, Dale Hollow holds walleyed pike, muskies, smallmouth and largemouth bass. In fact, the world’s largest walleye was caught in Dale Hollow many years ago. An impressive replica of that fish is hung on the wall of the Tennessee Parks and Wildlife offices in Crossville.
There are many other lakes and river options to exercise your piscatorial finding skills, all at a reasonable drive from the Glade. There are some fine fishermen/women in the Glade. I may not be one of them but I still wanted to share the many watery haunts that are close-by.