Fishing at Cherokee Lake, Tennessee
Largemouth bass have responded well to the 15-inch size limit imposed in 2001. There are now a substantial number of fish in the more desirable size-classes.

Spotted (Kentucky) bass make up a fair percentage of the black bass population. Unlike largemouth and smallmouth, this species rarely reaches quality-size in any east Tennessee reservoir. They also utilize the same habitat and compete with the more quality-size smallmouth bass. As a result, anglers are encouraged to keep these fish for the table. There is no size restriction and the limit is 15 spotted bass per day.

STRIPED and CHEROKEE (HYBRID) BASS:

Striped bass stocking: 2013 - 92,180; 2012 - 61,472; 2011 - 72,977; 2010 - 72,039; 2007 - 151,818; 2006 - 168,434; 2005 - 133,646
Hybrid stocking: 2013 - 22,512; 2012 - 43,700; 2011 - 44,160; 2010 - 82,906; 2009 - 85,741; 2008 - 85,382; 2007 - 55,006; 2006 - 56,882
Stripers are fairly numerous in the lake. Although some large striped bass are caught, they do not normally grow big in Cherokee due to poor dissolved oxygen levels in the summer months. The average weight of stripers in the 2011 angler survey was 8.9 lb.

Hybrids, the artificial cross between striped and white bass, are more tolerant of warm water and low oxygen levels. Many have been stocked since 2000 in the hope that they will offer a more diverse opportunity for anglers. They survive and grow exceptionally well in Cherokee.

The current daily creel limit for both hybrid and striped bass is two, 15-inch fish in any combination. Stripers congregate in the summer within an oxygen refuge area near the dam and are very susceptible to over exploitation. A closed fishing zone has been established near the dam from July 15 through September 15 to protect the fishery.

CRAPPIE:

Blacknose crappie stocking: 2010 - 103,099; 2009 - 139,068; 2008 - 62,582; 2007 - 72,775
Black crappie: 2006 - 56,071
TWRA's 2008 angler survey estimated that 66,143 crappie were caught and 21% of the total angling effort was for crappie. They are obviously very important to anglers and we have taken steps to improve the fishery.

Blacknose and black crappie have been stocked during the past several years. Blacknose are genetically similar to black crappie which is the dominant crappie in the reservoir. The black stripe on their nape and lower jaw allows biologists to monitor the success of the stocking program.

The 10-inch, 15-fish daily creel limit coupled with TWRA's stocking efforts should help improve crappie fishing in the future.

WALLEYE and SAUGER:

Walleye stocking: 2013 - 42,504; 2012 - 46,375; 2011 - 92,220; 2010 - 158,512; 2009 - 79,420; 2008 - 168,535; 2007 - 146,959; 2006 - 75,629
Saugeye: 2013 - 104,322; 2012 - 1,600
Sauger stocking: 2002 - 93,996; 2001 - 59,502; 2000 - 100,900
Sauger are well adapted to the warm, turbid waters of Cherokee Lake and many were stocked from 2000 to 2002. Although good survival was documented through our gill net sampling, only a limited number were ever caught by anglers. Saugeye, the hybrid between sauger and walleye, are also well adapted to the conditions and grow exceptionally fast. The TWRA has stocked several since 2012 in hope they will be more susceptible to anglers than were sauger.

The TWRA plans to stock walleye and saugeye exclusively in the future to maintain a quality pike-perch fishery. There is a 10-fish per day in combination, 15-inch minimum length limit for sauger, walleye, and saugeye.

PADDLEFISH:

Paddlefish stocking: 2011 - 525; 2008 - 1,002; 2006 - 450
One of the Tennessee's largest recreational snag fishery for paddlefish has existed in the headwaters of Cherokee for many years. Anglers are allowed one fish per day with no size limit from March 1 through March 15. Culling of paddlefish, whereby an angler removes a fish from his or hers possession and replaces it with another more desirable fish, is not allowed.

FISHING TIPS:

Striped bass- During the late fall and early spring many striped bass move upstream to the John Sevier Steam Plant. Year round, but especially in the summer when dissolved oxygen levels are low, the lower section of the reservoir from Macedonia Hollow to the dam is hard to beat. Live shad or large shiners with single hook, sinker, and greater than 15 lb. test monofilament is a well-used method. One-ounce white doll flies with 6-inch plastic trailers, Red Fins or Little Mac plugs, Sassy Shads on 1-oz lead head, Zara Spooks, white Slug-gos, and jigging spoons are also used.

Largemouth bass- The highest catch occurs in March and April when the water warms and bass move to shallow water to spawn. Some popular tackle are Silver Buddies, Carolina-rigged plastic lizards, 4-inch plastic worms, crankbaits, Shad Raps, Rapalas, Rat-L-Traps, spinner baits, buzz baits, and many more.

Smallmouth bass- They move to clay and gravel points in the spring. Fish live bait on the bottom, Carolina-rigged lizards, or cast firetiger or shad colored Shad Raps, Rapalas, and Rebels.

Crappie- Fish in coves near fish attractors, brush piles, or downed trees in the early spring or late fall. Small minnows, plastic grubs, flies tipped with minnows, and small crankbaits work best.

Walleye- The best season is from January through May when they concentrate upstream near the steam plant. Best caught with small flies tipped with minnows, Rooster Tail or June Bug spinners, plastic grubs, and hair doll flies.

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