If you’re looking for a great place to go fishing, Chattanooga is the place to be. With its many rivers and lakes, as well as its proximity to the Chickamauga Dam and Lake, there are plenty of excellent fishing spots to choose from.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best places to go fishing near Chattanooga in East Tennessee. Some of these are in Chattanooga proper and some require a short drive from the city.
Types of Fish You Can Find in Chattanooga Fishing Spots
Tennesssee is home to 315 species of freshwater fish, with around 280 of them native to the state. Some sources credit the state with the most species of freshwater fish in the US, so you’re bound to find some amazing fishing here.
Listed below are the most commonly caught fish species in the state. We can’t go into all of the possibilities, but these are the ones that you’re most likely to see on your line.
There are several trout species native to Tennessee waters, including rainbow trout, brook trout, brown trout, cutthroat trout and lake trout. You can find all of these in and around Chattanooga.
There are also several catfish species in Tennessee waters, more than 20 to be exact, but only six are commonly caught on angler’s lines including channel catfish, blue catfish, flathead catfish and several different bullhead catfish.
Carp are a popular game fish in Europe, and they’re becoming more popular with US anglers as well. Silver carp, grass carp and bighead carp can all be found in Tennessee waters.
Crappie are a popular panfish, and black crappie and white crappie can both be caught in Chattanooga fishing spots. They tend to hang out near brush, fallen trees and stumps.
Bluegill are another popular panfish, and they’re one of the most common fish in Tennessee waters. You can find them in just about any body of water, including ponds, lakes and rivers. This is what our family most commonly catches in local lakes.
Largemouth bass are a popular game fish, and they’re plentiful in Tennessee. You can find them in just about any body of water that has cover for them to hide in, including brush, logs, docks and underwater vegetation.
Smallmouth bass are another popular game fish, and they’re also plentiful in Tennessee. They prefer clear water with rocky bottoms and little vegetation.
White bass are a popular fish to eat, and they’re also good game fish. You can find them in large rivers and reservoirs.
Perch are a popular panfish, and you can find them in lakes and rivers. They like to hang out near submerged vegetation, brush or logs. This is another very common fish my kids like to catch in our local lakes.
Best Places to go Fishing Near Chattanooga
Booker T. Washington State Park
This state park is located on the shores of Chickamauga Lake, and it’s a great place to fish for bass, catfish, crappie and bluegill. There’s also a swimming pool, picnic areas, playground, several fishing piers and a boat ramp.
Location: 20 minutes away from downtown Chattanooga at 5801 Champion Rd, Chattanooga
Chester Frost Park
This park is a county park that is also located on the shores of Chickamauga Lake. It’s a great area to fish and fishing tournaments are regularly held here. You can fish from piers on the lake or launch your boat from one of the boat ramps. You can also camp here, play disc golf and enjoy the swimming beach (just don’t fish there!).
Location: 25 minutes from downtown Chattanooga at 7872 Causeway Rd, Hixson
As you can see from the two parks above, the Chickamauga area is excellent for fishing. You can fish in the lake/reservoir but you can also fish the area below the dam, and it has some excellent fishing. You will find both boat ramps and fishing piers at the dam.
Location: 4631 Amnicola Highway, Chattanooga
Harrison Bay State Park
This beautiful state park was the first state park in Tennessee and is also located on the Chickamauga Lake and is a fisherman’s paradise with almost 40 miles of shoreline. You’ll find your usual lineup of Tennessee freshwater fish here and you can also camp, boat (all kinds of boats and water recreation vehicles are allowed), mountain bike, hike and a lot more at this large park.
Location: 8411 Harrison Bay Road, Harrison
Nickajack Lake is the reservoir created by the Nickajack Dam and is a great place to fish for bass, catfish, crappie and bluegill. You can fish from the shoreline fishing berms or from a boat (boat ramps are available). This is an amazing spot to see endangered bats in their natural habitat and is also a prime bird watching area.
Location: The dam is around a 30 minute drive from downtown Chattanooga at Hogjaw Rd, New Hope
This is wonderful river fishing as well as a great place for water sports. You can find trout, bass, bluegill, crappie and striped bass in the river. You’ll find both rushing waters and still areas along the river, with several boat ramps along the way. The Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge area has some great fishing.
Location: This river stretches 55 miles from an area near the North Carolina border to the Tennessee River.
Other areas that have decent fishing are the Tellico River (a bit of a drive from downtown), Camp Jordan Park, Lookout Creek, Raccoon Mountain and the Tennessee Riverpark.
Tips on how to have a successful fishing trip in Chattanooga
Now that you know what kind of fish you can find in Chattanooga fishing spots, here are a few tips on how to have a successful trip.
1. Get a Tennessee fishing license. You can get one online or at most sporting goods stores.
2. Choose the right bait for the fish you’re trying to catch. Worms or minnows are good all-purpose bait, but if you’re targeting a specific fish, ask at the bait shop what’s working best.
3. Don’t forget your sunscreen and insect repellent. The sun can be intense in Chattanooga, even on cloudy days, and there are plenty of mosquitoes around too.
4. Bring a first-aid kit, just in case.
5. Make sure you have the right gear. A good fishing rod and reel, line, hooks and sinkers are essential. If you’re not sure what to get, ask at the bait shop or sporting goods store.
6. Don’t forget food and drinks, especially if you’re planning to spend a whole day fishing.
7. Lastly, have fun and relax. Fishing is supposed to be enjoyable, so don’t get too stressed out if you don’t catch anything. Just enjoy being outdoors and spending time with your family or friends.
Chattanooga is a great place to fish, and there are plenty of spots within 20 miles of the city where you can catch a variety of fish. Follow these tips and you’re sure to have a successful trip.