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JG233

Tennessee Kayak Fishing & Camping Trip

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I want to get away and put together a four or five day solo fishing trip in TN around March 15th. I plan on pitching a tent and settling in for a quiet couple days.

 

I want to target both largemouth and smallmouth, but I'm more interested in smallmouth fishing right now. A spot with a good rep for both numbers and size would be ideal--maybe I can even break my PB. 

 

Any recommendations would be very appreciated. Fishing a spot that's a couple hundred acres would be ideal. Maybe I can fish smaller sections of bigger lakes though. Let me know what you think. Thanks in advance! 

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Loaded question! Which part of TN? What's your PB that you are looking to break? How far do you want to be from civilization/cell phone service?

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6 hours ago, TnRiver46 said:

Loaded question! Which part of TN? What's your PB that you are looking to break? How far do you want to be from civilization/cell phone service?

Any part of TN. I'm about six hours from Knoxville from southeast Ohio, so that seemed to make sense. My PB is a 5.5 LMB. My PB SMB is around 4. I don't need to be super off the grid, I pretty much just want the best fishing possible from my kayak. It can be tough covering water in it over large lakes. Thanks again. 

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1 hour ago, JG233 said:

Any part of TN. I'm about six hours from Knoxville from southeast Ohio, so that seemed to make sense. My PB is a 5.5 LMB. My PB SMB is around 4. I don't need to be super off the grid, I pretty much just want the best fishing possible from my kayak. It can be tough covering water in it over large lakes. Thanks again. 

I'm in northwest Ohio right now and it was -10 with howling wind this morning, I think wind chill was -28 or something ridiculous. Hmmmm I live in knoxville and kayak/canoe fish a good bit. The PB smallmouth could easily be tied or broken but sometimes it can be tough. For smallies, April would be your worst month for river fishing on a normal weather year (because of spawning). March can be really good for river fishing in prespawn, they usually spawn in April and are hard to catch. One really good thing about spring can be the freestone streams. Tailwaters take longer to warm up but the streams/creeks/rivers without dams warm up much faster and fish much better in early spring. Fair warning, the biggest snows we have ever had in east TN occur in late march. 24" in late march of '93 was the biggest snow of my lifetime. I honestly think camping and weather are going to be your limiting factor. There's a billion places to fish just like you described but spots to camp (legally) and cold weather could hinder you a tad. Here's a few rivers I would suggest: holston, french broad, little river, little pigeon, big pigeon, clinch, Powell, harpeth (never seen it though). We don't have any natural lakes in every entire state (except reelfoot) so small lakes are few and far between and are basically dammed up creeks. A few of those that come to mind are cove lake (state park), big ridge, and Indian Boundary. These small lakes typically don't have smallmouth with the exception of John sevier on the holston (which is Famous for vehicle break-ins but not recently). It would be handy to have two cars for kayak float trips or find someone to run a shuttle. Norris lake is not too far from Ohio and in summer  loaded with buckeye fans! Always pretty easy to find camping on that lake and  has lots of smallies but they can be tricky. I would probably recommend Norris lake unless you are strictly after river fish. South holston watauga lakes are also giant smallmouth factories that could be a possibility. Panther creek state park would be a decent place to look into also on Cherokee lake, caught some there on the day after Christmas (see smallmouth section "smallies + bonus fish" report i posted)

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Kayaks are perfect for the rivers and streams and would be my choice if I were going to fish from a kayak. The problem is your choice of dates to be on vacation. Spring rains not only make camping uncomfortable, but they can also make the rivers rise to the point they are unsafe and ruin fishing. If you lived in the area, picking days when conditions are good is easy. Picking dates for the spring, 10 weeks in advance is risky. 

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The good thing about Norris lake is it stays super clear from the middle to low end barring a 100 yr flood

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Thanks for the feedback. I don't have control over the dates since that's when I'm on break from teaching. I'll research the spots you recommended and see if I can find a good option. Otherwise, maybe I don't do the trip. 

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1 minute ago, JG233 said:

Thanks for the feedback. I don't have control over the dates since that's when I'm on break from teaching. I'll research the spots you recommended and see if I can find a good option. Otherwise, maybe I don't do the trip. 

There's a ton of good options, just picking one is the tricky part. Feel free to ask any more questions you might have 

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I too would vote for Norris....it fish's year round but that time of year could be amazing.  You can look at the upper parts of the lake like on the Clinch or Powell sides and it's beautiful.  Fairly narrow too up there.

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Awesome. I've been looking up Norris info all day. There's a campground that looks to be year round up at the top of the lake, near Rocky Hollow. 

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1 hour ago, JG233 said:

Awesome. I've been looking up Norris info all day. There's a campground that looks to be year round up at the top of the lake, near Rocky Hollow. 

I'm not familiar with that one but I will look into it.  If your gear fits into your kayak you can camp on several islands for free. Cherokee lake is nearby and fishes very similar to Norris 

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Excellent @TnRiver46. I'll need to charge up my finder, ect...so I think I'll need a real camp. 

Also, I should say: if any locals are interested, you're welcome to join on a day or two. 

 

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