Thursday, September 18, 2014 · 3:41 a.m.

TWRA fishing report for area lakes

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Kellie Matt with a bragging-sized blue catfish she captured in the tailwaters of Chickamauga Dam on Monday. (Photo: Stephen Matt)

Center Hill:  Fishing is fair. The water temperature is 66, and the lake is stable.  A few bass are being caught on topwater baits and Carolina rigs while fishing up to 20 feet deep.  Crappie fishing is fair while fishing minnows around fallen trees in 5 feet of water.  A few walleye are being caught above Pates Ford while trolling in 10 feet of water. 

Chickamauga: The lake is warming. Surface water temperature is in the upper 60s. The lake is slowly on the rise. Over the past several days, the lake elevation rose a couple of inches each day. One crappie angler with credentials caught about 40 crappie along a spawning flat nearly two weeks ago. Several keeper crappie were included in the creel. In recent days, a trip that mirrored the previous trip occurred with results that included about 20 percent of the previous trip. Many other anglers reported the same results. Those anglers that chased the crappie into the deeper creek areas are still catching several fish on minnows or jigs. All indications point to the crappie peak being over. Bass anglers have caught several fish around cover. The number of bass being caught has been lower than reported in earlier weeks. Spinnerbaits, jigs and plastic worms are being used for bait most often. Some bass can be caught spawning, pre-spawning and post-spawning. Brush adjacent to spawning areas should not be overlooked by those seeking bass. Catfish can be caught while drifting in many areas.  The area near Sequoyah Nuclear Plant is one of those areas. Meaty concoctions are the choice for nearly all anglers. One angler making his living catching catfish is baiting with marshmallows. In the older days, many catfish enthusiasts used Ivory soap for bait. Marshmallows and soap cut into chunks look very similar. Stripers of the big variety and the smaller version are being targeted in the tailwaters below Watts Bar Dam. Several smallmouth bass are being caught in the same water.

Cordell Hull:  Fishing is fair.  The water temperature is 65 in the creeks; the lake is low.  Several bass are being caught while trolling spinnerbaits and jerk baits in 2 to 5 feet of water.  Crappie fishing is fair on small jigs and minnows around shallow cover in the creeks. A few sauger are being caught above Gainesboro while trolling 28 feet of water.

Dale Hollow:  Fishing is good. The water temperature is 64, and the lake is slowing falling.  Bass fishing is fair while fishing topwater baits and spinnerbaits around colors and on gravel banks.  Lots of shellcrackers are being caught on nightcrawlers while fishing gravel pockets in 5 feet of water.  Crappie fishing is fair while fishing minnows and jigs in the deeper willows in the head of the creeks. 

Nickajack: The lake areas have warmed to 70 degrees. Shallow flats adjacent to the main channel and shallow pockets in sloughs are where the bigger numbers of bass are being caught. Some heavyweights are being caught. Spinnerbaits and jigs are being used as often as any other lures. Shellcrackers and bluegill are being caught shallow.  Bedders are just starting, and larger numbers should be found in the next few weeks. Jigs and worms are being used most often for bait. Catfish drifters are using shad, worms and meaty concoctions for bait. Some stripers are being caught in the Riverpark area. Smallmouth, largemouth and spotted bass are being caught in the same area that is located below Chickamauga Dam. Crappie can be caught in deeper areas in the sloughs and adjacent to the channels. Ditches and ledges are typical areas where post-spawners can be found. Minnows and jigs being fished vertically are a couple of techniques that can be used with sometimes wonderful results.

Watts Bar: The lake is rising slowly. Bass are being caught in many areas. Approximately 4 to 6 feet of water and brush seem to be a combination where a bigger number of bass can be caught. Some bass are being caught deeper and shallower than that. Jigs and spinnerbaits are being used most often for bait. Catfish are being caught by river drifters in the upper end of the lake. Those anglers fishing the areas near the rocky shorelines in the river and deeper coves seem to be catching more catfish than their counterparts. Live bait or cut bait are the baits used by those seeking large fish.  Striped bass and white bass can be targeted with confidence in the tailwaters below Fort Loudon Dam. Jigs, shad, spoons and crankbaits are being used most often for bait.  Crappie anglers are not catching as many as they were in the previous week. The crappie tend to be deeper and tighter in brush than they were just a week ago. This is not to say that spawners cannot still be found. Minnows and jigs are equal-opportunity offerings. Some shellcrackers are being caught in some areas of the Clinch River. Roostertails, jigs and waxworms are being used for bait.

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