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Best Catfish Fishing In Tennessee

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Guide to fishing for flathead, blue, white and channel catfish in TN.

By AA-Fishing Staff Writers

Tennessee is a fantastic destination for catfish fishing, offering a variety of species that attract anglers from near and far. Channel catfish, known for their excellent table fare and fighting abilities, are a popular catch in the state. These fish can be found in rivers, lakes, and reservoirs throughout Tennessee, including the Cumberland River, the Tennessee River, and Reelfoot Lake. Anglers targeting channel catfish often use a variety of baits such as chicken liver, stinkbaits, or prepared catfish baits. Spring and summer are particularly productive seasons for channel catfish fishing, as they become more active and feed more aggressively.

Flathead catfish are another prized species in Tennessee, known for their large size and powerful fights. These fish prefer deeper waters with ample cover, such as fallen trees or submerged structures. The Tennessee River system, including the Tennessee River and its tributaries, offers excellent opportunities to target flathead catfish. Anglers often use live bait, such as large minnows or sunfish, to entice these predatory fish. Flathead catfish can be caught year-round, but they tend to be more active during warmer months when water temperatures rise.

Tennessee is also home to blue catfish, which can grow to impressive sizes and provide an exhilarating angling experience. These fish are often found in larger rivers and reservoirs, including the Mississippi River and Kentucky Lake. Blue catfish are known for their powerful runs and strong fighting abilities. Anglers targeting blue catfish often use cut bait, such as skipjack herring or shad, to attract these voracious predators. Spring and summer are prime seasons for blue catfish fishing, as they become more active and move into shallower waters to feed.

Whether you're pursuing channel catfish, flathead catfish, white catfish or blue catfish, Tennessee offers a wealth of opportunities for catfish anglers. The state's rivers, lakes, and reservoirs are home to thriving catfish populations, ensuring an exciting and rewarding fishing experience. Anglers of all skill levels can enjoy the thrill of battling these impressive fish while relishing the delicious rewards they provide.

Catfish fishing in Tennessee

Catfish Waters In TN

Catfish are in virtually all waters in Tennessee. Major lakes with catfish include Boone Lake, Calderwood Reservoir, Center Hill Lake, Cheatham Lake, Cherokee Lake, Chickamauga Lake, Chilhowee Lake, Cordell Hull Lake, Dale Hollow Reservoir, Douglas Lake, Fort Loudoun Lake, Fort Patrick Henry Reservoir, Garrett Lake, Gibson County Lake, Great Falls Lake, J Percy Priest Lake, John Sevier Reservoir, Kentucky Lake, Lake Barkley, Melton Hill Lake, Nickajack Lake, Normandy Lake, Norris Lake, Ocoee Lake, Old Hickory Lake, Parksville Reservoir, Percy Priest Lake, Pickwick Lake, Reelfoot Lake, South Holston Lake, Tellico Reservoir, Tims Ford Lake, Watauga Lake, Watts Bar Lake and Woods Reservoir. Catfish are also found in most rivers, smaller lakes and ponds as well.

Fishing Boats For Rent In TN

Catfish in Tennessee

Channel Catfish

Channel catfish

World record: 58 lbs 0 oz

State Record: 41 lbs 0 oz

Flathead Catfish

Flathead catfish

World record: 123 lbs 9 oz

State Record: 85 lbs 15 oz

Blue Catfish

Blue catfish

World record: 143 lbs 0 oz

State Record: 112 lbs 0 oz

Click the images and links above for species details.

What's the best bait for catfish in Tennessee?

Choose from the top 5 all-time catfish baits and try them on local waters. Appealing to the keen sense of smell and taste could turn a so-so day into a memorable event.

The state record channel catfish was pulled out of Fall Creek Lake.

Cumberland River, Lock C turned out the state record blue catfish.

The Hiwassee River was home to the state record flathead catfish.

Catfish fishing from the bank

There are many species of catfish and even more ways to catch them. Adults range in size from less than a pound to hundreds of pounds. Catfish are found in all types of water including ponds, streams, lakes and rivers throughout Tennessee. There are even species which spend a limited amount of time on dry land. Big giant catfish put up a very noble fight once hooked.

Additional catfishing information resources.

Catfish Conservation Group

U.S. Catfish Anglers Tournaments

Planet Catfish

Most catfish are considered bottom feeders to one extent or another. They will generally eat anything that can get in their mouth. Their strongest sense is smell which they use to locate potential food sources. Capitalizing on this sense is the primary weapon in your search for these creatures. Aggressive catfish have been caught on most types of fast moving bass lures so don't under estimate their ability to catch live bait.


Information for states with catfish.

AL Catfish Fishing AR Catfish Fishing AZ Catfish Fishing CA Catfish Fishing CO Catfish Fishing CT Catfish Fishing DE Catfish Fishing FL Catfish Fishing GA Catfish Fishing HI Catfish Fishing IA Catfish Fishing ID Catfish Fishing IL Catfish Fishing
IN Catfish Fishing KS Catfish Fishing KY Catfish Fishing LA Catfish Fishing MA Catfish Fishing MD Catfish Fishing ME Catfish Fishing MI Catfish Fishing MN Catfish Fishing MO Catfish Fishing MS Catfish Fishing MT Catfish Fishing
NC Catfish Fishing ND Catfish Fishing NE Catfish Fishing NH Catfish Fishing NJ Catfish Fishing NM Catfish Fishing NV Catfish Fishing NY Catfish Fishing OH Catfish Fishing OK Catfish Fishing OR Catfish Fishing PA Catfish Fishing
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