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Guide To Panfish Fishing Options In Tennessee

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All about fishing for panfish in TN lakes and ponds.

Panfish fishing in Colorado

Throughout the state of Tennessee you can find waters with populations of sunfish, including bluegill, flier sunfish, green sunfish, longear sunfish, pumpkinseed sunfish, redbreast sunfish, redear sunfish, rock bass, spotted sunfish, warmouth, white bass, yellow bass and yellow perch.

Tennessee offers excellent opportunities for panfish fishing, providing anglers of all ages, including youth, with exciting and accessible fishing experiences. Two popular panfish species in Tennessee are sunfish and perch, which are known for their abundance and willingness to bite.

Sunfish, including bluegill and redear sunfish (also known as shellcrackers), are common targets for panfish anglers in Tennessee. These colorful fish can be found in lakes, reservoirs, and rivers throughout the state. Sunfish are known for their voracious appetites, making them easy to catch using simple fishing techniques and baits. Anglers often use small hooks baited with worms, insects, or small pieces of artificial bait to entice these eager feeders. Sunfish provide continuous action and are perfect for young anglers learning the basics of fishing.

Perch, particularly yellow perch, are also popular panfish species in Tennessee. These schooling fish can be found in various lakes and reservoirs across the state, including Kentucky Lake and Douglas Lake. Perch are known for their delicious meat and challenging fights for their size. Anglers targeting perch often use small jigs tipped with bait or small minnows. These fish tend to congregate in schools, making it possible to catch them in good numbers once located. Perch fishing can be both fun and rewarding for youth anglers, providing a great introduction to freshwater fishing.

Tennessee's commitment to youth fishing is evident through various initiatives and programs. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency offers free fishing days, where no fishing licenses are required, allowing young anglers to experience the joy of fishing without any barriers. Additionally, youth fishing events and educational programs are organized throughout the state to promote fishing as a family-friendly activity. These events often provide loaner fishing equipment and hands-on instruction to help children learn the fundamentals of fishing and develop a lifelong love for the sport.

Panfish fishing in Tennessee provides an excellent opportunity for youth anglers to engage with nature, learn essential fishing skills, and create lasting memories with their families. The abundance of sunfish and perch, along with the support of youth fishing programs, ensures that young anglers can enjoy a fun and rewarding fishing experience in the beautiful waterways of Tennessee.

Fishing Boats For Rent In TN

Panfish & Perch Lakes


They are everywhere. Choose Carroll County Thousand Acre Recreation Lake, 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, 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...and you'll find healthy panfish. Statewide, ponds, rivers and smaller lakes also have panfish.

Top Producing Panfish Lures & Bait

Check out the top producing lures and bait for bluegill, redear sunfish, rock bass and warmouth, as well as other smaller sunfish. Click here for the best lures for white bass, yellow bass, white perch and yellow perch.

In-state panfish, sunfish and perch



World record: 4 lbs 12 oz

State Record: 3 lbs 0 oz

Flier Sunfish

Flier sunfish

World record: 1 lbs 4 oz

State Record: 0 lbs 8 oz

Green Sunfish

Green sunfish

World record: 2.2 lbs

State Record: 1 lbs 4 oz

Longear Sunfish

Longear sunfish

World record: 1.75 lbs

State Record: 0 lbs 13 oz

Pumpkinseed Sunfish

Pumpkinseed sunfish

World record: 2 lbs 4 oz

State Record: 0 lbs 5 oz

Redbreast Sunfish

Redbreast sunfish

World record: 2 lbs 0 oz

State Record: 1 lbs 5 oz

Redear Sunfish

Redear sunfish

World record: 5.4 lbs

State Record: 3 lbs 6 oz

Rock Bass

Rock bass

World record: 3.0 lbs

State Record: 2 lbs 8 oz

Soptted Sunfish

Spotted sunfish

World record: N/A

State Record: 0 lbs 5 oz



World record: 2.4 lbs

State Record: 1 lbs 12 oz

White Bass

White Bass

World record: 6.8 lbs

State Record: 5 lbs 10 oz

Yellow Bass

Yellow bass

World record: 2 lbs 15 oz

State Record: 2 lbs 9 oz

Yellow Perch

Yellow perch

World record: 4 lbs 3 oz

State Record: 2 lbs 5 oz

Click the images and links above for species details.

Fall Creek and a private pond each turned out tying state record bluegill.

The state record flier sunfish was pulled out of Kentucky Lake.

North Cross Creek was home to the state record green sunfish.

The state record longear sunfish came from a private pond.

Dogwood lake served up the state record pumpkinseed sunfish.

The state record redbreast sunfish came out of the Holston River.

The state record redear sunfish came from a pond.

The state record orange spotted sunfish and the state record warmouth both came from the Nolichucky River.

The Mississippi River was home to the state record white bass.

The Duck River was home to the state record yellow bass.

Ocoee #3 Lake produced the state record yellow perch.

One or more species of sunfish populate virtually all warm water streams, ponds and lakes throughout Tennessee, and around the world for that matter. They can survive in waters that provide their natural food source of minnows, insects, crustaceans and worms. Their competitive nature amongst themselves, for food, makes them relatively easy to catch.

Panfish are prolific spawners and repopulate the waters as fast as they are harvested. A common problem with panfish fishing is that the waters are under-fished causing panfish to overpopulate. As a result they tend to stay small in size due to lack of food source.

The term "panfish" comprises many species, each called by a variety of names. The bluegill tops the list and is the most common.

Bluegill Fishing Basics Video

The core principles shown in this video will work for most sunfish, perch and other panfish.


Sunfish information in other states.

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Learn the lifecycle of a panfish

There is a host of panfish anglers can pursue. Visit the panfish fishing page for details on many of these sunfish you might encounter in Tennessee fishing waters.