Anderson County: Tennessee’s Undisputed Musky Capital
When the vast majority of anglers think of musky fishing their minds are drawn Northerly, and I can’t blame them. However, as a Nationally Published Musky Angling Author, International Brand Spokesperson, Video and Podcast Musky Fishing Personality, Lure Designer, and Professional Musky Guide, there is a distinct reason I spend the majority of my days in Anderson County, Tennessee. With so many irons in the fire that is the musky fishing industry, I could have set up shop just about anywhere these toothy critters swim, but East Tennessee just won’t let me go.
Yes, its splendid unquestionable beauty may have played a small part in my setting down roots, and I would be remiss to say that access to some of the world’s best Southern cooking didn’t turn me away either. Kind people willing to help a stranger wasn’t a deterrent nor is the safe feeling one has nestled in these rolling hills. But as resplendent as all these notions are, the two things that led me here (and now keep me here) some twenty years ago were Melton Hill Reservoir and Norris Lake.
While some outdoors enthusiasts are interested in the adrenaline rush of renting a jet ski on Norris Lake, spending a lazy day on a pontoon boat anchored up in the sun on Melton Hill, or hiking one of the numerous beautiful trails all of which you can do right here in Anderson County, I must confess that as a hard-core angler, my sole focus is the muskies that call these waters home.
The following might come as a shock to even the most seasoned musky angler, but Melton Hill and Norris Lake are world-class musky fisheries. I have spent years on the Canadian Shield Lakes filming and traveled across the entirety of Minnesota and Wisconsin. I’ve traversed tiny rivers in the Northeast and chased tiger muskies in Washington and Oregon. Regardless, every time I return to my home waters here in Anderson County I feel eternally grateful.
To understand what makes Norris Lake and Melton Hill so special for musky angling, you might consider just how clean both of these bodies of water are. From a visual standpoint, rest assured that you won’t find litter or trash, and the ecology of these waterways is unmatched. With such clear, clean, and cool water passing from the Clinch River into Norris Lake and then subsequently Melton Hill, life is thriving and abundant. With so much care going into keeping the waterways of Anderson County clean, all aquatic species have benefited, providing a tremendous food resource for the muskies of Norris Lake and Melton Hill. I can promise you in some twenty-odd years, I have never once caught a skinny muskie, clearly a testament to the abundance of the waterways of Anderson County.
Another element that makes Anderson County such a special place to target muskies is the lack of fishing pressure. While waterways in the North may have more muskies per acre than local waters, in Anderson County the angling pressure for muskies is far lower. This taken in conjunction with the vastness of Norris Lake, with its staggering 800 miles of shoreline, anglers can without a doubt find muskies that haven’t seen a lure for years or possibly their entire life.
While Norris Lake is undeniably an oversized attraction, Melton Hill is by no means small, but much more manageable. With 173 miles of shoreline, the musky anglers on Melton Hill won’t have a problem finding a little slice of fishing heaven far removed from other boats. Anglers can also expect a thriving musky population with continued stocking efforts and a 50-inch minimum regulation in place.
While I could endlessly sing the praises of musky fishing on Melton Hill and Norris Lake, understanding just how magical they are requires an intimate visit to East Tennessee. I would also mention, that as a married man and fanatical musky angler, I know we often have to make tradeoffs when it comes to family vacations. But I can promise you Anderson County, Tennessee has some amazing museums, parks, and recreational activities (including the nearby Smoky Mts. and Gatlinburg) to supply the entire family with fun while a few members sneak off for a day chasing the muskies of their dreams.
USCG Captain Steven Paul
Steven Paul holds the Tennessee State Record for Muskellunge. He is also an Outdoors Author, International Award-winning Lure Designer, TV, and Radio Personality, as well as, a Professional Musky Guide based in Anderson County Tennessee.
Tennessee Musky Fishing. Melton Hill Musky Guide. Tennessee Musky Fishing Charter. Musky Guide.