top of page

Tennessee Musky Lakes

Tennessee boasts more musky water than most musky anglers know. While Melton Hill is the undisputed king for big Tennessee Musky there are other options for Tennessee musky fishing shouldn’t be overlooked. From the sprawling waters of Norris Lake to the tiny musky gem that is Parksville Lake let’s take a look what is unique about each of Tennessee’s Musky Lakes. 

 

Melton Hill Musky Fishing

 

Melton Hill Reservoir is 5,690 acres and is located on the Clinch River near Oak Ridge, TN. The Northwest shore is controlled by the US Department of Energy and has many reminders of the nuclear past of this lake. The nuclear program of the 40’s thrived on the cold waters that flow through Melton Hill and so do the Tennessee muskies that reside there today. In 2017 I caught the Tennessee State Record musky on Melton Hill and subsequently many more muskies are gargantuan size.

 

While Melton Hill might have the biggest muskies in Tennessee it is a fickle fishier. The muskies in Melton Hill often expect perfection in your presentations and above all else figure eights. While Melton Hill may look small while being viewed on a map the true size of this body of water rarely hits until one is on a boat. Miles of shoreline that all looks like perfect muskie habitat abounds, I have often said it would be hard to find an area on Melton Hill that doesn’t look like it should have a muskie there.

 

At this point in my Musky guiding career, I have spent countless hours on Melton Hill in the pursuit of Tennessee Muskies and can assure you that it is never an easy. Melton Hill demands that musky anglers have a wide range of skills such as precision boat control, in depth map interruption skills and a mastery of numerous musky lure classes and presentations. Keep in mind an angler might get lucky every now and again but consistency is the key when musky fishing and finding it on Melton Hill can be frustrating.

 

While it would take more than a few paragraphs to dial a musky angler in on how to catch Melton Hill Muskies a good starting point would be forgetting everything you think about musky presentations. While yes on occasion Melton Hill muskies will fall for bucktails or some other basic lure presentation this is not often the case. I designed the Livingston Lures Kraken and the Titan specifically based on my needs when targeting Melton Hill musky. More often than not Melton Hill musky want subtle presentations with a dialed in action. Melton Hill muskies spend the majority of their time in very clear water so lures like the Titan and Kraken can coax them off the bottom far easier than some bucktail haphazardly retrieved.

Melton Hill is a musky lake that can be maddening but rest assured there are monsters that lurk in her depths.

 

Parksville Lake Musky Fishing

Parksville Lake was created in 1910 in the Cherokee National Forest. While muskies were stocked here in past years make no bones about it they have been in the waters of Parksville for a long, long time. Parksville Lake is unique as it has plunging depths of over 100 feet and has very little soil or sediment. Its rocky shores are timber lined but its topography can be vexing. With few shallow vegetative zones Tennessee Muskies on Parksville Lake tend to be open water predators making it a musky trollers paradise.

 

Trolling for Tennessee muskies generally starts with large presentations like Supernatural Big Baits Headlocks and Liplocks. These larger-than-life lures drawl muskies up from the depth and in from open water. While maps of Parksville Lake are hard to get your hands on a few key things should be kept in mind while trolling there such as submerged points, steep drop offs and holes found in the bottom compositions as often Tennessee Muskies can be found there. While Parksville is best approached as a Tennessee musky trolling lake some casting opportunities exist, small lures like rattle traps and spinner baits can be effective.

 

Ocoee Dam No. 1, was built in 1910 and was completed in 1911.The dam stands 135 feet high and stretches 840 feet across the Ocoee River. Parksville Lake has 47 miles of shoreline and 1,930 acres of water surface. The reservoir fluctuates about nine feet from summer to winter and has a flood storage capacity of 19,000 acre-feet.

 

Norris Lake Musky Fishing

Norris Lake features over 809 miles of shoreline and 33,840 acres of water surface making it one of the south’s largest musky lakes. While Norris Lake undeniably has a population of Tennessee muskies its shear size makes it a game of hide and seek under most conditions. Endless shorelines, gin clear water and sheer drop offs await muskie anglers brave enough to tackle musky fishing on Norris Lake.

 

While musky anglers can have tremendous success on Norris Lake, it would be ill advised for anglers new to the sport to tackle such a massive body of water. Very few areas on Norris Lake hold muskies throughout the year but intelligent patterning can lead savvy musky anglers to their regular haunts on this monster sized lake. While the main basin might seem tempting its overall surface area and boat traffic makes this more than a daunting proposition.

On numerous occasion myself and guide clients have landed some rather impressive muskies on Norris Lake but it would be ill advised to target muskies on Norris Lake in any conditions other than prime. Having the prefrontal conditions that drawl Tennessee muskies into the shallow to feed are a prerequisite for success on Norris Lake. Shallow zones and entering water are key components while pattering this giant Tennessee musky waterway.

 

Most of my musky fishing success on Norris Lake has come from presentation like Bulldawgs and the Livingston Lures Kraken. Both of these are large presentations that have a huge vibrational and visual profile. I would mention that targeting Tennessee muskies on Norris Lake isn’t about getting “A Bite” its about getting “The Bite” and landing a true southern giant muskie.

 

Great Falls Musky Fishing

Great Falls Dam and subsequently the reservoir was built in 1916, making this reservoir on the Caney Fork River a reality. Great Falls Reservoir continues to offer opportunities for many local anglers seeking Tennessee musky among other species of fish. Great Falls is 100% natural reproduction for Tennessee muskies and is one of the easier muskie waters in the state. While Great Falls has good numbers of muskies make no mistake that Great Falls Lake has more than its fair share of fifty-inch class Tennessee muskies.

 

Catching Great Falls musky takes a bit of skill and some patterning to understand the unique elements present such as multiple entering waterways generally pelagic forage. While beating the shores of Great Falls can be productive its overall width makes both trolling and open water casting viable options. Lures like the Joe Bucher Magnum Shallow raider and the Livingston Lures Kraken excel regarding Great Falls Muskies. Trolling lures like the Supernatural Big Baits Headlock is reliable for open water trolling on this narrow river like reservoir.

 

 

Center Hill Lake Musky Fishing / Rock Island Musky Fishing

 

Rock Island resides just below Great Falls and is connected to Center Hill Lake. Rock Island is home to some rather larger muskies and can be an explosive location for late season Tennessee Musky fishing. This areas features the Blue Hole which is home to muskies year-round but is protected by a set of special regulations. With a 50-inch minimum and plenty of walleye as a forage base Rock Island and subsequently Center Hill Lake is a serious contender for monster sized Tennessee muskie.

 

The Rock Island are and its channel feeding into Center Hill Lake can vary regarding current greatly. When heavy current is present Rock Island muskies are readily found holding tight to shore line cover and structure, but when current lets up patterning becomes a bit trickier. When the water is slack walleyes and other muskie forage will spread out and stratify in the water column making trolling a useful tool for tackling these Tennessee muskies.  Large presentations and magnum musky crank baits trolled in the main channel and into the main basin of Center Hill Lake can lead to some rather large muskies.

 

When current is present and conditions are prime Rock Island and Center Hill muskies show a preference towards larger casting presentations. Manta Hang 10 glide baits and Pounder Bulldawgs cast along the sheer rocky shores can coax monster muskies into striking. However, keep in mind that heavy current and rocky ledges can lead to snags when throwing such large muskie presentations.

 

Rock Island and Center Hill Muskies tend to be dialed in on walleye for the majority of the year. Having general grasp on the seasonality of the walleyes that call these waters their home is highly recommend. It should be noted that muskies that prey mainly on walleyes make numerous drastic depth changes throughout the day, so a keen eye should be paid to your electronics.

 

While the above Tennessee musky lakes are some of the prime considerations a few bodies of water have small populations of trophy class fish that are accessible to anglers. Dale Hollow Lake, Douglas Lake and some smaller tributaries have musky populations. While Dale Hallow Musky Fishing can feel like looking for a needle in a hay stack the results can be staggering. Douglas Lake also has a limited population introduced via flooding and native populations in the rivers that feed this mega sized reservoir.  It should be noted that both Dale Hallow muskies and Douglas Lake muskies are far and few between and are a challenge not for the faint of heart, but the results in your net can be staggering.

 

Steven Paul Tennessee Musky Guide

 

 

Tennessee Musky Lakes : Where to Catch Musky Tennessee

Tennessee-Musky-Lakes.jpg
bottom of page