Chattanooga:Hunting, fishing lure residents

Two men fish in the calm waters beneath a train bridge near the Chickamauga Dam lock.
Photo by Doug Strickland.

Hunting and fishing have a long history in the Chattanooga area, attracting many local residents and visitors to the numerous lakes, streams and wilderness areas throughout the region.

Fishing in general, and bass fishing in particular, remains popular as a relaxing pastime and as an outlet for competition. Organizations such as the Chattanooga Bass Association and the Chattanooga Bass Assassins and others give local anglers opportunities to compete in local tournaments as well as enjoy the company of fellow sportsmen.

The lakes and reservoirs throughout the Tennessee Valley Authority region offer a variety of habitats for different types of fishing, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency stocks many rivers and streams with bass, trout and other sporting species. In addition, the TWRA works to manage area waters to maintain a healthy and growing fishery for years to come.

For hunters, there are numerous options in the region. Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama all maintain wildlife management areas in the region and hold scheduled hunts for deer and small game in the late summer and fall.

New for 2013 in Tennessee is the TWRA’s mobile website, which allows the online purchase of hunting, fishing and boating licenses as well as the online reporting of all big-game harvesting.

A license is required to hunt and fish in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama, with various options and rules depending on what type of fish or game is being sought. It is always best to check first with the wildlife resources agency in the state where you are planning to fish or hunt.

Contact staff writer Jim Tanner at or 423-757-6478.

Nearby Tennessee hunting
CHEROKEE NATIONAL FOREST: It is located in Polk and Monroe counties, covering a combined 298,456 acres. Game species include Russian boar, black bear, white tail deer, turkey and grouse.

• Directions: From Chattanooga, take I-24 east to I-75 North to Tennessee Highway 60 (Exit 25) toward Cleveland/Dayton. Turn left onto TN-60 S/Georgetown Road NW, 25th St. NW. Continue on TN-60. S/25th St. NW. Left onto U.S. Highway 11/N Lee Hwy/N Ocoee St.

HIWASSEE WILDLIFE REFUGE: The Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge is in Meigs and Rhea counties, covering 1,000 acres on the Chickamauga Reservoir. Nontoxic shot approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is required for small-game hunting. Refuge is closed to all public use, including all forms of trespass, from Nov. 1 to the last day of February.

• Directions: From Highway 58 and Highway 60 near Georgetown, take 60 west; go 6.7 miles and turn right onto Old Highway 60. Go 0.7 mile and turn right onto Blythe Ferry Road. Go 0.4 mile and turn left onto Meigs County Road 163. Take the right fork to the parking area. From Highway 27 and Highway 60 in Dayton, take Highway 60 east. Go 8.3 miles and turn left onto Old Highway 60. Follow rest of directions as given above.

PRENTICE COOPER STATE FOREST: Prentice Cooper State Forest in Marion County covers about 27,000 acres. The state forest lies atop Suck Creek Mountain overlooking the Tennessee River Gorge. Each spring and fall, Prentice Cooper State Forest and Wildlife Management Area holds managed turkey and deer hunts for licensed and permitted hunters.

• Directions: On Highway 27 five miles east of Powell’s Crossroads.

Nearby Tennessee fishing
ELK RIVER: A great river for trout fishing less than a two-hour drive from Chattanooga.

• Directions: Take I-24 west to Monteagle. Take the Sewanee exit left on Highway 15 heading west. Connect to Highway 50 west in Winchester. About a 15-minute drive will take you to the public put-in below Tims Ford Dam.

LITTLE SEQUATCHIE RIVER: This river is stocked by the state with rainbow trout each year.

• Directions: I-24 west to the Highway 28 exit to Dunlap.

CHICKAMAUGA LAKE: Fish are abundant in the lake; primary species of sport fish include white crappie, bluegill, white bass, channel and blue catfish, largemouth bass and sauger.

• Directions: Take exit 4 from I-75 and go north on Highway 153 (Chickamauga Dam/Airport exit) to the Chickamauga Dam Exit.

HIWASSEE RIVER: The Hiwassee River is one of the Southeast’s best-kept fishing secrets. It is considered by area fishermen as the best dry-fly river in the Southeast.

• Directions: From Chattanooga, take I-75 north to Cleveland, exit at U.S. Highway 64E (Exit 20). Travel east on U.S. 64 to Highway 411N. Park is 6 miles north of Benton.

NICKAJACK RESERVOIR: This is an excellent fishery for smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, striped bass, white bass, panfish and catfish.

• Directions: Take I-24 west to Exit 161; look for signs.

NORTH CHICKAMAUGA CREEK: Hamilton County’s streams are stocked with rainbow trout in early spring. Although fishing can be good in the cooler season, most stocked trout are fished out by summer, with the exception of a few hold-over fish.

• Directions: North Chickamauga Creek Gorge is 15 miles north of Chattanooga. Via Highway 27, take the Thrasher Pike exit and turn left. Proceed about 1 mile to Dayton Pike and take a right. Proceed another mile to Montlake Road and take a left. Proceed 1.5 miles to the entrance, which will be on the left.

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