What Kind of Fish Are in Douglas Lake? Your Complete Fishing Guide

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth bass, pictured above, and largemouth bass can be found in Douglas Lake in Tenn (photo by Steve Dally/stock.adobe.com)

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Prior to the Great Depression, the rivers in East Tennessee were wild and free. 

In the spring, they would frequently jump their banks, wreaking havoc on the region, destroying crops and claiming lives. 

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s mission was multi-purpose. 

In addition to creating a series of hydro-electric dams designed to provide hydroelectric power to the region and bringing modern conveniences and manufacturing to the region,TVA’s mission was to tame the wild rivers, greatly reduce the flooding and create a series of bodies of water that would change the face of East Tennessee. 

In that mission, the TVA succeeded. TVA’s lakes are incredibly popular with locals and tourists alike. They draw millions of recreational dollars from watersports and provide clean, efficient power to the region. 

Douglas Lake – created when the TVA built the Douglas Dam in less than a year during the height of World War II – has a 43-mile long reservoir fed by the French Broad and its tributaries, the Nolichucky and Pigeon Rivers.

White bass, in fact, spawn in late winter in the headwaters of the reservoir.

The lake is teeming with other wildlife from the waterfowl that rest on its waters to the deer and bears that explore its shorelines to the variety of fish that live within its waters. 

Douglas Lake is popular with anglers as it offers excellent fishing opportunities. The Douglas game fish feed on an abundant supply of insects, gizzard shad, bluegill and minnows.

Its many coves provide a natural habitat for a variety of species to thrive and it doesn’t take a local to know the best spots.

What kind of fish are in Douglas Lake?

At Douglas Lake, you can expect to find:

  • Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Bullhead
  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Minnow
  • Sauger
  • Shad
  • Shiner
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • Warmouth

An identification chart can be found here.

Where can you fish at Douglas Lake?

You can fish Douglas Lake from its many miles of shoreline.

If you’re camping on the lake or just finding an accessible spot from one of the many pull-offs or boat ramps surrounding the lake, you can have success if you’re willing to walk or hike to the popular spots.

It is preferable, however, to rent a watercraft or bring your own. By some standards, Douglas isn’t a gigantic lake, but the best habitats are frequently better accessible by boat.

The TVA draws down the lake water level after Labor Day, resulting in a shoreline that is ringed in some level of barren mud throughout the summer.

That means a lot of the best habitat is farther offshore than in a natural lake. There are several places that rent pontoons, bass boats, kayaks and other watercraft. Swann’s Marina is a popular choice for rentals. 

Douglas Lake in TN
Douglas Lake is located just a few miles from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (photo by HBW/shutterstock.com)

Do you need a fishing license to fish in TN?

Nearly everyone over the age of 12 must have a license to fish in Tennessee.

The good news? These licenses are easily obtainable online through the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency.

The bad news? There are a lot of different types of licenses for residents and non-residents. Take a few extra minutes to make sure you’re getting the right one.

Also, some of the fish in Douglas Lake come with size and number limits. Familiarize yourself with the types of fish you might catch and also any relevant regulations.

The TWRA offers an “Angler’s Guide to Tennessee Fish” free online to help you identify, say, a black bass from a smallmouth or white bass.

Download a copy to your mobile phone – do not count on being able to access the site from the water as you might not have service. You can also print the guide. Click here for Douglas Lake’s specific regulations. 

Read Also: Trout farm fishing: Where can you trout fish in Gatlinburg?

The largemouth bass population in Douglas Lake is among the best in East Tennessee (photo by Ryan/stock.adobe.com)

Where is the best place to find fish in Douglas Lake?

As experienced anglers know, finding fish depends on multiple factors including time, weather and the type of fish you’re targeting.

Douglas Lake is blessed with many coves and inlets for you to explore and try your luck. If you’d like a little more specific experience, consider hiring a guide who knows the lake and all the good areas to fish.

There have been efforts made to improve habitats including brush piles and stake beds constructed over the years that are inhabited by crappie and other varieties of the most popular game fish.

Smartweed, a naturally occurring plant, has also been transplanted in many areas to present a long-lasting environment and place for fish to thrive. Look for cyprus or black willow trees which also provide excellent habitats for game fish. 

Read Also: Douglas Lake: Fish, swim, boat only a few miles from Gatlinburg

What am I likely to catch? 

Douglas is home to many species of fish, but the concentrations of largemouth bass are among the best in East Tennessee.

Year-round for largemouth, the minimum length limit is 14 inches and the daily bag limit is five. The regulations are the same for smallmouth bass from mid-June until early March.

During smallmouth bass spawning season, which is typically early May to mid-June, fishing is catch and release only.

Sauger and walleye, known for their excellent taste, spawn upstream in the early Spring. Crappie, bluegill and flathead catfish are also plentiful in the lake. 

Have you been fishing in Douglas Lake? Let us know in the comments.

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John Gullion

John Gullion, Managing Editor at the Citizen Tribune, is a freelance contributor for TheSmokies.com LLC – the parent company of TheSmokies.com and HeyOrlando.com.

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