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Fishing Guide on Norris Lake

Fishing Reports and Tips on how to catch Bluegill, Shellcracker, Crappie, Walleye, Largemouth & Smallmouth Bass

Norris Lake Fishing

Today it is quickly becoming one of the hottest lakes in the area for bass fishing. Especially, in the month of March. Of the sixty-plus fish found in Norris Lake catches can include Brown and Rainbow trout, striper bass, small and largemouth bass. Walleye, rockfish, lake perch, bluegill, catfish and crappie can also be found. The lake supports warm-water, cool-water as well as cold-water sport species.

The abundance of deep water coves, pristine shoreline, numerous natural stone caves and depth of Norris Lake make it perfect for recreational and sport fishing. The best times to enjoy the recreational fishing prospects in Norris Lake are the spring months of April, May and June.

How to get a Tennessee Fishing License

When you purchase a fishing license in the state of Tennessee, you're helping to protect, preserve and enhance the sport of fishing for today and for generations to come. Tennessee License fees help pay for fishery and hatchery management, habitat development and protection, endangered species programs, fishing and conservation education, lake maps and other publications, and many other valuable programs.

Tennessee Fishing licenses go on sale February 18 each year and are valid through the last day of February of the following year. You can purchase most fishing licenses from county clerks, sporting goods stores, hardware stores, boat docks, the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency web site and all TWRA regional offices.

Online: Log on to and click on the link, “Buy a license online.” Regular license fees plus a processing fee will be charged to your credit card. Processing fee is $3.00 if you print it, or $4.25 if it is mailed to you.

By phone: Call 1-888-814-8972. An authorization number will allow you to begin fishing or hunting the minute you hang up. Regular license fees plus a processing fee will be charged to your credit card. Processing fee is $6.25, or $7.50 if license needs to be mailed to you.

US mail: Send your name, address (including zip code), social security number, date of birth, physical features (height, weight, eye and hair color), and enclose the correct fee to: TWRA Sales Office, P.O. Box 41729, Nashville, TN 37204-1729.

See Tennessee Fishing Regulations for Norris Lake


Tips for catching fish

The larger specimens of smallmouth bass dropped to deeper water, but good catches of largemouth bass are coming from surface action and no deeper than 10- feet. Overall, action was slower than in previous weeks with the exception of an improvement in crappie catches. A regulation change is now in effect for smallmouth bass: Large/Smallmounth Bass: 5 Per day in combination, only one smallmounth bass June 1 through Oct 15th.


Be sure to download the Anglers Guide to Tennessee Fish. Also see TN Fishing Guide


Bluegill and Redear (Shellcracker)

Early morning bluegill are hitting popping bugs well on rocky banks and in the coves near wood. If you’re using live bait, fish with crickets and no float, and keep moving. Mid-day catches have come as deep as 20-feet on tightlined crickets on steep, broken rock banks. Crickets or mealworms are the best for bluegill, the bait tightlined or cast to steeper, broken rock banks where there is shade. For the larger ones, avoid using a float, but cast or tightline with sinkers to get the bait quickly to depth. Shellcracker catches are hit’n miss, in brush less than 10-feet deep in the Loyston area and in the back of Lost Creek. These fish are hitting redworms or nightcrawlers but are scattered.



Fair and improving on the lower end; moderate on the upper arms of the Powell and Clinch embayments. In the rear of larger creeks where there is brush on the channels and coves. 10 to 15-feet deep on the lower end, tight to brush and wood structure. Cooler water will bring them into shallower brush. The best crappie fishing does not occur until the water is in the 50’s, but some improvement is usually seen as the water cools toward that mark. Lost Creek and Mill Creek catches improved. The Clinch channel above Sycamore Creek and from Greenwelch ramp to Point 30 is still one of the better areas for crappie, right now.

Good lures: Tuffy minnows, small doll flies, mini tube jigs (red/white, blue/white) and 1/32 ounce hair or feather jigs tipped with minnows, Trout Magnets, or Slider grubs in a variety of colors.

Historically good locations to try: Powell River arm channel from Point 15 vicinity to Earl’s Hollow. Davis Creek from its headwaters to a half-mile below Powell Valley Marina. Doaks Creek. Big Creek from Indian River Marina to Campbell County Park. Cove Creek above Twin Cove Marina. Mill Creek, Big Ridge Hollow, Lost Creek above its junction with White Creek. Poor Land Creek. Bear Creek. Flint Creek. Sycamore Creek. The Clinch channel above Point 31.


LargeMouth & Spotted Bass

Good Topwater to 10-feet. Use Spinners, 3-inch plastic grubs (Twister type) or swimbaits (Yum, Yamamoto), and small Bandit or Norman crankbaits are catching some largemouth and spotted bass close to shoreline cover in the early morning hours. Plastic worms, or lizards fished with a slow drop have caught some largemouth. Top producers have been small, medium running crankbaits, white spinners, surface jerkbaits, grubs or swimbaits. Small, shallow or medium running crankbaits are taking some fish in the larger creek channels, and in the rear of the creek embayments on rocky banks. Varieties of watermelon, crawfish, or pumpkin colors are still working well. The Powell side, Davis Creek, and Cove Creek have produced the most spotted bass.


SmallMouth Bass

Larger smallmouth dropped to 25 to 30-feet on old timber and rock structure on the shorelines when the discharge through the dam was off, or at a minimum. Higher discharge periods saw smallmouth move to the tops of the humps and along points, and in shallower water down to 20-feet. Smaller smallmouth are hitting shallow in the early mornings, along broken rock shorelines. Cooler water is bringing smallmouth up to shallow water at dawn and dusk on steep, broken rock shorelines. Late evening has some scattered feeding on shallow baitfish on the surface. Tube jigs or swim baits are taking deep smallmouth off wood and/or rock structure. Trolled plugs, small jigging spoons, or small swimbaits fished deep on 25-foot deep shelf drop-offs, humps, and long points are taking larger smallmouth on some days. The water remains clear, with up to 10-feet of visibility. Good colors have been any shade of watermelon, pumpkin, or red (or red flake).


Striped Bass

Slow on the lower end but with a slight improvement in numbers caught; moderate farther upstream on the main channels, and on the upper half of larger creek embayments. Dawn is best. Lower end catches improved from the Dam to Point 9, but were still overall moderate, at best. Considerable searching may be required to keep them located from day to day. 20 to 30-feet in mid-channel on the river arms and large creek embayments. Surface feeding fish have been seen widely scattered across the reservoir in early mornings and late afternoons, mainly in the channels on the upper half of the lake where baitfish schools are most numerous.



Slow 30 to 35-feet for most locations on the lower third of the reservoir, whether bottom fishing on the humps, or if trolling plugs for walleye suspended in schools of baitfish. Trolling long, thin plugs which imitate the alewife shape has produced best. Troll at the 30 to 35-foot depth whether using downriggers or fast trolling to get to depth. Best results have come from Redfins, Model-A’s, Thundersticks, long billed Rebels, or equivalent plugs trolled through schools of alewife and along humps and ledges on the bottom as deep as 30-feet at mid-day. The quality of the fish caught has been very good, but numbers are low. Night jigging with spoons or Mann O’Lures is slow.


Be sure to check out the monthly updated: Norris Lake Fishing Report (also available from our Newsletter)


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