Tennessee Big Stick

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Fish of the Big South Fork National River

The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area preserves the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River and its tributaries in northeastern Tennessee and southeastern Kentucky. Encompassing 125,000 acres of the Cumberland Plateau, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area protects the free-flowing Big South Fork of the Cumberland River and its tributaries. The area boasts miles of scenic gorges and sandstone bluffs, is rich with natural and historic features and has been developed to provide visitors with a wide range of outdoor recreational activities.

Native channel catfish:

Native channel catfish can be found in the pools of the larger waters of the system and in the channels of the main river. Channel catfish generally weigh 2-4 pounds with a 10 pound catch considered a good catch.

Blue catfish (chucklehead):

Blue catfish can be found in the same areas as the channel catfish. Size, breeding, and feeding habits are similar to the channel catfish.

Flathead catfish (shovelhead):

Flathead catfish are widespread in major streams, rivers, and lakes throughout the system. Adults weighing more than 50 pounds are common.

Longear sunfish:

Longear sunfish are found throughout the system. They can reach a length of up to 9.5 inches and a weight of about 1.7 pounds. They prefer densely vegetated, shallow waters in lakes, ponds, and slow moving streams.

Muskellunge (muskie):

Muskie are found mainly on the Clear Fork River. They can grow 2-4 feet long and weigh over 20 pounds. They prefer to hide in weeds and floating plants where they wait for prey. They are generally solitary, but can form in small schools where prey is plentiful.

Rock bass (redeye):

Rock bass are found throughout the system. They can reach a length of up to 17 inches and a weight of about three pounds. They prefer clear, rocky, and vegetated stream pools and lake shores.

Smallmouth bass:

Smallmouth bass are widespread throughout the system. They can reach a length of around 27 inches and a weight of about 12 pounds. They prefer clear, shallow, rocky bottomed areas of lakes and rivers. They cannot tolerate pollution, so their presence is a sign of a healthy environment.

Largemouth bass:

Largemouth bass are found at the north end of the system and in Cumberland Lake. They are the largest of the black basses and can reach an overall length of 38 inches and a maximum weight of 22 pounds. They prefer warm, clear, calm water and are generally found in slow-moving streams, ponds, and lakes.

Striped bass:

Striped bass are found throughout the system. They can grow 3-5 feet in length and weigh as much as 100 pounds. They prefer the channel of the river or deep coves near the outlet of small streams. Trolling is another way to catch this fish.

White bass:

White bass are found in the large pools of the main river. They range in length from 10-15 inches and weight from 1-4 pounds. They normally stay near the surface during the day and near the bottom at night. They are easily frightened and require a great deal of patience to catch, but when caught will provide a good fight.

Spotted bass (Kentucky bass):

Spotted bass are widespread in the warmer, quieter spots of the system. They are part of the black bass family and can grow to about 25 inches and weigh up to 10 pounds. It closely resembles the smallmouth bass and is often mistaken for one. The spotted bass is the state fish of Kentucky.


Walleye are found in the deep pools of the river and lakes. It migrates to tributary streams in the winter and spring to lay eggs in sand or gravel bars. It is considered on of the tastiest freshwater fish and is usually caught at night due to its nocturnal feeding habit.

Brown trout:

Brown Trout are limited to tributary streams within the park and are not found in the Big South Fork River. It is considered a medium sized fish, growing from about two pounds in smaller streams and rivers to as much as 10-20 pounds in larger rivers and lakes. A high percentage of males die after spawning and less than 20% of the females survive spawning.

Rainbow trout:

Rainbow trout can be found at Pickett Lake. They range from 12-14 inches in length and weigh up to about four pounds. They are a cool to cold water fish and generally won't tolerate higher temperatures.

Crappie (white and black):

White and black crappie are found in Cumberland Lake. They both grow to about 21 inches and can weigh up to about five pounds. They prefer slower moving water, although the black crappie has more of a preference for clearer water than the white crappie does.

Jay Bryce is a community manger at iFished.com (http://www.ifished.com/). iFished.com has
and local information for over 40,000 fishing areas in the United States. Information includes current weather and forecasts, best times fishing charts, maps, local businesses,
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