Fishing Tips With Nathan Mountain

June 13, 2007

This week, our local fishing pro Nathan Mountain talks about one of his favorite baits--the shaky head worm. Click on the above video link to view this week's fishing tip.

East Tennessee Fishing Report
(Courtesy: TWRA)


The water level is still holding steady with surface temperature up during the day. The water is a murky colored.

Bass are active late evening and early morning. Fish rocky banks, points and the flats with crank bait, jigs, jerk bait or Carolina lizard and niddle worm, 2 to 20 feet.

Bluegill can be found along old road beds, rocky banks, bridge piers, brush piles and bluffs. Use crickets, night crawlers, or a split tail jig at 3 to 12 feet.

Catfishing is good along creek beds, bluffs, rocky areas and the river channel.

Crappie are active at times, early morning troll creek and river channel with small crank bait, pink or orange color flies tipped with minnows 10 to 20 feet..

A few sauger were caught during the past week above Walters Bridge on up to Little Pigeon River with live minnow rooster tail jig fishing close to the bottom.


The water elevation is 1,017.8-feet, a drop of 11-inches since last week. The lake level is predicted to drop an additional 6-inches over the next two days.
Morning surface temperatures have been about 76 degrees, the temperature rising as high as 80 to 82 degrees by late afternoon. The lake is clear in all locations.

Night fishing, or fishing just before dawn has been best. Daytime fishing for most species has been slow. The water is very clear; sunlight penetration is sending fish deep, or tight to cover in mid-day.
STRIPED BASS have hit at dawn or at night. Some mid-day surface breaks have been seen, however. SMALLMOUTH BASS have dropped into deeper water, but some have been caught shallow at the break of day. LARGEMOUTH and SPOTTED BASS are hitting best at dawn and dusk. CRAPPIE are slow; daytime crappie have been caught very tight to cover. WALLEYE continue to be disappointingly slow to hit during daylight, with depths varying considerably. But those caught have been nice sized fish. Night fishing under lantern light is a bit better.

Fair at night, slow during daylight. No change in the pattern.
20 to 25 feet deep, on the bottom, for daytime trolling.
Spinner/nightcrawler rigs; Jet Lure/nightcrawler rigs trolled along the bottom and near the bank or on mid-lake humps if the depth is right.
For daylight trolling, target mud lines along the bank on windy days, or when boat traffic is high. Cast ShadRaps, Rogues or topwater plugs to flooded sycamores and other wood structure at night, or fish under lantern light with shad or alewife. Most night catches have come from those snagging shad or alewife and casting it beyond the lantern light, letting it drift down.
Broken, chunk-rock banks where wood structure is found, and adjacent to points. If you can find any sycamore trees which are standing in water, fish close to them.

5 feet in early morning, dropping deeper and tighter to cover as the day progresses.
Use medium tuffy minnows or 1-inch tube jigs or 1/32 oz or 1/64 oz popeye flies tightlined into the main channel brush/tree tops channel and hollows.
Lost Creek, Davis Creek, Vasper Hollow to Cove Lake Dam have been good areas. Mill Creek and Big Ridge Hollow vicinity had some nice catches even in mid-day in deep brush.

Surface to 20 feet.
Live shad or alewife driftlined or shallower on planer boards. Or tightline bait to depth where schooling shad and stripers are located.
Cove Creek, near Cove Norris, had good surface breaks at mid-day. Point 19 to Cunningham Cove had some surface action, but the fish appeared to be small. Lost Creek was slow.
1/2-ounce to 1-ounce white hair jigs or Slug-gos or Bass Assassins cast or trolled into shad schools where fish are feeding, or shad/alewife driftlined or tightlined at depth in mid-day. Night, early morning and the hour before sunset have been the best times.

Good at dawn.
Surface to 10 feet.
Near wood structure, shallow, whether on rocky main channels or in the hollows.
Spotted bass hit on rocky shorelines, to as deep as 10-feet. Jerk baits (Rapalas, and similar plugs), Bass Assassins, small plastic worms as well as topwater plugs continue to produce fish. At dawn, chrome Colorado blade spinners, 3/8 oz head, with yellow and white skirts took fish from 5 to 10 feet deep in hollows where there are downed trees nearby. In early mornings, cast topwater plugs or jerk baits such as Bass Assassins (and other similar lures) or Slider-type worms to brush, the base of flooded trees.
3/8-ounce pig 'n jigs with medium chunk trailers, and 2-inch Slider worms or 2-inch tube jigs worked well in cover on rockier, steeper banks.

Moderate during night hours or just before daylight; slow after sunrise.
Same pattern, except fish will be deeper during daylight.
5 to 20 feet on main channel rocky points and banks where there is some wood structure - treetops or brush- on a fairly steep slope especially near transition zones of flat gravel banks breaking to steeper rocky banks.
Mid-lake humps and dropoffs along the humps are giving up some fish on small jigs or hair flies.
5 to 10 feet at earliest light, on small pig'n jigs, suspending jerk baits (shad color) or spinners cast to broken rock, moderately sloped banks with wood structure (downed trees, mostly). Topwater plugs improved since last week, but only at the first break of day.
3/8 ounce brown-on-brown pig'n jigs or small brown or dark green Slider/Finesse worms are working well. If you're using a hair jig with trailer, use a slow retrieve along the bottom on dropoffs off rocky points which extend into the main channel.

Some spawning fish remain on the flats, at depths of about 5 feet, but the bulk of the larger fish are returning to deeper water, along steep, rocky banks. Most of the bluegill caught shallow are small.
Crickets fished on the bottom on the flats near cover (trees or brush) or popping bugs along rocky banks. For larger fish, tightline crickets, or cast them without bobber to the shady, steep, rocky banks near downed timber.
Drag crickets or wax worms along the bottom in the areas where bluegill are nesting. Nightcrawlers as bait are a poor second choice.


The water surface temperatures were in the low 80’s under the 421 Bridge. The lake has a good green color to it right now. The lake level at the dam, as of 7:00 p.m. Wednesday night, was 1,721.53 feet above sea level.

Bass fishing continues to be fairly slow. Topwater fishing with a buzzbait and poppers seem to be the most effective early in the mornings now with the hot days and a bluebird sky. The upper end of the lake from the 421 Bridge to the Virginia line seems to be where most of the action is early mornings. Smallmouth can be found along points, rocks, and humps in 10 to 25 feet of water. Small crankbaits, spoons, jigs, grubs, and other plastics seem to be doing the best during the day. The grubs seem to be best in the slime green color while root beer bandits, and pumpkinseed worms and pig–n-jigs seem a good choice as well. Root beer jigs seem to be working the best late in the evenings and at night. A Rattlin Rouge or Bomber Long “A” jerkbait has also taken a few good bass off long shallow points or around the boat docks. The only noticeable Largemouth bass action seems to be in the Big Jacobs Creek area or where there is any woody cover around points from Painter Creek up into Virginia.

Walleye fishing continues to be still slow. What fish have been caught are on mid-lake humps or around the islands below the 421 ramp early in the morning to mid-day. A few boats were observed trolling between the 421 Bridge and Painter Creek Marina however this week. Most anglers are trolling worm/spinner rigs and Rapalas. Fish are being found about 20-25 feet down in most places.

Crappie fishing has been fair. The best fish can be found in the creek channels and coves where brush or treetops are located. Most of these fish are being caught on live minnows in about 6-10 feet of water. Blue or Chartreuse jigs and flies have been somewhat successful. The hot spots lately have been in the back of Painter Creek and Big Jacobs Creek. Trout fishing continues to be fair.

Trout fishing has slowed down with the warmer temperatures. The trout that have been taken have been mostly rainbows in the lower portion of the lake off of Rooster Tails or Berkley Power Bait. A few Brown Trout have been caught closer to the 421 Boat Ramp.


Water surface temperatures have been in the low 80’s this week around noon of each day. The lake clarity is fairly clear now. The lake level at the dam as of 7:00 p.m. Wednesday night was 1,381.25 feet above sea level.

Bass fishing continues to be slow with the hot dry weather we are having. The only decent fishing is right at sunrise or late in the evenings. A few smallmouth are being caught shallow on cloudy days early in the mornings when they are feeding shallow, but most often they can be found off the rocky bluffs. The most successful anglers have been using spinnerbaits, plastic worms, lizards, or tubes, and some jerkbaits. Jerkbait action has been much slower than past weeks but continues to pick up a few largemouth around fallen trees or off long points. Spinnerbaits seem to be working best in brush or treetops. Green and white, chartreuse and white, or just white or green spinnerbait skirts with willow leaf blades are what most people seem to be throwing. Topwater lures have been real effective right at sunrise on these hot days. Plastics have been doing really well, especially on the Watauga side. The colors of choice for most on plastics have been root beer, watermelon, or pumpkinseed. Watermelon has been especially good for the tubes. The best success on the Watauga side with worms and lizards have been to fish tight to brush with Texas-rigged style.

Striper and hybrid action has been fair. Trolling shad continues to be the most successful way to pick up the best fish. Several anglers have been using boards lately with their trolling. Zara Spooks and white hair jigs have also been picking up a few early in the mornings. Several anglers have been noticed trolling right at the dam or at the Deer Lick area lately.

Crappie fishing has been good. The crappie seem to be really holding tight to down trees and submerged brush right now. Small jig heads with either a chartreuse or white grub or fly, or a jig head with just a minnow fished in about 6-8 feet of water around fallen or submerged treetops and brush have proved to be most successful. Both the Watauga side as well as the Holston end has good crappie fishing now.


The water level at the dam is about 740 ft. There are lots of sticks but, most of the big debris has been washed downstream. The surface temperatures are in the high 70’s to 80 degrees in the main part of the lake. The water is clear with a slight green tint and still some pollen laying on the surface.

The water is very warm already with temperatures in the high 70’s and lots of sun and heat predicted for the next couple days. This usually means fishing deeper and also looking for shady spots, where the water may be a little cooler. Night fishing is another option. The fish seem to prefer the dark of night when the water gets as warm as it is now. Watch the lunar schedule for peak times. Early morning and evening are the best times to beat the heat.

3 to 10 feet.
The bluegill are really hitting good right now, and crickets are one of the best baits for them. Around just about any fallen timber or brush piles you can find some bluegills, also around boat houses, but you may have to fish a little deeper to find the bigger ones. The best setup for bluegills is the slip bobber, because you can quickly adjust to the right depth and stay there.

5 to 20 feet.
The bass are still hitting but, have slowed somewhat due to the high water temperatures. The shaky head worm and the French fry worm in watermelon seed and baby bass colors are doing very well right now. Spinnerbaits in bright colors like white and chartreuse are also doing very good. Black and blue, or black and brown jig and pig is also a good choice right now. Rocky points and secondary points are a good place to start looking for some bigger bass to be waiting to ambush a spinnerbait or crankbait or whatever you decide to throw at them.

5 to 25 feet Smallmouth are hitting fairly well just about all the same type places you find the largemouth. Minnows are working pretty well at the steam plant in the churning water up next to the plant. Also, try the shallow flats with stumps and rocks. Don’t forget to try the shallow humps that are next to deep water. Crankbaits and spinnerbaits are top choices along with small crawdad imitating jigs in crawdad colors, in the 3/8 to 1/2 oz. size.

3 to 10 feet.
The crappie seem to be slowing way down. There are still a few being caught up in Bull Run Creek and a few other creeks, but they are getting harder to catch. Try floats with minnows or little jigs tipped with minnows. Downed timber and brush still seem to be holding a few.

5 to 15 feet
It looks like the muskys have gone on the search for cooler water. There have been hardly any sightings at the steam plant for a little while now. And, not many musky anglers around either. Now is the time to get that musky gear back in shape for the next go around. Get those hooks sharpened and get those rods and reels tuned up. Replace some of those musky baits because those muskys are rough on baits and equipment.

4 to 10 feet.
Some nice catfish have moved into the steam plant and are hitting on cut bait shad. Tear the heads off and put the bodies on your hook with a little bit of weight, cast it out into the rushing water at the steam plant and hang on.


The water level at the dam is about 813.0 ft. The lake is clear with a slight green tint. Surface temperatures have risen and are averaging in the high 70’s to 80 degrees. The next couple days are expected hot and dry which will raise the water temperature on up into the 80’s.

Fishing seems to be a little slow right now, but is expected to improve. The little bass are hitting plastic worms and jig and pig fairly well. The bluegills are hitting crickets pretty good. The catfish are hitting worms, chicken livers, cut bait, live bluegill, hot dogs soaked in garlic, and shrimp. The crappie have slowed way down along with the striped bass. The walleye and sauger are hitting fairly well but, mostly at night. Early morning or evening are good times to beat the heat and try to catch a mess of fish to eat.

5 to 25 feet.
The crappie bite has slowed way down, but you can still catch a few here and there. You may have to fish a little deeper to find any keeper crappie. Crappie seem to like the water to be a little cooler, and are probably returning to deeper, cooler water until the surface temperatures come back to more comfortable levels, which will probably be about the time fall rolls back around.

3 to 12 feet.
Bass have slowed down a bit but, the shaky head is doing very well right now. Crankbaits and spinnerbaits are still doing fairly well right now. Jig and pig in crawdad colors is doing fairly well also. Plastic lizards and worms in watermelon seed and green pumpkin colors are top choices right now. You may have to fish a little deeper right now because of the very warm surface temperatures. Shady points and shady banks are a good place to start. Look for cooler water with some structure, and don’t be afraid to fish deep. Night fishing is the ticket right now.

5 to 12 feet.
Smallmouth are starting to become more active around the rocky points and also on the rocky banks, and around the submerged timber. Crankbaits seem to be the bait of choice right now for some good smallmouth. 3/8 to 1/2 oz. jigs in watermelon color are a good choice right now. Shad raps painted in crawdad colors seem to be taking quite a few nice sized smallmouth.

12 to 20 feet.
The walleye have started to bite, but have not fully moved in yet. Nightcrawler harnesses are starting to take a few here and there, but they are still scattered. They should start to school up pretty soon, which makes them easier to locate and catch. Remember, only 1 walleye may be 24” or larger. The rest have to be less than 24” but over 15”.

3 to 20 feet.
The bluegill are hitting good right now, nightcrawlers and crickets are two good baits to try for some of these scrappy little pan fish. And, just about anywhere you find some downed timber or brush, you can find some bluegill. They also seem to be drawn to shady places where the water tends to be little cooler, like boat houses and bridges.

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