Fishing Reports

Norris Lake fishing reports, Fishing information, Bait, Lake Conditions, water temperature.


Fishing Report updated Thursday Mornings

24 April 2013


The water elevation on 24 April was 1021.7-feet, which is 5.1-feet higher than it was last Wednesday. The water level is predicted to rise 2.4-inches by midnight, Friday, 26 April. The inflow is 7,010 cfs. Morning surface temperatures are fairly consistent, lake wide. Morning temperatures in the channels of the Powell and Clinch arms have been 59 to 61 degrees, rising to as high as 62 degrees in the afternoon on cloudy days. Sunny days have seen the surface a degree or two warmer. Some protected coves where there is more color have seen 65 degree surface temperatures. The channel color is clear. Stream inflows where there were heavier thunderstorms are getting some color.
Moon phase: The full moon will be Friday, April 26th.

To view photos and Google maps of all access areas on the reservoir,
go to
For the Norris lake elevation, inflow rates, and generation times, go to http://



The reservoir is high, with water flooding into shoreline vegetation. But the water temperature remains lower than usual for the end of April. The sudden rise of 5-feet over the past few days has seen some bass and crappie start to move into the shallows and vegetation, but many remain deep. A pattern has been hard to nail down. As the fish become used to the higher water and available vegetation for cover, expect more to move into the shallows in coming days.

BLUEGILL and REDEAR (SHELLCRACKER): Bluegill good. Shellcracker are slow. Bluegill are hitting crickets and mealworms at 25 to 35-feet close to the bottom in the coves.

CRAPPIE: Moderate in lower end creek hollows, good far upstream in the river headwaters. 3 to 20-feet. Shallow crappie are in the brush at less than 10-feet, bottom depth, in the coves and creek hollows.

LARGEMOUTH BASS: Moderate, improving. Shallow and close to the shore near brush, especially in large coves. 200 series Bandit crankbaits, Norman Little N plugs, Rat’l Traps, Shaky Head rigs, and pig’n jigs. Some have hit soft jerk baits near brush in the coves. Surface to 5-feet in the morning; 10 to 15-feet at mid-day.

SMALLMOUTH BASS: Moderate. On the broken rock, moderately sloped banks in the mornings, moving to more gently sloped points by midday, but still on chunk rock and near gravel. Transition zones from boulders to white gravel points, as well as shelves on clay/gravel banks have been good. Transition zones on points have been the best if not far from spawning areas on points.

*REGULATION CHANGE FOR SMALLMOUTH BASS: The regulation changed on October 16th. It now allows five smallmouth with a minimum length limit of 18-inches. This regulation remains in effect until June 1st.

SPOTTED BASS: Moderate on Powell, Fair on Clinch. On rocky shorelines in the larger creek hollows. Small, crawfish pattern crankbaits and pig’n jigs along the shorelines where there are big boulders and plenty of gravel to boulder transition zones.

STRIPED BASS: Good. (*See regulation change, below, effective Nov. 1st.) Surface to 20-feet deep in the channels. These fish are moving upstream in their seasonal pattern, and are in the headwaters of the river arms and in the head of the larger creeks. Where there are baitfish in the creeks, striped bass have been caught from the surface to less than 10-feet deep, on drifted shiners or small shad and alewife.

*REGULATION REMINDER FOR STRIPED BASS: April 1 – October 31, 2 per day, 15-inch minimum length limit.

WALLEYE Slow. The river run walleye have already spawned and are moving toward the main body of the reservoir. Lower end walleye are on the broken rock banks at less than 15-feet deep, near big, old timber, and on red clay/gravel shorelines. *******************************************************************************************************************




Bluegill good. Shellcrackers moderate.

Surface (on popping bugs or small topwater plugs) to 15 to 20-feet deep for bluegill whether suspended in cover or on the bottom. Shellcracker catches improved as the fish moved into water from 5 to 15-feet deep.

Look for larger bluegills deep on steeper, rocky, shady banks. Crickets or mealworms have been best for bluegill, regardless of depth. 

For bluegill and shellcracker, use redworms, meal worms, crickets, or small minnows fished with no float, but tightlined or cast to shady, rocky banks and dragged slowly across the bottom. Popping bugs are still taking nice bluegill at dawn near rocky banks.




Main channel brush on the upper end is best (above Points 30 and 15), where the water is cooler. Clear water and sunny days restricted catches to night and early morning. The upper river arm temperatures are in the low 60’s. In those locations, the cooler water will see crappie at shallower depths at dawn. Use tuffy minnows, popeye hair jigs, or trout/crappie magnet lures tightlined to various depths until the crappie are located.

Best on cloudy days and in stained areas, but still relatively slow during daylight hours.

Good lures: small doll flies, mini tube jigs (red/white, blue/white) and 1/32 ounce hair or feather jigs tipped with minnows, Trout Magnets in a variety of colors. Try the upper reaches of Davis Creek, Big Creek, Cove Creek (Vasper Hollow), Lost Creek, and Sycamore Creek. Try main channel brush in the upper sections above Point 31 (Clinch side) and above Point 15 (Powell side).



Moderate. Good at dawn.

Surface (at dawn) to 15 to 20-feet during the day. Very close to rocky shorelines with timber, especially in the rear of the coves and creeks. Where small baitfish can be seen schooling, cast small doll flies, 1 ½ to 2-inch silver X-Raps, Yo-Zuris, or similar, slender jerk baits to match the size of the forage. Ripping retrieves when shallow, and steady, slow retrieves at 15-feet have caught fish. 

Dawn and evening surface action continues to be good on rocky banks in the coves on buzzbaits, small topwater plugs, and small doll flies. Crawfish pattern crankbaits and rubber-skirted jigs tipped with large crawfish trailers are working well. A variety of lures have been productive: Baby Brush Hogs, Gitzits, green pumpkin lizards, spinners, crankbaits, and ½ oz rubber skirted jigs.


SMALLMOUTH BASS                                                                                      

Moderate, improving.

Sunny days and clear water saw smallmouth move into the larger boulder-strewn shorelines, 15 to 20-feet deep, near transition zones and on points. The best catches of the week came on 1 ½ to 2-inch silver or white Yo-Zuri’s or X-Raps, ripped near the shoreline early and fished at 15-feet during the daytime. Good catches also came on 3/8 to ½ oz rubber skirted jigs tipped with large craw trailers. Pumpkin and watermelon colors worked well when fished with a steady, slow retrieve at about the 15-foot depth off the rocky, moderate to steeply sloped shorelines. Some have hit small topwater plugs (Zara Pups, Pop’R’s, Tiny Torpedoes), X-Raps, buzzbaits, or small hair jigs cast into schools of mid-channel baitfish. The larger topwater plugs have not produced. In mid-channel, hair jigs, allowed to drop to about 15-feet below surface baitfish schools, have taken smallmouth. The catches have been better during drawdown periods. Other lures which have produced: crawfish imitation colors, 3/8 oz hair jig with trailer; or popeye jigs, tipped with a minnow, and Carolina-rigged plastic lizards. Large, broken rock points, rocky, main channel shorelines, and the sides of mid-channel humps are holding smallmouth, but surface feeding smallmouth are being seen in mid-channel, scattered over the reservoir.

Other effective lures: Flukes, Senkos, leadhead jigs with baby bass or green-pumpkin colored grubs, rubber skirted football-head or shaky-head jigs with rubber skirts in brown/black/orange combination colors.


*REGULATION  CHANGE FOR SMALLMOUTH BASS: The regulation changed on October 16th. It now allows five smallmouth with a minimum length limit of 18-inches.  




Good at dawn in the river headwaters. Hit’n miss elsewhere.

Striped bass have begun their fall run up the larger creek embayments and to the headwaters where the Powell and Clinch rivers enter the reservoir. Lower end catches can still be made if the striped bass schools are intercepted on their way up the creeks and river arm channels.

In the lake: generally 20 to 30-feet, but occasionally as deep as 50-feet, in the channels and across long points and over deep humps in the main channels of the river arms or large creek embayments. Look for baitfish schools and troll or tightline alewife or shad in those locations. Troll ½ to 1 oz bucktail jigs, umbrella rigs with trailers in pearl or chartreuse, or  live bait (gizzard shad or alewife) tightlined to the depth of the forage fish schools in mid-channel especially across the points and humps. Before using umbrella rigs, read the Fishing Regulations and the hook size/number restrictions which are in effect.

In the river arm headwaters and headwaters of the larger creek embayments: troll or drift large gizzard shad or alewife. Planer boards used in the shallows work well to keep the bait away from the boat.


REGULATION REMINDER FOR STRIPED BASS: April 1–October 31: 2 per day, 15 inch minimum length limit.  November 1–March 31: 1 per day, 36 inch minimum length limit.





25 to 30-feet, on the bottom or suspended in schools of alewife in mid-channel at that depth. Catches from the Mill Creek, Loyston Sea, Lost Creek, to Island F areas have slowed since last week. Cloudy days have seen walleye catches from as shallow as 25-feet on the humps in the Loyston Sea vicinity.

Vertical jigging doll flies or jigging spoons on the humps and secondary points during the daylight hours is taking walleye, but slower than in previous weeks.

If night fishing on the lower end of the lake: Anchor in 35-feet of water and use alewife or shad, snagged under lights and cast toward the shoreline. Jigging Mann O’Lures and Hopkins spoons at night, under lights, is also working. Daytime trolling with copper colored spinner/nightcrawler rigs or deep diving plugs (Thundersticks, Long A’s, Mod. 911 RedFins)  along the bottom at 25 to 30-feet are catching walleye.

While the number of walleye being caught is low, they’ve been of good size.



This fishing report brought to you by
Paul Shaw. Thank you, Paul.

The best time to fish Norris Lake:

Largemouth Bass - May and June. Use light tackle and fish deep.

Smallmouth Bass - April and May; January and February fishing live bait off points.

Crappie - Late April through May near fish attractors. 

Walleye - February and March in the headwaters. Sometimes at night in the summer trolling the lake.

Catfish - Spring through summer.

Striped Bass (rockfish) - April and May. Can be caught through the summer fishing live bait in open water.

Bluegill (bream)- Spring through fall.

For information about lake levels and water release schedules, call the toll-free TVA Lake Info line at 800-238-2264. Norris Lake is referred to as Lake 17.