There is no better time to bass fish in Jefferson County, TN than the month of April. This period will have you right in the heat of the pre-spawn action on both Douglas and Cherokee Lakes. While Douglas and Cherokee Lakes are two widely-different fisheries, both lakes offer excellent pre-spawn opportunities. Fish are currently feeding heavily in order to prepare for the rigors of the spawning season. In this article, we will discuss where to find and how to catch these Jefferson County pre-spawn bass!


Right now, Douglas Lake has a water temperature in the mid to upper 50’s and the fishing is really showing out. Largemouth bass can be found chasing baitfish on flats and in the backs of pockets. The key to locating productive areas lies entirely in locating these baitfish. High-percentage areas include the flats and pockets that have wind blowing straight into them and those that have deep water access nearby. However, anywhere that you see baitfish flipping on top or fish busting the surface are good areas to start as well. Once located, these fish can be caught in a variety of ways. Pretty much anything that mimics these baitfish can be effective, but key lures include Rat-L-Traps, umbrella rigs, jerkbaits, and the Z-MAN Chatterbait. This is some of the most fun you will have all year on Douglas Lake, as the fish are often concentrated in groups and readily feeding. The public launch at Dandridge will put you right in the middle of the best fishing.


Meanwhile on Cherokee Lake, the fish can be found in a variety of ways. The water temperature is in the low 50’s. You can utilize your electronics on the lower end of the lake to find smallmouth that are staging off of the long, tapering points. Locating the baitfish is still crucial, but you will find these using your electronics. On the points where you’ve located baitfish, you can target smallmouth using either a jerkbait, a small swimbait, or a Z-MAN finesse TRD. Because of the clear water on the lower end of Cherokee Lake, light Seaguar fluorocarbon line is crucial to maximize the efficiency of these finesse techniques. The jerkbait is most effective on 10 lb InvizX while 6-8 lb test works best for the small swimbait or finesse TRD. In the mid-to-upper end of the lake, the fish can be caught on a crankbait such as a Spro Little John or lipless crankbaits. Crankbaits can be fished on chunk rock on the upper end with good success, while lipless baits can be fished in the backs of pockets or on flats. Looking for the baitfish in these areas is still very important.


While these techniques are sure to put you in the heat of the pre-spawn action throughout most of April, you should also be prepared for the fish to constantly be on the move as we near May. The fish will begin to stage nearer to spawning grounds as the month moves on. Be sure to check back near the end of April for a Jefferson County spawn fishing update.

All of the equipment needed to enjoy the quality fishing in Jefferson County can be found at the Bass Pro Shops in Kodak! If you’d like further information on fishing in Jefferson County, feel free to contact me anytime- jsales@cn.edu  

About the Author: Hunter Sales is the Head Coach of the Carson-Newman University’s Eagle Anglers, a Bassmaster Opens pro angler, and a representative of the Bass Pro Shops in Kodak. Hunter has a lifetime of experience fishing Cherokee and Douglas Lakes, and amassed tournament winnings in excess of $10,000 in 2019 on these lakes.