Boone Lake in Tennessee

General Description

Boone is a 4,520-acre TVA reservoir located in upper East Tennessee. The dam, which was completed in 1952, is located on the South Fork of the Holston River. Major tributaries are the Watauga and South Fork of the Holston rivers which originate in North Carolina and Virginia, respectively.

Although Boone is relatively small, it is fertile enough to support impressive numbers of sport fish. The shoreline is highly developed by private landowners and little public land is available. 

Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Striped Bass, Hybrid Striped Bass, and catfish are the predominant game fish.  Since Boone can support high densities of fish, the TWRA has stocked Blue Catfish, Striped Bass, Hybrid Striped Bass, and Black Crappie during the past several years to enhance the fishery. 

Precautionary health advisories are issued by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for the consumption of catfish and carp, due to PCBs and Chlordane. The precautionary advisory is for children, women who might become pregnant, pregnant women, and nursing mothers.  They should not consume catfish or carp and all other persons should limit consumption of these species to one meal per month. No advisory is issued for other species.   


Reservoir defined as from dam upstream to Hwy. 390 Bridge at Bluff City on South Fork Holston arm and upstream to new Austin Springs Bridge on Watauga arm. 
  • Largemouth/Smallmouth Bass: 5 per day in combination
  • Largemouth Bass: 15 inch minimum length limit
  • Smallmouth Bass:  15 inch minimum length limit
  • Spotted Bass: 15 per day, no length limit
  • Crappie (all species): 15 per day in combination, 10 inch minimum length limit
  • Catfish (all species):  No creel limit for fish 34 inches and less in length; only one fish over 34 inches in length may be harvested per day. 
  • Striped Bass/Hybrid Striped Bass: 2 per day in combination, only one may be a Striped Bass (year round).
  • Striped Bass: 1 per day, 36 inch minimum length limit. 
  • Hybrid Striped Bass: 15 inch minimum length limit.
  • White Bass: 15 per day, no length limit.
  • Rock Bass: 20 per day, no length limit. 
  • Redear Sunfish: 20 per day, no length limit. 
  • Bluegill/Warmouth and other sunfishes: no creel or length limit.
  • Trout: 7 per day, no length limit

What you can catch

Black Bass

Largemouth and Smallmouth bass are by far the most numerous and sought-after game fish in the reservoir. Although largemouths make up the greatest percentage of TWRA’s black bass samples, nearly equal numbers of both species are caught by anglers. Spotted Bass also occur in the reservoir but are not as numerous as their counterparts.  However, the population seems to be increasing and expanding in the reservoir.  The largemouth and smallmouth daily creel limits are five in any combination, with a 15-inch minimum size limit.  For Spotted Bass, there is a 15-fish creel limit with no size limit.

Fishing Tips:

Largemouth Bass – Basic bass tackle works well for largemouth, including, Texas rigged and Carolina rigged plastics, spinnerbaits, and many crankbaits.  Largemouths concentrate on brush and rocks in the spring and then move out to deeper rocky and shaley areas in the summer and fall.  They will also concentrate in the back of creeks when the water is drawn down in the winter.

Smallmouth Bass – They can be found in large rocky and gravel areas in the spring and can be caught on jigs tipped with plastics, crankbaits, and finesse worms.  They can also be caught suspended in the winter months using jigs with minnow imitating lures.

Spotted Bass – Use similar techniques as smallmouth, but Spotted Bass do not typically suspend with smallmouth in the winter.          


Since Boone has an abundant supply of forage species and good fertility, it can support the addition of quality game fish such as Blue Catfish. Blue cats can exceed 100 pounds and have been stocked on a limited basis since 1992.  Only one catfish over 34 inches may be harvested per day. There is not a harvest limit for catfish under 34 inches.

Fishing Tips:

Fish the channel on either river arm with live shad or Bluegill.  Try using shrimp, stink bait, nightcrawlers, or cut bait around large rocks in the spring.


Crappie fishing has improved recently due to TWRA’s stocking efforts.  Black crappies are more abundant than White crappies in the reservoir.  The daily creel limit is 15 crappie with a minimum length limit of 10 inches.

Fishing Tips:

Fish minnows or jigs around brush in the main channel or coves.

Striped and Hybrid Striped Bass

The TWRA has stocked Striped Bass and Hybrid Striped Bass in Boone since 1972. Neither of these reproduces in the reservoir so the populations must be maintained by annual stocking. From April 1 to October 31, there is a two-fish creel limit in combination and from November 1 to March 31, there is also a two-fish creel limit but only one of those fish can be a Striped Bass.  A 15-inch minimum size limit is in place from April 1 to October 1, and a 36-inch minimum size limit is in place from November 1 through March 31 for Striped Bass.  Hybrid Striped Bass have a 15-inch minimum size limit in place, year-round.

Fishing Tips:

Spring: Use live bait at 10-20 feet to the South Holston headwaters and to Point 19 on the Watauga Arm; Summer: Live bait 10-20 feet deep and surface fishing with black-and-silver RedFin plugs above Davis Dock on the South Fork arm and above Devault Bridge on the Watauga arm;  Fall:  Same tactics as summer, but best on the South Fork Arm between Sportsman Dock and Rainbow Bridge;  Winter: Fish with live bait on clay points at 20-30 feet.

Common Lengths at Varying Ages (inches)

Age (years)










Length (Inches)

Largemouth Bass








Smallmouth Bass
















Blue Catfish








Striped Bass








  (*Boone  specific)

Contact Information

Region 4 Office: 423-587-7037
Toll-Free:  1-800-332-0900
E-mail the office

Interactive Map of Boone Lake
Fishing Regulations
Buy a license link
View the Weekly Fishing Forecast