Woods Reservoir in Tennessee
Woods Reservoir is a 3,660-acre impoundment located in south-central Tennessee with a major portion in Franklin County. The US Air Force and Arnold Engineering Development Center own and operate Woods Reservoir. Dam completion occurred in 1952. Full pool elevation is 960 feet-mean sea level and winter pool elevation is 957 feet-mean sea level.
Five public boat access sites are available for use with no fees. These sites include Morris Ferry Access (Monroe Floyd Road), Franklin County Access (Franklin Co. Park Road), Coffee County Access (Old Brick Church Road), AEDC Access (Pumping Station Road), and Dabbs Ford River Access (Prairie Plains Road).
Four public fishing piers and more bank fishing access are connected by a paved greenway path at the Morris Ferry Boat and Bank Fishing Access Site. This bank fishing access site includes a diversity of fishing habitats, including deepwater, an assortment of fish attractors, and a large area to fish. One other public fishing pier is available on Pumping Station Road on the north side of the pumping station.
Fish attractor data for Woods Reservoir is available for you to upload into your fishfinder or other GPS devices, or view in free or online mapping applications (link). Ten fish attractor sites are maintained on Woods Reservoir by TWRA.
The best fishing opportunities are for Largemouth Bass, Crappie, White Bass, Yellow Bass, and Channel Catfish.
- Largemouth/Smallmouth/Spotted Bass: 5 per day in combination.
- Largemouth / Spotted Bass: no length limit.
- Smallmouth Bass: 18 inch minimum 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.
- White Bass: 15 per day, no length limit.
- Yellow Bass: no creel or 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.
Largemouth Bass and Smallmouth Bass contribute to the Woods Reservoir black bass fishery. Largemouth Bass are more abundant and have always provided a consistently good fishery. Recent increases in aquatic vegetation will enhance fishing opportunities by providing a nursery habitat for black bass and fishing structure for anglers.
The creel limit for Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, and Spotted Bass is 5 per day in combination. There is no length limit for Largemouth Bass and Spotted Bass on Woods Reservoir. The size restriction for Smallmouth Bass is an 18-inch minimum length limit.
Popular and productive areas for Largemouth Bass when water temperatures range from 50 – 75° F, particularly during the spring, include the stump-lined edges of the river channel from Crownover Bluff upstream to Jail Island and Bradley Creek in the very upper section of Woods Reservoir. Points at the mouths of inlets on the lower reservoir section from Morris Ferry Bridge downstream to the dam are also productive. The confluence of Rollins Creek embayment to the main reservoir section, located just north of the dam, has historically been a very good location for catching big Largemouth Bass. Fish the areas surrounding both points at the mouth of this embayment.
When water temperatures exceed 75 °F during the summer, the fishing deeper structure is best such as along the old submerged roadbeds on the lower section of the lake. Several humps located between Elder Island and the pumping station are very good summer fishing spots.
Crappie fishing is the second most popular fishery and accounts for 30 percent of the targeted angler effort. Both White and Black Crappie are abundant in Woods Reservoir. A strong 2019 year-class of both species should provide good catches of harvestable crappie starting in the late summer and fall, 2021. Regulations for White and Black Crappies are 15 per day in combination and a 10-inch minimum length limit.
The stump-lined edges of the river channel in the upper reservoir are hot spots for crappie fishing during the spring. The section from Crownover Bluff upstream to Jail Island and Bradley Creek is very popular and productive. A structure located in the backs of inlets and embayments in the lower reservoir section downstream of Morris Ferry Bridge also provides good crappie catches during the spring. Light jigs, 1/8 ounce and less, tipped with minnows and soft plastics work well.
During the winter months, crappies are caught at depths from 20 – 30 feet along the main river channel from Morris Ferry Bridge downstream to the pumping station.
Crappie tend to orient to some type of underwater structure during each seasonal period. TWRA fish attractors which include stake beds are very popular fishing spots and are most productive for crappie from October through May in 6-12 feet of water.
White and Yellow Bass
White Bass and Yellow Bass are very abundant in Woods Reservoir. They concentrate in the upper reaches of the reservoir to spawn in early spring. The Elk River access site at Dabbs Ford Bridge is an excellent spot to fish either from the bank or by boat. If by boat, you can motor or paddle upstream and drift back downstream while fishing. Small jigs with either soft plastics or minnows work well. During the summer, both White Bass and Yellow Bass are frequently caught utilizing the same methods for crappie. They can also occasionally be caught while surface feeding in large schools during the summer. The creel limit for White Bass is 15 per day with no length limit. No creel limit or length limit applies to Yellow Bass.
Channel Catfish are very abundant in Woods Reservoir. The Tennessee Division of Environment and Conservation’s Water Pollution Control Division has issued an advisory not to eat catfish from Woods Reservoir due to PCB contamination. Many anglers enjoy catching and releasing them particularly due to the large size structure. Cut bait fished on the bottom around the flats of Elder Island near the Franklin County boat access site is a popular summer method and fishing area. Only one catfish greater than 34 inches in length may be harvested per day with no creel limit for catfish 34 inches and less.