Fishing Spots on the Ocoee: Where to Wet Your Line
There's a certain magic that happens when you cast your line into the water, your heart racing with anticipation, and the world just fades away as you wait for the tug of your line. Fishing can be more than just a hobby. It's a timeless activity that allows you to connect with nature, offering a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Ocoee, Tennessee, is no exception to the wonders of this captivating activity. Although it is known for its thrilling white water rapids and breathtaking views, it offers some of the best fishing experiences in the SouthEast. So grab your gear, put on your favorite fishing hat, and get ready to immerse yourself in the world of fishing along the picturesque Ocoee.
What Fish Inhabit the Ocoee:
The Ocoee River is home to a diverse variety of fish, making it a haven for all levels of anglers. The species you will find can vary depending on your location and the season, but these are some of the most common species you will encounter in your time on the Ocoee:
- Rainbow Trout: Rainbow trout in the Ocoee River can be caught year-round, but the best times may vary depending on the season. Early mornings and late evenings are generally productive, and spring and fall are prime seasons for rainbow trout fishing.
- Brown Trout: Brown trout in the Ocoee River can range in size, but it's not uncommon to catch specimens in the 12 to 20-inch range. Larger brown trout, often referred to as "trophy" trout, can also be found, making the Ocoee an appealing destination for novice and experienced anglers.
- Brook Trout: Brook trout are native to the Appalachian region, making the Ocoee River and its tributaries a prime location for their habitat. They are typically smaller than other trout species, with an average size ranging from 6 to 12 inches. However, larger catches can be found, especially in the Ocoee's colder and less-pressured waters.
- Smallmouth Bass: Smallmouth bass in the Ocoee River vary in size but often reach 12 to 18 inches or more. They prefer rocky and gravel-bottomed sections of the river, where they can find cover and prey on aquatic insects, crayfish, and small fish.
- Largemouth Bass: Largemouth bass typically prefer slower-moving or still waters, such as lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. However, they can also be found in certain sections of the Ocoe, especially in calmer, deeper pools and areas with sufficient cover, such as fallen trees, submerged logs, and aquatic vegetation.
- Bluegill and Sunfish: Bluegill are a popular target for anglers of all skill levels due to their abundance and willingness to bite. They are commonly caught using light tackle, such as a small fishing rod, light line, and a bobber. Bluegill fishing can be an excellent way to introduce beginners, including children, to the joys of fishing.
- Catfish: In the Ocoee River, you can primarily target two species of catfish: channel catfish and flathead catfish.
- Channel Catfish: Channel catfish are the more common species in the Ocoee River. They have a cylindrical body and are usually olive-brown to slate-blue in color. They have a distinctive forked tail fin and dark spots on their sides.
- Flathead Catfish: Flathead catfish are less common but can be found in deeper, slower-moving sections of the river. They have a flat, broad head and a mottled brown coloration. They are known for their large size and can grow to impressive weights.
Fishing Spots on the Ocoee:
Excellent fishing spots are easy to come by in this area; with numerous rivers and lakes, you are bound to be close to a flourishing fishing population. The river has a diverse nature, as each section is unique, so there is a spot for everyone to enjoy.
Parksville Lake, formed by the Ocoee Dam, is one of the most popular spots in the area due to its variety of fish and easy access by car. With a calmer atmosphere, you can enjoy fishing from the mossy banks or the comfort of a boat. A variety of species of fish flourish in this lake, including bass, bluegill, crappie, sunfish, and catfish. Every visitor gains easy access to the lake due to the many different entry points along the lake, including the boat ramp and various docks and piers. Although there are many to choose from, access points can be limited due to water levels, so be sure to ask local shop owners or fellow fishers to stay updated on the best conditions and times to visit.
Upper Ocoee River
The Upper Ocoee River is known for its exceptional fishing opportunities. This headwater section is characterized by its crystal-clear, fast-flowing waters, providing an ideal habitat for trout. Anglers are drawn to this remote and pristine environment, which offers a peaceful and secluded fishing experience. The Upper Ocoee is known for its thriving populations of rainbow trout, brook trout, and brown trout, making it a prime destination for trout enthusiasts. Fly fishing is particularly popular here due to the clear waters and abundant insect hatches, but spin fishing and bait fishing are also effective techniques. Access to the Upper Ocoee River is typically less developed, often requiring some hiking or off-road travel, which adds to the appeal for those seeking a tranquil and immersive fishing experience.
Middle Ocoee River
The Middle Ocoee River, situated within the scenic Ocoee River Gorge in Tennessee, is distinctively known for its exhilarating white-water rafting and kayaking activities. This section of the river is defined by its fast-moving and turbulent waters, characterized by challenging rapids. Unlike other sections of the Ocoee, the Middle Ocoee is less suitable for traditional fishing. While it's true that some fish, notably smallmouth bass, can be found in this section, fishing is not a primary activity due to the formidable water conditions. Access to the Middle Ocoee River can be demanding, as the primary focus here is on adventurous water sports like white-water rafting and kayaking. As such, anglers do not commonly frequent this section, and fishing is generally more popular in the Upper and Lower sections of the Ocoee River, which offer calmer and more accessible waters for angling.
Lower Ocoee River
The Lower Ocoee River, stretching downstream from the Middle Ocoee and flowing through the towns of Copperhill, Tennessee, and McCaysville, Georgia, offers a contrasting but equally captivating fishing experience. This section of the river provides a marked departure from the turbulent waters of the Middle Ocoee, featuring calmer flows interspersed with riffles and deeper pools. As a result, the Lower Ocoee offers an environment more conducive to angling, making it a favored destination among fishing enthusiasts.
Access to the Lower Ocoee is notably more accessible and developed compared to the Upper section, with well-established access points that facilitate entry to the river. This accessibility, combined with the favorable fishing conditions, makes the Lower Ocoee River a popular and approachable choice for those seeking a memorable fishing adventure in the picturesque setting of the Ocoee River region.
Safety and Regulations:
It's important to note that fishing regulations and catch limits can change for every area of the Ocoee, so check with local authorities or the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for up-to-date information. Fishing rules may include size and creel limits, so it is essential to familiarize yourself before you embark into the waters to ensure compliance.
In addition to your fishing gear, safety equipment is crucial, especially in changing water conditions. Wear a lifejacket when boating or wading due to fluctuating water levels and rapids caused by dam releases.
Fishing on the Ocoee provides a diverse and rewarding experience for all levels of anglers. Whether you're after a feisty bass or the slightly more tranquil trout, the Ocoee's beauty and peaceful atmosphere create the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable fishing trip. You'll find the world's worries fade away as you anticipate that first tug on your line. So grab your gear and let the Ocoee be the place where you can experience serenity and adventure at the same time. Happy Fishing!