For family fishing fun, especially for youngsters and the elderly who require easy access, it’s hard to beat one of the 15 TWRA-managed lakes scattered across the state and open year-round.
The lakes are stocked with catfish and other popular species, and have fishing piers and docks from which to fish, along with accessible bank fishing.
The TWRA lakes are ideal for kids and casual anglers who want to catch a few bluegills, catfish or an occasional bass or crappie.
They provide a good break-in fishing experience that might get a youngster hooked on the sport for the future.
Most of the lakes have on-site shops where bait and tackle can be bought, and permits purchased. (Residents 13 and over must have a lake permit in addition to a fishing license. Holders of Sportsman and Lifetime License are exempt.)
Some of the lakes also have vending machines and sell soft drinks and snacks, with shaded picnic areas adjacent to the water. That’s important when fishing with kids; when they get hot, tired and thirsty, it’s time to take a break. Overdoing it can spoil the trip and sour the youngsters on going again.
Marrowbone Lake in Joelton is a typical TWRA lake. The 60-acre impoundment is open to fishing all week, year-round, from sun-up to sun-down. Marrowbone has a fishing pier, along with several fish attractors that can be fished from the bank. Its more remote coves can be fished only from a boat.
Like other TWRA fishing lakes Marrowbone does not allow the operation of gas-powered boats, only electric trolling motors. Gas-powered boats can be launched and fished from, but the motor cannot be used.
Boats can be rented at the bait shop. Paddles, seat cushions and life jackets are included. Renting an electric motor costs extra.
Youngsters are required to wear a life jacket any time the boat is moving, including trolling or drifting.
Another reminder: the TWRA lakes have a five-fish limit on catfish, whereas there is no state-wide limit for cats under 34 inches. The reason for the lake limit is to better spread the stocked catfish among the anglers; the lakes are not intended to fill a freezer but rather to allow more fishermen an opportunity to catch fish.
Marrowbone is stocked with rainbow trout in the winter. A trout license is required to fish for them.
In addition to Marrowbone, other Middle Tennessee TWRA lakes are Coy Gaither near Shelbyville, Laurel Hill near Lawrenceburg, and a chain of four Williamsport Lakes in Columbia. One of the Williamsport Lakes, Whippoorwill, is for juvenile fishing only, with one exception: an adult can fish the lake when accompanying an angler 16 and under.
Detailed information about the lakes, including directions and bait-shop phone numbers, is posted in the Tennessee Fishing Guide. Most of the lakes also have individual websites.
There is a TWRA fishing lake within driving distance of every Tennessean and suited for anglers of all ages and abilities.