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Lake Information for Norris Lake


Norris Lake was the first reservoir to be constructed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). When the dam was completed in 1936, its closing impounded the Clinch and Powell Rivers, flooding 34,200-acres of mostly farmland, timber and small village sites. Norris Reservoir’s primary purposes are flood control and hydroelectric power production. TVA also uses Norris water to maintain minimum navigational channel depths on reservoirs farther downstream. Its multiple demands subject the reservoir to wide fluctuations in water elevation.

Annual water elevation fluctuations can exceed 45-feet. The fluctuation, coupled with detrimental effects of wave action, has severely eroded Norris’ 800-miles of shoreline, washing away fish habitat, topsoil and much of the associated nutrients needed to support aquatic life. Most of the nutrient supply comes from the inflow of the Clinch and Powell rivers. Since its beginning, Norris has experienced a progressively diminishing nutrient base and a corresponding reduction in its ability to support as many fish as in more fertile reservoirs.

During summer months, the lake is subject to vertical stratification. With rare exception, dissolved oxygen and water temperatures related to the stratification do not cause problems with respect to fish survival.

There is a precautionary advisory against the consumption of largemouth bass from the Clinch River portion of the reservoir due to mercury contamination.

Fishing Description: 

Spotted (Kentucky) bass make up a good percentage of the black bass population in Norris. Unlike largemouth and smallmouth, this species rarely reaches quality size in any East Tennessee reservoir. They also utilize the same habitat and compete with the more quality-sized smallmouth bass. As a result, anglers are encouraged to keep these fish for the table. Norris is noted for its winter smallmouth fishing. The best fishing is from November to April.

Walleye accounted for 16 percent of the total angling effort in 2005 and they are abundant in the reservoir. The greatest fishing pressure for this species is in the early spring during the annual spawning runs, but many are also caught throughout the reservoir during all seasons.

Fishing Tips, Tactics, How-To info: 

Spotted bass - Small white spinners, plastic grubs on leadhead jigs, doll flies, and crawfish crankbaits are excellent.

Largemouth bass - Crankbaits, top water lures, Flukes, Bass Assassins, spinners, and Carolina-rigged lizards all work during April, May, and early June.

Smallmouth bass - Good lures for Norris smallmouth are Silver Buddies, 1/4 oz (or smaller) doll flies, doll flies tipped with minnows, float-and-fly rigs, and large shiners. On windy days in late winter, cast small crankbaits to wind-swept, rocky banks. Early spring smallmouth spawn on gravel points which reach out into the main channels. Spinners or pig’n jigs fished at night on steep, boulder-strewn banks catch good smallmouth year-‘round.

Crappie - Quality angling is best in the back of major embayments such as Big Sycamore Creek, Davis Creek and Big Creek. Upper river sections above Point 15 (Powell R.) and Point 31 (Clinch R.) are also good. Fish brush piles or downed trees in the winter, early spring or late fall months. Small minnows, plastic grubs, flies tipped with minnows, and small crankbaits work best.

Walleye - During river runs, troll or jig with minnow-tipped doll flies, Sparkle Tails, AC Shiners, Rapalas, or Shad Raps. In late spring, night anglers cast crankbaits into flooded weeds. Trolling with Jet Lures tipped with night crawlers, spinner-and-night crawler rigs, or with deep running Long-Billed Rebels and Model 911 RedFins is popular by the end of May on the lower end. Night fishing with jigging spoons, alewife or shad accounts for good catches in the summer.

Largemouth Bass
Smallmouth Bass
Spotted Bass
Striped Bass
White Bass
Optional Information
Surface area: 
Norris Lake
Lake type: 

Businesses Located Nearby

Bait & Tackle

    Edgemoor Bait & Tackle
  • 530 Edgemoor Rd - Powell, TN
  • (865) 945-9981
    Buffalo Creek Outdoor Etc
  • 3915 Andersonville Hwy - Andersonville, TN
  • (865) 494-6461
    Smitty's Bait & Tackle
  • 9245 Highway 321 S - Lenoir City, TN
  • (865) 986-9514

Boat Rental

    Earl's Marine Center
  • 107 Little Senator Cir - Clinton, TN
  • (865) 494-6817

Vacation Rental

Bar and Restaurant

    Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
  • 11287 Parkside Dr - Knoxville, TN
  • (865) 675-9463

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