East Tennessee Outdoors: Outdoor Report for Week of May 15, 2020

Published 11:09 am Friday, May 15, 2020

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Spring and early summer is usually the best time of the year for fishing in Northeast Tennessee, but let’s face it, this has been a very unusual year for everything.

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It feels like we had two weeks of spring in February, a week of summer in March, a week of winter in April and now, in the heart of spring, we are experiencing the coldest May on record according to local meteorologists.

If you have been out in the last couple of weeks, you can feel it. The weather is just wet and cold, but these factors have not had as much effect on hunting and fishing as you would have thought they would.

It looks like the weather is going to get back to a “normal” spring-type weather pattern during the rest of the month, and I am ready for it.

It appears that everything is really heating up on most East Tennessee fishing waters, and Tennessee hunters had a productive turkey season once again.

Also, with the Coronavirus hitting the entire nation this year, there has been a change in harvesting and tagging of your big game animal.


Tennessee hunters once again took to the field to harvest one of the top game birds in our state, the wild turkey. This year’s spring season will come to a close on May 17, 2020, and it looks like the statewide harvest will be close to 30,000 gobblers.

Though the harvest has not been tallied as of yet, expect Maury County to lead the state in harvested gobblers as it did last year.

The TWRA expects Dickson County and Greene County to have the second and third most harvested birds. All but six of the state’s 95 counties had a harvest of 100 gobblers or more last year and all Tennessee counties should be productive once again this year.

New Regulations:

The way hunters check-in their harvest is also changing this year. In response to the Covid-19 Virus, the TWRA is implementing a check-in system they call “TAG BEFORE YOU DRAG”.

According to the new program, hunters must tag their big game animals in the field and check them into TWRA prior to moving the animal.

The system works like this. When a hunter kills a big game animal, he/she must check in the animal using TWRA’s on the Go app to simply E-tag and report the harvest in the field in one step.

If you do not have a phone, you can attach to the animal one of the temporary transportations tags that are printed at the bottom of your license this year.

You then have until midnight on the same day of the harvest to check in the animal online at GoOutdoorsTennessee.com.

The TWRA is doing this to help combat the Covid-19 Virus and to help all hunters with social distancing. Basically, you do not have to get near anyone to check-in and tag your harvested animal.

Be sure to pick up a TWRA hunting guide for more details on this system.

River Fishing:

As usual, fishing on the South Holston and Watauga Rivers is going well this spring, but the TVA has had to generate more water to keep the lakes at a reasonable level.

To know when the TVA will be generating and releasing water into the tailwaters such as Watauga and South Holston, just call the TVA lake information line at 1-800-238-2264 and follow the prompts for information on a specific lake.

Local Lakes:

The fishing is still hot on South Holston and Watauga Lakes.

Bass are coming off the nests, and they are hungry. Fish points with drop-offs using crankbaits and some jerk baits.

Early morning fishing is usually better than fishing in the late evening. With the water temperature staying near 59 degrees, expect the fishing to stay productive.

We live in the greatest place in the world, in my opinion, and I can give you a hundred reasons why I think this.

They all start with the word outdoors. Get out and enjoy it for yourselves.