East Tennessee Outdoors… Bank fishing in the dark

Published 11:15 am Friday, July 17, 2020

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I really enjoy bank fishing at night. I guess this goes back to when I was a teenager and several of us sat on a lake bank, not caring if we slept or not, talking about the future and girls.

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Every now and then we would catch a fish and that only added to the excitement.

We were young, healthy, and had the entire world at our feet. We were going to change the world and catch fish as long as we were at some point in our life, and we may even marry a beautiful girl before it was over.

I was blessed enough to marry the beautiful girl, but I never did catch the fish as long as I was.

After I grew up and took on the many responsibilities of adulthood, I still fished from the bank for a variety of fish.

Bass, catfish, carp even bluegill became a joy to fish for from the bank, and though my fishing partner became my wife, the fishing only got better.

Little has changed in Tennessee today when it comes to fishing from the bank at night. There are still good fishing locations, and often you never know what you are going to catch.

Today bank anglers may catch trout, catfish, crappie, bass, and bluegill depending on the time of year, the water temperature, and your skills.

The TWRA has even caught on to the trend of bank fishing and has built fishing docks just for the bank anglers. Also, they have started stocking these areas better than the rest of the lake.

For example, when the TWRA starts its winter trout stocking of Watauga Lake, it usually stocks a large number of these fish from dock fishing areas such as Rat’s Branch.

When you fish these places, remember that the fish are usually near the shore in the spring and fall. During the summer the best times to fish are early morning and right after dark.

A few tips about fishing these areas is to fish near the water’s unique features, such as bait attractors and also, fish around wood cover, rocks or rocky areas.

The TWRA tie and submerge old Christmas trees to the fishing docks, so fishing straight down in front of the dock is a good method to fish.

Remember, fish are very sensitive to sounds and shadows while you are fishing. It is good to fish several feet back from the water’s edge instead of on the shoreline and move quietly, staying 20 to 30 feet away from the shoreline as you walk from one area to the other.

When you are bank fishing, start casting close and parallel to the bank and then work out (fan-casting) toward deeper water.

If you’re fishing for catfish, keep your bait near the bottom. If you are not getting any bites, switch your depth or bait.

When you are wearing polarized sunglasses, these can help you see fish submerged objects more clearly and protect your eyes from the terminal tackle.

The easiest places to bank fish after dark in this area are Black Bottom Park, City of Elizabethton; Roan Mountain State Park, Highway143, Roan Mountain; Sycamore Shoals State Park, Highway 321 Elizabethton; Watauga Lake, Rat Branch Access Area, Highway 67/321, Hampton; Watauga River, Blevins Bend, Watauga River off highway 91 at Elizabethton, on River Road and finally, Wilbur Lake Below Watauga Dam.

Bank fishing can be one of the most enjoyable ways of fishing found in East Tennessee.

Give it a try and let the sounds of the lake bring back all those memories you had of childhood.