Douglas Reservoir - General Information
TWRA Region IV Office
3030 Wildlife Way Morristown, TN 37814
(423) 587-7037 or (800) 332-0900
Updated - June 2011
Douglas is a fertile, Tennessee Valley Authority reservoir with 555-miles of shoreline and a total surface area of 30,600-acres. The shoreline is primarily farmland and residential, with rolling hills. Douglas has a drainage basin of 4,541-square miles and is the largest of the tributary reservoirs. The reservoir can fluctuate 60-feet from the summer elevation of 1000-feet above sea level, to the winter elevation of 940-feet. It is not uncommon for the lake to rise as much as 15- to 20-feet in a day or two if heavy rains occur in the nearby Appalachians. However, summer levels can be relatively stable.
Thermal stratification occurs during the summer and low dissolved oxygen concentrations in the hypolimnion are common. This can make fishing tough until cooler fall weather arrives. Stratification can begin as early as April, and can be firmly in place by June or July. Once stratified, anglers should concentrate on fishing the lower end of the lake, and at depths of less than 10-feet and above the thermocline.
Largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, and catfish are the most popular game fish for Douglas anglers. Sauger, walleye, and white bass also provide excellent fishing opportunities when they make their late-winter spawning runs to the headwaters. Douglas Lake's game fish feed on an abundant supply of gizzard shad, bluegill, and various types of minnows. Anglers unfamiliar with the lake should find excellent fishing in the Flat, Muddy, McGuire, and Nina Creek embayments.
Largemouth bass and crappie spawn in the large shallow embayments and have historically produced very strong year classes. In most years, sauger and walleye successfully spawn upstream in the rivers during the early spring. Game fish are usually able to naturally sustain an excellent fishery in the lake, but some supplemental stocking has taken place.
FISH HABITAT ENHANCEMENT:
A variety of fish attractors have been constructed over the years in an attempt to concentrate fish for anglers. These include brush piles which are used by many species of game fish and stake beds that are primarily for concentrating crappie. These attractors work well, but must continually be refurbished to maintain their effectiveness.
Smartweed, a naturally occurring aquatic plant, has been transplanted in several areas in the attempt to provide long lasting habitat and nursery areas for young fish. Button bush and black willow trees are water loving, woody stem, plants that are abundant in shallow coves. These plants along with bald cypress trees have been transplanted in Douglas and provide excellent habitat for all game fish.
Shoreline seeding of grasses on bare banks during the winter draw-down has the potential for creating spawning habitat and cover for young fish. Inconsistent water levels have rendered any shoreline seeding projects impractical.
- Smallmouth bass stocking: 2009 - 10,400; 2006 - 2,500; 2005 - 7,650
Douglas has one of the best largemouth bass fisheries in east Tennessee due to excellent reproduction and outstanding growth rates. The largemouth fishery is in such excellent condition there has been no reason to impose a size limit. There is, however, a daily creel limit of five-fish in combination with smallmouth.
Because the smallmouth bass population is limited and has the potential of producing large fish, the TWRA implemented a one-fish, 20-inch minimum length limit in 2003. This regulation should help create a trophy-type fishery.
- White crappie stocking: 2009 - 182,520; 2008 - 36,090; 2007 - 15,000; 2005 - 15,000
Crappie are normally very abundant and extremely popular with Douglas anglers, but their numbers have declined somewhat during the past several years. There is a minimum size limit of 10-inches with a 15-fish daily creel. The TWRA has constructed a crappie rearing pond on Henderson Island to produce fingerlings for Douglas during years of poor natural reproduction.
WALLEYE and SAUGER:
- Sauger Stocking: 2009 - 53,432; 2008 - 60,134; 2007 - 27,883; 2006 - 27,883; 2005 - 54,000
Sauger and walleye provide a seasonal fishery and each spring, both species make spawning runs up the French Broad River. These fish are prized for their taste and very few legal sauger or walleye are released. Natural reproduction can normally maintain these fisheries, however, the TWRA closely monitors these populations and hatchery-reared fish are stocked if numbers become low.
A new regulation went into effect on March 1, 2008. It is a five-fish per day limit of walleye and sauger in any combination. There is no length limit on sauger, but only one may be 16-inches or longer. The minimum length limit remains at 15-inches for walleye.
White bass are a schooling fish that can provide some exciting fishing when they make spawning runs up the French Broad River in the late winter. They are a short-lived species (4-6 years), and the population can fluctuate greatly. There is a 15-fish daily creel limit with no size restriction.
Anglers can expect to find channel, blue, and flathead catfish in Douglas. Catfish feed more by taste than by sight and their natural foods include crayfish, worms, fish, insects, decaying animal matter, and mollusks. Spawning takes place when surface temperatures approach 75-degrees; rocky ledges and cavities are the preferred spawning habitat.
Only one 34-inch or longer catfish may be harvested per day. There is not a harvest limit for catfish under 34-inches.
Largemouth bass - March through June. Spinner baits in chartreuse or white and Carolina-rigged lizards are good. Other popular lures are Rattle Traps, DD-22's and electric red worms. Concentrations of largemouth bass have been observed in the creek channels after the water has been drawn down in the fall.
White bass - January through April. White bass make a spring spawning run to the headwaters of the reservoir. The Leadvale area is a good place to fish. White spinners (Rooster Tails), grubs and small flies are all effective. Good white bass fishing can be found on the lower end of the reservoir during the summer months. The lures listed for the early spring spawning run are also recommended for the summer.
Crappie - February through early May. Fishing points and brush is effective, but many crappie are caught trolling. Small flies (usually two per line) tipped with minnows (good colors are white, chartreuse, blue and green) and small tube jigs can be fished over brush and trolled. Small crank baits (chartreuse and orange) are also good trolling lures. Flat, Muddy and McGuire creeks would be good areas to look for crappie.
Sauger - January through April. Sauger make a spring spawning run to the headwaters of the reservoir. Good fishing takes place from Point 18 to Walters Bridge as fish move upstream. The most effective tactic is to bounce large red or orange flies off the bottom.