Cherokee is a fertile Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) reservoir containing 30,300 surface acres and 393 miles of shoreline. Fish densities are greater than in many other Tennessee reservoirs due to the high fertility level. There is a prolific forage base of threadfin shad, gizzard shad, and alewife. The primary game fish species are the three black bass species, striped bass, Cherokee bass, crappie, walleye, sauger, sunfish, white bass,flounder and catfish. The reservoir thermally stratifies in the summer and the warm oxygenated surface water can not mix with the cold water below. As the summer progresses, respiration by organisms and decay of detritus slowly depletes the cold water of oxygen. During most summers and in many locations, oxygen levels below 30 ft can become too low to support most fish species. This is especially true for mature striped bass and walleye which need cold, oxygenated water to survive. These fish seek out refuge areas until the surface water becomes cool enough in the fall to mix with the rest of the lake.
Striped bass - During the late fall and early spring many move upstream to the John Sevier Steam Plant. Year round, but especially in the summer when dissolved oxygen levels are low, the lower section of the reservoir from Macedonia Hollow to the dam is hard to beat. Live shad or large shiners with single hook, sinker, and greater than 15 lb. test monofilament is a well-used method. One-ounce white doll flies with 6-inch plastic trailer, Red Fins or Little Mac plugs, Sassy Shads on 1-oz lead head, Zara Spooks, white Slug-gos, and jigging spoons are also used. Largemouth bass - The highest catch occurs in March and April when the water warms and bass move to shallow water to spawn. Some popular tackle are Silver Buddies, Carolina-rigged plastic lizards, 4-inch plastic worms, crankbaits, Shad Raps, Rapalas, Rat-L-Traps, spinner baits, buzz baits, and many more. Smallmouth bass - They move to clay and gravel points in the spring. Fish live bait on the bottom, Carolina-rigged lizards, or cast firetiger or shad colored Shad Raps, Rapalas, and Rebels. Crappie - Fish in coves near fish attractors, brush piles, or downed trees in the early spring or late fall. Small minnows, plastic grubs, flies tipped with minnows, and small crankbaits work best. Walleye - The best season is from January through May when they concentrate upstream near the steam plant. Best caught with small flies tipped with minnows, Rooster Tail or June Bug spinners, plastic grubs, and hair doll flies.