Family- Friendly Fishing

Tennessee’s rivers and lakes provide a wide variety of options for anglers. For those looking for a family friendly introduction, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has developed a series of fisheries specifically designed to provide a good environment for children to learn about fishing.

The TWRA’s 18 Family Fishing Lakes provide a series of small- to medium sized lakes with picnic areas, boat rentals and easy access to bank and dock fishing. In addition, most of the lakes have wheelchair-accessible fishing piers to allow as much access as possible for fishing and recreation.

“People can get out and enjoy these lakes that are well managed and stocked so more Tennesseans get out and enjoy the outdoors,” says Mike Bramlett, fisheries biologist with the TWRA. “If they try fishing the first time, we hope they’ll keep coming out to enjoy the waterways in Tennessee.”

Most of the lakes — which range in size from 27 acres to 560 acres — were built as soil conservation lakes and acquired by the state in the 1930s. To maintain a family-friendly atmosphere, the TRWA’s Family Fishing Lakes allow no alcohol, boats with inboard motors, water skiing or personal watercraft.

The majority of the Family Fishing Lakes were developed in middle and west Tennessee, where there are fewer major rivers and reservoirs. However, Coy Gaither/Bedford Lake near Shelbyville is less than two hours from Chattanooga.

Bramlett says there have been discussions about expanding the program into eastern Tennessee. “We would like to promote those lakes and perhaps increase the acreage in the future,” he says. “There’s been a decline in trips in recent years, and we are always looking to increase the usage at these lakes.”

Stay Legal

A daily permit is required to fish at the Family Fishing Lakes.

For more information on this program, visit twra/fish/pond/TWRAfamlake.html

Fishing Licenses go on sale

Tennessee fishing licenses for 2013 go on sale Feb. 18, with most licenses available at any county clerk’s office and all TWRA regional offices. Licenses can also be obtained at many sporting goods, bait and tackle and hardware stores, and online at

Annual fishing licenses are valid through the end of February the following year, and all of the license fees are used to help the TWRA manage Tennessee’s wildlife resources.


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