The month of July in the Chattanooga area can offer some great fishing opportunities due to the versatility offered by Chickamauga Lake, which navigates through the city of Chattanooga.
Chickamauga Dam, which lays within the Chattanooga city limits, separates these two reservoirs. The Chickamauga Dam’s tailwaters (Nickajack headwaters) offer some of the best fishing in the Chattanooga area year around.
This is because of favorable characteristics such as cooler water in the summer, water current, preferred habitat (rip rap banks and a rocky bottom) and lots of available bait fish such as threadfin and gizzard shad. In July, one could anticipate catching catfish, bluegill, redear sunfish, spotted bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and striped bass as well as other species in this area.
The most popular baits depend on the species which are typically live bait such as shad for stripers and bass, worms or crickets for bluegill, cut fish bait for catfish and artificial baits that mimic shad or crayfish for most game fish.
This tailwater area also offers good boat access and also some of the best bank fishing opportunities. The best bank fishing area is adjacent to and below the Chickamauga Dam at the south end of the dam. A fishing pier is also located there. Areas downstream from this tailwater area also offer good fishing around laydowns and breaks in the river current where fish await food to be brought to them by the river current.
Chickamauga Reservoir, which is located above the Dam, offers some of the best bass fishing opportunities. The new state record largemouth bass was caught there in 2015 which weighed 15 lb., 3 oz. In July, most anglers targeting black bass (largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass) focus on deeper water structure such as humps, bluffs and deep woody structures.
Deep running lures such as crankbaits as well as jigs and plastic worms are good baits of choice. Don’t forget topwater fishing along vegetation lines and other structures especially early in the morning and late evening where shallow waters can also be productive.
Catfish in deep water holes in the main river channel are also productive for some large catfish. Additionally, bluegill can be caught around laydowns, bluffs and shady areas with a variety of baits.
As described, one can see how the Chattanooga area in July, or any other time of the year, has much to offer regarding fishing opportunities. Whether you choose to fish from a boat or the bank in the Chattanooga area is your choice; one thing for sure is that a host of fish species awaits you in some of the most productive waters in East Tennessee along the beautiful Tennessee River.