Lake Nottely is a 4,180-acre Tennessee Valley Authority reservoir located in Union County near Blairsville. The lake's relatively fertile water supports a diverse fish community.
Tennessee Valley Authority: ph. 423-751-2264
Prospects and Fishing Tips
Fish attractor data (updated Oct. 2014) for this reservoir is available for you to upload into your fishfinder or other GPS devices, or view in free online mapping applications. The data is compatible with many brands including Lowrance, Humminbird, Garmin and Magellan to name a few.
Largemouth bass are not as abundant as spotted bass in Lake Nottely. Within the lake, the highest numbers of largemouth bass occur in the upper reaches of the main lake and its associated coves. These areas provide the shallow water and downed trees that are preferred by largemouth bass. Recent bass surveys by DNR indicated that the average largemouth bass weighs around 1 1\2 lb.
Largemouth bass feed on a variety of organisms including small sunfish, crayfish and blueback herring. Live baits or artificial baits that imitate these natural food sources will be the key to success. During the winter, when bass are lethargic, slow-moving presentations like pig and jig combinations can produce big bass when worked around fallen trees and along creek channels. In general, bass will bite better in the afternoon when the water temperature reaches its daily peak.
Bass spawn in April and May in shallow water near visible structure. Shallow running lures, jerk baits and plastic lizards are effective during the spawning period when worked around visible structure. In the summer, largemouth bass retreat to deeper water in the 20 to 40-feet depth range. Drop shot and Carolina rigged soft plastics worked along points are a good choice for summer largemouths. The fall presents another set of challenges as bass transition from their deepwater summer hiding places in search of food to build their fat reserves for the winter ahead. Blueback herring are their primary food source during the fall months. Cover a lot of water in the major coves and around the dam during the early morning and evening with crankbaits, spinner baits and jerk baits that imitate blueback herring. During the day, fish the points with crankbaits and pig and jig combinations that imitate crayfish.
Largemouth bass typically prefer coves and small pockets in the upper half of the lake. Bass are especially attracted to visible cover such as trees, rocks and boathouses as well as to underwater creek channels and points. Higher numbers of largemouth bass occur in the backwater areas of Ivy Log Creek and Young Cane Creek as well as the small pockets that occur in the upper reaches of the lake, including the shallow cover that occurs from the Canal Lake Boat Ramp upstream to the Nottely River. The rocky face along Nottely Dam is a good secondary alternative.
Spotted bass are abundant in Lake Nottely and far outnumber largemouth bass. Small fish under 12-inches are plentiful but anglers will also catch a number of spots in the 2 lb range. There is no size limit on spotted bass in Lake Nottely, so anglers are encouraged to harvest small fish in hopes of reducing their numbers and promoting better growth in the spotted bass population.
During the winter months, spotted bass seem to take live baits more readily than artificial baits. Target visible structure on the main lake, the rip-rap face of the dam, and rocky points with either live herring or various pig’n jig combinations with a crayfish profile. The highest number of spots will be boated in April and May. Soft-bodied jerk baits, floating worms, tube worms and even spinner baits should be fished around visible structure such as downed trees and boat houses as well as on rocky banks on the lower half of the lake. During the summer and fall months, spotted bass will chase small blueback herring at the surface during the early morning. After mid-morning, spots will retreat to deeper water hideouts such as brushpiles, fish attractors, and rocky points. Drop shoting vertical structure with finesse worms or dragging Carolina-rigged worms across a rocky bottom are your best bait options this time of year.
Spotted bass are open water predators and will follow the schools of blueback herring throughout the year. The steep rocky points on the lower half of the lake and along the rocky face of the dam are prime habitats for spotted bass. During the winter, spotted bass will follow blueback herring along the dam. Drifting live herring or slowly working jerk baits along the dam are effective techniques for catching sluggish spotted bass during the winter time. Spotted bass move into shallow water in April and May to spawn. Fast moving, shallow running lures and jerk baits are very effective this time of year. Target fallen trees and other visible structures. In the summer and fall months, spotted bass typically seek deeper water on the steep, rocky shorelines on the lower lake. Also watch for surface feeding spotted bass during the early morning and evening in the vicinity of the dam. Spotted bass will concentrate on a number of DNR’s artificial structures placed around the lake. These structures are marked with a fish attractor buoy.
DNR annually stocks Lake Nottely with striped bass fingerlings. Survival of the young stockers from year-to-year determines the overall abundance of the striped bass population. Over the past three years, survival was better than average, which translates to more stripers for anglers to catch. This year, striped bass in the 2 to 8 lb range are abundant and will overshadow the number of trophy stripers that Lake Nottely is famous for producing.
Striped bass in Lake Nottely feed on blueback herring and gizzard shad. A good electronic fish finder coupled with an understanding of the seasonal movement patterns of these bait species will greatly increase your chances of catching a Nottely striper.
In the winter months, drifting live herring or gizzard shad at various depths near the dam is the most likely place to find stripers during the cold weather. Anglers may also want to pull live bait along the shoreline upstream of Canal Lake.
From late March through May, stripers will move into creek channels and even into the Nottely River channel. Casting flukes and bucktail jigs as well as trolling live herring behind planer boards are all effective methods for catching stripers during the spring.
In the summer, stripers retreat to deep water in search of cooler temperatures. As summer progresses, striped bass will migrate toward the dam. Once a school of stripers is located on the sonar, drop herring into the school with a vertical presentation or troll through the school at the appropriate depth using lead core line. By mid-October, stripers will return to the surface and feed on small, young herring. Look for surface feeding fish on the lower lake during low light conditions. During the day, return to downlining and trolling methods to catch suspended fish over deep water.
The biggest key to your success at catching striped bass is knowing where to fish and how deep to present your bait. Because striped bass roam the entire lake, good electronics and navionics equipment are essential tools for the striper angler.
In the winter months, striped bass are looking for warmer water. Stained water absorbs heat and so do rocks; therefore, search for wintertime stripers at the face of the dam and in the backs of coves.
From February to May, striped bass frequently cruise the shoreline as in search of herring. Look for feeding activity on the points and flats from the mouth of Ivy Log and Youngcane Creeks and continue trolling all the way to the back and even into the creek itself. You may be surprised to find huge stripers in just a few feet of water. Also look for stripers in other places such as Chastain Branch and in the Nottely River. Pulling fresh baits on a live line or behind planer boards is your best bet this time of year. If the wind is blowing, concentrate your efforts on windblown points in these same coves and along the main river channel in the upper half of the lake between the Deavertown boat ramp and Canal Lake Boat Ramp. Anglers can also fish for stripers from shore at Meeks Park when fish are migrating into the river from late-March to mid-May.
In the summer months, striped bass seek out deeper water on the lower end of the lake. You will often find them holding close to the bottom in 35 to 50-feet of water or suspended at this depth range over the river channel. Thanks to TVA’s deepwater oxygen injection system, stripers will hold near the system’s "bubble line" located near the dam in late-summer. Down lining and trolling live baits on lead core line are your best summer tactics.
Once the water cools down starts cooling down in October, stripers will feed on the surface on the lower half of the lake during low light conditions on small blueback herring. During the day, they will retreat to the deeper points in this same general area.
Anglers enjoy fishing for black crappie in Lake Nottely. This spring, anglers should catch plenty of crappie in the 8 to 10-inch size range.
Minnows and minnow-tipped jigs are the most effective baits for catching crappie. Small curly-tailed jigs or hair jigs are suitable alternatives for those who prefer fishing with artificial lures.
Crappie are most abundant from Reece Creek to Canal Lake but good numbers of crappie also occur in the backwater areas and pockets of the major coves like Ivy Log, Youngcane Creek, Jacks Creek and Chastain Branch. When the water begins to warm up in March, a good fish finder will help you locate crappie in about 15-feet of water in the creek channels and underneath boathouses. By April, crappie move into very shallow water to spawn around visible structure like downed trees. For the remainder of the year, crappie typically reside in deeper water near submerged structure, especially timber and among DNR’s fish attractors.
Fishable populations of bream, catfish and carp also occur in Lake Nottely. From May to September, anglers should target spawning beds on sandy bottoms near creek mouths and adjacent flats in 4 to 10-feet of water. Live earthworms, crickets or small jigs are effective bream baits. Shoreline fishing opportunities are also available at Meeks Park.
For catfish, target the rocky bottoms located in the upper half of the reservoir. Chicken liver, nightcrawlers, commercial baits and even marshmallows and hot dogs will catch catfish. During early spring, many channel catfish move far upstream into the Nottely River. Anglers should target the deeper holes of the river. Flathead catfish are also present in Lake Nottely. To target large flathead catfish, fish with live bream around large downed trees on rocky banks. Flathead seem to be more abundant upstream of Youngcane Creek.
Carp are plentiful in Lake Nottely and can be great fun to catch. Entice carp with prepared catfish baits, corn or dough balls in shoreline areas adjacent to the Jacks Creek boat ramp, Deavertown ramp and Canal Lake Boat Ramp. To increase your chances of catching carp, anglers should consider baiting a hole with one to two gallons of whole kernel corn a day or two before you plan to fish.
The WRD fisheries staff and U.S. Forest Service work together each year to place artificial fish attractors at selected cove sites around the lake. For information concerning attractor locations call the Wildlife Resources Division office at 770-535-5498.