Sportsman’s Paradise Written By David Brashears Johnson City is the perfect base for your sportsman adventures If you’re an avid fisherman or hunter, you know that finding a great location that is hunter/fisherman friendly and offers a variety of good options to enjoy your favorite outdoor sports can be hard to find in the Eastern U.S. Johnson City should definitely be on your short list to consider. With its many great amenities and close proximity to some of the best hunting and fishing venues in the entire Southeast, our city is a perfect place to base your next excursion without having to sacrifice on comfort. Johnson City has a range of lakes, rivers, forests, and managed land in our backyard that should house whatever sporting opportunity you may be looking for. We also have a host of local guides and outfitters that will help you plan out the perfect trip and come home with the prize you desire. Here are a few examples of all the sportsman options available right here in Johnson City, TN. Fishing The Johnson City area is host to some beautiful and vast mountain lakes that are home to some of the most desired species of sports fish in the Southeast. These lakes are deep, clear water bodies that are fed by fresh water mountain springs—the perfect environment to house some challenging and rewarding fishing opportunities. Here are a few of the lakes within minutes of downtown Johnson City. Watauga Lake – With nearly 106 miles of shoreline and a great variety of shallows and deep-water pockets throughout the lake, Watauga Lake draws avid and professional anglers from around the world. There is a handicapped-accessible fishing pier at the Rat Branch access area as well. Watauga Lake is managed by TWRA and the USFS. There are eight public boat rams, seven marinas, and two USFS recreation areas on the lake. Below is a list of species available at Watauga; Rainbow and Lake Trout Smallmouth Bass Largemouth Bass Catfish Walleye Crappie Assorted pan fish South Holston Lake – A large reservoir lake, with 168 miles of shoreline (much of which has remained undeveloped), South Holston Lake offers some prime fishing opportunities for anglers of any skill level. The lake crosses state lines between Tennessee and Virginia, but there is a reciprocity agreement between the two states to recognize licensing, with the purchase of an annual license. Bald cypress plantings have been installed in several areas to create habitat for desired sport species, as well as spawning beds sport fish. Below is a list of species available at South Holston; Smallmouth bass Largemouth bass Rainbow trout Walleye Muskie Catfish Crappie White bass (no harvesting permitted) Assorted pan fish Boone Lake – Although much of Boone Lake has still been rendered inaccessible due to the TVA draw down for repairs, there are currently two boat ramps that have been opened for anglers. The fishing in Boone Lake has been a draw to Johnson City for years, and many locals prefer the lake for real sportsman opportunities. Anglers in search of more challenge and dense species populations should consider the current draw down and a prime opportunity. Below is a list of species available at Boone Lake; Smallmouth bass Largemouth bass Catfish Striped bass Cherokee (Hybrid) bass Crappie Assorted pan fish Fort Patrick Henry Lake – Fort Patrick Henry is a smaller reservoir that is fed from the Boone reservoir, although Fort Patrick Henry offers excellent fishing areas due to good spawning areas, cool water, and above average dissolved oxygen levels. There are two public boat rams and one commercial boat dock available on Forth Patrick Henry. Below is a list of species available at Fort Patrick Henry; Smallmouth bass Largemouth bass Striped bass Cherokee (Hybrid) bass Rainbow Trout Crappie Assorted pan fish River Fishing Options – If you’re more interested fly-fishing scene, Johnson City has several great mountain rivers to keep you coming back for more as well. Watauga River, South Holston River, and the many smaller backcountry rivers all offer a challenging venue with some of the most beautiful backdrops you’ll find anywhere. Below is a list of species available in the Northeast Tennessee rivers; Rainbow trout Brown trout Brook trout Local Guides and Outfitters If you want to have a no-nonsense fishing trip to Johnson City, be sure to take advantage of our many local fishing guides and outfitters in the area who know the prime fishing spots and the perfect lures to have a productive outing. Many of these professional guides can offer you any level of equipment, support, and guidance to match your needs. Mountain River Guides, South Holston River Company, and High Country Angler are just a few options to consider when looking for the perfect partner for your trip. If you want to plan and execute your own trip without any guides, you would still benefit from a trip to Mahoney’s Outfitters in Johnson City to get some great advice, reports, and the perfect equipment to make your trip legendary. The friendly local staff is a wealth of knowledge on the local fishing scene and is always eager to help visitors. Hunting For those looking to have a solid hunting experience, Johnson City is a prime location to stay while on your trip. There are several Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA) managed hunting areas to choose from and a thriving white tail deer population for you. The Cherokee National Forest covers approximately 650,000 acres across 10 East Tennessee Counties. The USDA Forest Service and the TWRA manage the land cooperatively and are the best resource to find out about hunting regulations and seasons to plan your trip. The game animals available for hunting in the Johnson City area is varied and offers several levels of difficulty and seasons to choose from. All within an easy day drive to the downtown area, with plenty of dining and entertainment options to celebrate at the end of your adventure. Below are some examples of the local game you can hunt; Wild turkey Ruffed grouse, White-tailed deer Black bear Wild boar Squirrel Raccoon Assorted small game For more information and to get the latest hunting reports, we suggest reaching out to the TWRA agents in the areas you are interested in hunting. They will be happy to help you plan your trip and guide you through licensing, regulations, seasons, and laws for hunting your favorite game in that particular area. So, if you are an outdoorsman looking for a great hunting or fishing encounter, you either already know about all that Johnson City, TN has to offer, or you are now curious about all that’s here. One thing we can say with a great deal of confidence, you will always find a friendly community of local sportsman that are ready to help you plan your trip. We’re proud to have so many outdoor resources in our region, and we look forward to sharing an adventure with you.