Test your knowledge of Tennessee fish and fishing

What kind of fish did this young lady catch? If you said "white bass," you're correct. If you said "stripe," you're correct (although that's a common name that varies in other places). If you said, "striper," you'd be wrong. In common angling language in our area a "stripe" and a "striper" (with a "r") are two totally different fish. Test your fish and fishing knowledge with a few other questions. (Photo: Richard Simms)

How much do you know about fish and fishing in Tennessee?

A lot you say. Well let’s find out with a little test. (scroll down for answers)

  1. At what age are you required to have a fishing license in Tennessee?
  2. Can anyone fish in their county-of-residence without a license?
  3. What are the five species of Black Bass found in Tennessee waters?
  4. What is the minimum size limit on largemouth bass taken from Chickamauga Lake?
  5. How many sturgeon are anglers allowed to keep each day in Tennessee?
  6. What are the six species of trout found in Tennessee waters?
  7. How many hooks is a sport fisherman allowed to have on a single trotline?
  8. What species of turtle(s) can be legally taken in Tennessee?
  9. Is it legal to use bluegill as bait to catch catfish or bass in Tennessee?
  10. How big is Tennessee’s state record (a) largemouth bass, (b) smallmouth bass, (c) bluegill?


1) In Tennessee, you’re not required to buy a fishing license until you are 13 years old. Kids 13-15 must have a Junior Hunting & Fishing License which only costs $8.00. Once they turn 16 years old, they’re required to buy a regular adult license.

2) Many years ago an angler could use worms and fish in your county-of-residence for free. No more! Now, if don’t have regular fishing license, you’re required to buy a “County-of-Residence” license for $11.00. However this license does not allow you to fish with artificial lures or minnows.

3) The five species of black bass in Tennessee include the Largemouth, Smallmouth, Northern Spotted, Alabama Spotted and Coosa Bass (commonly known as Redeye). Alabama spotted bass are relatively new import to Tennessee found primarily in Parksville Lake. TWRA biologists believe they were illegally stocked there by anglers but they have flourished. Only recently did TWRA decide to distinguish between native Northern spotted bass and Alabama spotted bass in the record book. Most folks don't realize we have Coosa bass, also known as redeye. They’re found primarily in streams. I’ve caught them in the Little Sequatchie, and the Obed on the Cumberland Plateau. There is a species commonly known as the rockbass, but it’s actually more closely related to bluegill. White bass and striped bass are in a separate family (Serranidae), commonly known as Sea Bass... although several species live in freshwater.

4) The minimum size limit for keeping largemouth on Chickamauga Lake is 15-inches. The first size limit on Chickamauga bass was 14-inches, established in the year 2000 (when the first Florida-strain largemouth were stocked). The size limit on largemouth bass was raised to 15-inches in 2002. Biologists said the mere 1-inch difference actually protected an entire year-class of bass, allowing them to grow until they are closer to spawning age.

5) While sturgeon are being restored to Tennessee waters they are still completely protected. Any sturgeon captured must be returned to the water immediately and the catch should be reported to TWRA. See page 49 of the Tennessee Fishing Guide.

6) Based on the current list of state records, Tennessee anglers can catch rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, cutthroat trout, lake trout and ohrid trout. Only brook trout are actually native to Tennessee waters -- rainbows, browns and brook trout were stocked but they do reproduce naturally in many places. Lake trout and ohrid trout have been stocked in select waters.

7) If you have a Sport Fishing License, you’re allowed a maximum of 100 hooks on a trotline. Use more than 100 hooks, and you’re required to have a Commercial Fishing License. Sportfishing trotlines, limblines and jugs must be tagged and/or marked with the owner’s name and address, or TWRA identification number. Trotlines, limblines and jugs must be run at least once each day and are prohibited within 1,000 yards below any TVA or Corps of Engineers dam. Trotlines may not be set within 100 yards of the mouth of any river, creek or slough.

8) In Tennessee the only species of turtle you can legally catch/keep is the common snapping turtle. The limit is five per day with a minimum length of 12 inches. Common snapping turtles are often confused with alligator snapping turtles which are completely protected and typically only found in certain parts of West Tennessee. See page 49 of the Tennessee Fishing Guide.

9) Yes, an individual can legally use bluegill as bait in Tennessee provided they are legally taken (with rod & reel) from the body of water where you are fishing. You cannot transport live bluegill from one lake to another. Commercial bait dealers may sell bluegill less than 4-inches long but ONLY if they are taken from privately-owned lakes or ponds. Commercial bait dealers may not see bluegill taken from public waters.

10) The Tennessee State Record Largemouth weighed 15 lbs., 3 oz.. It was captured on Feb. 13, 2015 from Chickamauga Lake by Gabe Keen. The State Record Smallmouth weighed 11 lbs., 15 oz. and was caught in the world famous Dale Hollow Lake. It is also verified as the IGFA World Record smallmouth bass. Kentucky also claims the same fish as it's state/world record. D.L Hayes caught the fish (in 1955) very near the TN/KY border and it has never been clearly established which side of the border he was on. The State Record Bluegill is actually a tie between two 3-pounders, but both came from the Cumberland Plateau. One came from the lake on Falls Creek Falls State Park in 1977 -- the other from a Bledsoe County Farm Pond in 1987.

If you answered only four questions (or less) correctly, you need to go to your nearest bait & tackle shop and get a free 2019 Tennessee Fishing Guide... or find it online here.

If you answered 5-9 questions correctly, I wouldn’t be ashamed to sit in a boat with you.

If you say you answered all ten questions correctly (without looking it up), you're either (A) extremely well-versed in Tennessee fishing facts, or (B) you are a seasoned fisherman because there is a good chance you’re lying.