Angler’s Paradise – In Search of Smallmouth Bass
Some places are preordained to be visited by anglers and their families. Edgar Evins State Park is one of those places. This beautiful state park is located on the shores of Center Hill Lake. The steep hilly highlands create an angling and sightseeing paradise just waiting to be explored. Day trips to other highland reservoirs in the area can be easily accomplished from this one central location.
Full kitchens and two level accommodations characterize the cabins. They are clean, roomy, efficient and economical. A large window opens up to a great view of the lake with a patio just outside. The park has a large onsite marina with restaurant and gift shop as well as seasonal campgrounds.
Many anglers like to visit the park to fish for smallmouth bass in Center Hill Lake. A long time resident of the area and smallmouth angler Ken Reece describes smallmouth bass as much more aggressive than the largemouth. He recommends fishing for them on the lower end of the lake. “I find more smallies on the lower end,” says Reece. “They like the clearer water. You will also find some Kentucky bass, but not as many largemouth.”
For anglers new to Center Hill Reece recommends choosing one of the many small creeks that feeds the lake and fishing it thoroughly. “Set your trolling motor down, start on one point and fish all the way to the back and out the next side. Try different baits all the way through.
“This technique will speed up the process of figuring out what is going on that day as far as whether they are on rocks, on mud, on gravel.” Once a pattern is developed, move on to other feeder creeks and fish the conditions that were found to be productive.
Photo: Ken Reece with a spinner bait smallmouth
His prospecting includes throwing lurs like Bandit crank baits on light line. “You just get more bites on lighter line. The action is better. You put a crankbait, like a Bandit, on 6-pound test line and it will dive 2- or 3-feet deeper than the same bait on 8- or 10-pound line. Given the water clarity, that extra depth may be the difference in a fish seeing it and coming up to get it.”
He adds, “You gotta’ be a patient fisherman and skilled fisherman to land fish on light line. You have to play them easy when you hook up, but you will get more bites on light line.”
His prospecting arsenal will includes a Buckeye Shad. “I like several rods rigged and laid out with different baits in different colors when trying to pattern the fish. The Buckeye Shad is a traditional favorite here on the highland lakes. It has a presentation that gives the appearance of an easy meal. You definitely want them in your tackle box. ”
As a third favorite option Reece will have a couple Zorro Aggravators rigged and ready. He has a tendency to start with spinner baits simply because he has caught so many bass on them. “I really like spinner baits, but don’t get stuck on one bait or color. Be willing to experiment with others and you will catch more in the end.”
Photo: Jim Duckworth with a smallmouth on Buckeye Shad
The Aggravator has double willow blades that produce a lot of flash and it comes in a variety of bass catching colors. Reece recommends a steady retrieve at various speeds to determine what the bass are looking for on any given day. Reece adds a 3/0 trailer hook to the existing hook to increase his hookup rate.
Other Fishing and Outdoor Opportunities
The fishing is great, but it is not the only thing the area has to offer. In addition to great smallmouth fishing, anglers will find many more species to fish for. Largemouth and Kentucky bass are among the favorites. The area also offers crappie and white bass fishing. A short drive to the Cumberland River provides the opportunity to catch record stripers.
Trout fishermen can enjoy the opportunities provided near the park too. Brown, rainbow and brook trout can all be taken in the area.
Non-anglers in the party will enjoy the abundant wildlife the area has to offer. The park itself boasts of three different owl species, numerous hawks and wintering bald eagles as well as the rare Cerulean Warbler, a summer resident of the park’s mixed hardwood forests.
Kayak and canoe enthusiasts can enjoy all of the above and more with an adventuresome paddle down the river below the dam. Deer and turkey are often spotted watering along the shore.
Walking trails wind through stands of Tulip Poplar, Oak, Hickory, Buckeye and Wild Cherry. Adventuresome visitors can climb the spiral staircase at the observation tower to gain a spectacular view of Center Hill Lake and the surrounding hillsides. Truth is, however, you don’t even need to climb the tower to view some stunning vistas.
Photo: Trout Fishing Opportunities
For more information, contact the park directly at Toll Free1-800-250-8619 or visit the park website at http://tnstateparks.com/parks/about/edgar-evins.