Melton Hill Reservoir
Melton Hill received it's name from a high knob located about two miles from the dam. High atop this hill resides a mapping station established in 1884 by the U.S. Coast Guard and Geodetic Survey.
The dam was completed in 1963 and stands 103 feet high. It stretches 1,020 feet across the Clinch River. The reservoir provides nearly 193 miles of shoreline and 5,470 acres of water surface for recreation. Melton Hill is the only dam in the tributary reservoir system with a navigation lock and is considered a run-of-river reservoir, meaning that water is passed through the reservoir without being stored long term. The water level fluctuates about four feet on a daily basis.
TWRA / TVA has documented 28 different species of fish on Melton Hill Lake.
Predominant fish species are musky, striped bass, hybrid striped bass, white crappie, largemouth bass, and skipjack herring.
Melton Hill is an extremely dynamic body of water with daily fluctuations in depth and temperature. These factors are controlled by the TVA's release schedules and water needs for hydro electric generation.
These release cycles can wreak havoc on musky fishing as they often cause sudden changes in musky locations. These daily fluctuations in water temperature and depth often lead to unusual patterns emerging. With Melton Hill Musky adhering to less than classic patterns combined with it's unique structure Melton Hill leaves most musky fisherman frustrated.
Melton Hill Musky fishermen are faced with 193 miles of shoreline and 5,470 acres of water surface area.
The reservoir stretches 56 miles up the Clinch from the dam to the base of Norris Dam giving Melton Hill musky seemingly endless options in forage, structure and cover to traverse.
Melton Hill undoubtedly has a multi-personality disorder often exhibiting river, lake and reservoir qualities simultaneously.
Melton Hill is located at 3230 Williams Bend Rd, Knoxville, TN
The Ojibwa First Nations tribe calls them Maashkinoozhe, while some remaining old timers still refer to them as Jacks. If you are located in the Northern US, the name is Muskie, while Southern regions shorted this even further to Musky. Regardless of native tongue or physical location, there is one name for the Muskellunge (or Esox Masquinongy) that nearly all anglers agree on: “the fish of ten thousand casts”.
Muskies have earned this dubious nickname by being notoriously difficult to catch. Often fisher folk spend hours upon hours, casting heavy over-sized lures, only to catch a glimpse of the allusive monster before it returns to the deep. Needless to say the pursuit of this particular creature can be maddening for even the most patient of angler.
Regardless of their reputation for disappointing fishermen far and wide, many anglers continue to add Musky to their “bucket list” regularly. These same folks are willing to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to travel to remote areas of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Canada in pursuit of this allusive trophy fish. Fortunately for many of us in East TN, we can leave our passports at home, because trophy-class Musky are now populating many rivers and waterways in our region. I was personally fortunate enough to land the current Tennessee State Record Musky in 2016 and have recently boated the longest documented fish at 55 inches. As a frequent guide of many local and out-of-town visitors, it can be said that East Tennessee holds not only quality fish but also a great quantity if you have all the right moves.
So what does it take to catch “the fish of ten thousand casts”?
If you are fortunate enough to luck into a Tennessee Musky, while targeting another species, then I would recommend purchasing a lottery ticket immediately as luck is on your side. Otherwise, Muskies are known to be unforgiving of poorly presented lure choices or more often wreak havoc on typical tackle. Therefore, a trip to the tackle store is the first step to opening the door for beginner Musky fishing. Musky fishing equipment is often highly specialized to hook up with these strong jawed and hard fighting creatures.
A recommending starting point is the purchase of a long, heavy-action rod, preferably 7’6” or greater in length. This will reduce the effort needed to cast some of the large baits, while simultaneously reducing the possibly of breakage. This pole coupled with a heavy duty bait casting reel, capable of holding a large amount of 80 pound braided line, are the most basic standards of the sport. It is important to note that a steel or fluorocarbon leader should be used at all times to prevent line cuts as Muskies have a mouth full of very sharp teeth.
Considering lures for Musky will be the most overwhelming task to complete. Most lures advertised to target this species range from 6 to 20 inches in length with varying weights. Beginner Musky anglers would be wise to choose something that requires little focus on presentation like a bladed bucktail. These lures are easy to manage, simply throw and retrieve, and have accounted for more catches than most other lures combined. A seemingly endless discussion could be had about color combinations but anyone seasoned musky angler will tell you that you just can’t go wrong with black and silver.
Another highly important feature of Musky fishing is an extra large net. Musky nets are the most crucial instrument for turning a hooked fish into a catch, as these fish are fierce fighters and require the extra landing leverage. Understandably, it is important to realize that beginners will face many challenges in acquiring all of the necessities for starting this journey, financially and physically, so make sure it’s a sustainable hobby prior to making such a great investment. This equipment with not only insure your success but will also secure the survival and safety of the species.
The big question left to answer is location. The most prominent area in East Tennessee for landing your trophy is Melton Hill Reservoir. This waterway has been stocked Muskies by the TWRA and has an excellent population of varying sized fish. Other waterways to consider are Norris, the Emory and Little Emory. Start your searches deep in the weed beds, break likes and cover, and always practice catch and release. Catching a fish of a lifetime takes a little preparation, equipment and planning, but is much closer to your door step than you ever thought.
Melton Hill Musky Fishing Charter
Melton Hill Musky Guide