16. Lake Barkley, Kentucky & Tennessee


One of two western Kentucky and Tennessee fisheries along the TVA that made the list, Barkley is the forgotten of the two lakes often when it comes to bass fishing but a lot of anglers we talked to, actually preferred Barkley over Kentucky because of the lack of pressure, quality black and white crappie and often better water color they find on the Cumberland River impoundment. 

Brush piles, stake beds, natural river stumps, chunk rock and deep creek channels give anglers lots of options for casting, vertical jigging, spider rigging, slip corking, pulling, trolling and even shooting docks here and there. There is a ton of cover in Barkley, maybe even more than Kentucky, which is why a lot of anglers prefer it. Numbers are coming back and it should be a hot lake again for the next several years. 

“Lake Barkley seems to have lower numbers than Kentucky Lake but a better average quality of fish,” said Tony Sheppard. “With less fishing pressure, Barkley always fishes shallower than Kentucky Lake as well. Most of the time you will have better water color over there.  It fishes more like a river where cuts and bays still play a role during the summer months.”