The Seven Great Lakes of The South …
Knoxville has always been thought of as an outdoor haven. It has been loved for being the gateway to the 520,000 acre playground that is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But, in the spring and summer all eyes and boats turn toward the sparkling blue of the enormous amount of water that flows through this emerald green Tennessee Valley. As the Holston and French Broad Rivers flow toward Knoxville and join to form the Tennessee River, you can submerge yourself in fishing, swimming, boating and even some world-class whitewater. And, options for water viewing activities include camping, hiking, biking, picnicking, wildflower scouting, bird watching and history or educational opportunities.
Our lakes have a wide variety in type of fish. The natural conditions of this area promote a healthy environment for fish but TVA also takes many measures to keep the lakes stable. They protect water by stabilizing shorelines, improve oxygen flow in the water, help marinas minimize pollution and manage reservoir levels. Black bass and Muskie in Melton Hill Lake, largemouth bass and crappie in Douglas Lake, bass and catfish in Fort Loudoun Lake, trout in the Clinch River and the South Holston has a good population of channel catfish, walleye and trout.
East Tennessee’s precious cool lakes are certainly most inviting in the heat of the summer. So, boating and swimming are at the top of everyone’s agenda. Take your pick of the lakes – each are spectacular in their own special way.
From the Knoxville area, you can travel all the way to either the Mississippi River or Mobile Bay by boat.
Norris Lake is a feast for the eyes with beautiful vistas and sparkling blue-green exceptionally clean water. Annual fishing tournaments and 4th of July fireworks celebration are just two of the events that bring out the boaters. TVA will celebrate its 36th Annual Wildflower Walk this year. The River Bluff Trail at Norris Dam Park is known for a spectacular display of yellow trout lilies, celandine poppies, bloodroot, spring beauties, toothwort, tall phlox and the loveliest display of cardinal red trillium that the eyes have ever seen.
Tellico Lake has the best views of the Great Smoky Mountains and Cherokee National Forest. More than 75% of the land around the lake is protected by TVA, so that makes for some quiet peaceful coves for swimming. Sequoyah Birthplace Museum and Fort Loudoun State Historic Park are two great educational areas that sit on the banks of Tellico Lake. Both are peaceful park settings that have grounds for walking, picnicking and organized functions. Sequoyah Birthplace Museum celebrates the contribution of one special Cherokee Indian and outlines an appreciation of the history and culture of the Cherokee Indians in East Tennessee. Sequoyah created the Cherokee alphabet. He reduced the thousands of Cherokee thoughts to 85 symbols representing sounds. Ft Loudoun State Historic Park is a reconstructed Fort from the French and Indian War. In August 1760 the Cherokee captured Fort Loudoun and the Independent Company of South Carolina after relations broke down between them. TVA has developed the East Lakeshore Trail for hiking.
Watts Bar Lake is the big daddy with its 42,000 acres of water. Annual bass fishing tournaments and a poker run are fun events that bring out large numbers of participants. The lake is wildly acclaimed for sailing environment.
Douglas Lake is the place all fishermen love to visit. It is ranked among the top 10 in the nation for largemouth bass and crappie. Douglas is also just a short drive from Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. So, if fishing and boating makes you hungry, entertainment and restaurants are easy to get to in the evening. Did I mention the spectacular panoramic vistas known as The Great Smoky Mountains.
Cherokee Lake is a beautiful sight from the summit of the Clinch Mountain Range that towers above it. Panther Creek State Park offers an extensive trail system around the lake that is great for hiking, biking and camping. Bass of all kinds are caught near the dam and even stripers will show themselves near the John Sevier steam plant.
Melton Hill is the smallest of the lakes with 5,470 acres of water. Melton Hill Dam Reservation and Melton Hill Park both have well defined walking and biking trails, great fishing and is known as one of the best rowing courses in the United States. Musky, striped bass, white crappie, largemouth bass and skipjack herring are in good numbers at the Bull Run Steam Plant and below the dam. Melton Hill Park is home to the Oak Ridge Rowing Association which hosts the US Rowing National Championships and several other regattas.
Fort Loudoun Lake is the heaviest traveled lake and cuts directly through the center of downtown Knoxville. This lake is where the action is with all manner of activity. Boating, skiing, wakeboarding and tubing are big time fun for all of us kids and kids at heart. It is well known for its great bass and cat fishing. And, in the fall boats move in a steady stream to support the Big Orange and line up on the water in front of Neyland Stadium in a boat convoy known as the one and only Vol Navy.