Watts Bar Lake

Region: Regional
Watts Bar Lake
Spring City, TN 37381



Watts Bar Dam, located midway between Knoxville and Chattanooga, is one of nine TVA dams on the Tennessee River. Watts Bar Lake provides a variety of recreational play from paddling, fishing, swimming, and camping. A scenic overlook near the dam provides visitors with a panoramic view of the reservoir and surrounding countryside. Completed in 1942, just three weeks after Pearl Harbor the reservoir provided the urgently needed electricity for the war effort. The height of the dam is 112 feet and stretches 2,960 feet across the Tennessee River. There are 722 miles of shoreline and over 39,090 acres of water surface. To maintain the water depth required for navigation, the minimum winter elevation for Watts Bar Reservoir is 735 feet with a typical summer operating range between 740 and 741 feet. In addition to forming a navigable 72-mile-long reservoir on the Tennessee River, Watts Bar also creates a slack-water channel for navigation more than 20 miles up the Clinch River and 12 miles up the Emory River. Countless coves and islands with natural sand beaches offer ideal spots for virtually all types of water activities.

Fishing: The best fishing is said to be between April and November when the lake is at the summer pool level of 741 feet above sea level. During the winter months, the level usually drops about six feet. Anglers can cast a line in the wide open flats or the narrow winding river channels and expect to catch jumbo crappie, lunker, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, trophy stripers and a wide array of freshwater fish. Crappie and sauger fishing in the spring is exceptionally good. Peak time for fishing largemouths is from April through June with October through December the best for smallmouths. October and November are also the peak times for striped bass, but you can catch the big stripers year-round. In August and September the lake's white bass fishing is second to none in the state. Note that the state of Tennessee advises against eating fish caught in certain areas of the lake due to PCB contamination.


Trails: The scenic Betty Brown Memorial Walking Trail winds along the lake's shoreline, through 4 parks providing many glimpse of waterfowl and wildlife. Birdwatchers will enjoy the large population of great blue herons, over 120 nesting pairs of osprey, along with a few bald eagles that live on or near the lake.

watts bar Lake

Watts Bar
Clinch River
Release Schedule:
Watts Bar Dam
Phone: 865-632-2264

Fishing Reports:
Navigation Charts
Access Points:
TVA Listings
TVA Access Points Map
TVA Campgrounds
TVA Recreational List
Kingston City Park
Ladd Park
Southwest Point Park