Sure, it’s winter, but Watts Bar waterway never freezes.

Many residents of Crossville take advantage of this big, deep water in the shadow of the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant. The Watts Bar Lake reservoir covers 39,000 acres, with some 780 miles of shoreline. The Dam was built in 1942 by TVA for flood control, power supply and recreation. There are many coves and islands to explore, many depths to drop your baits down into, and beautiful vistas to admire.

We took the opportunity to fish on our visit. We caught a couple of nice, big crappie, walleye, fat largemouth and smallmouth bass.

On another ride over, we found a guide to take us for big striped bass. Swimming down deep are the jumbos: huge catfish. Catfish varieties such as Blue Cats, channel cats, flathead cats, brown and yellow bull heads. 

This area is a beautiful place for boating and bending a fishing rod. It’s where you can go fishing year-around. 

I had a chance to fish with a professional fishing guide and a friend with a boat on the reservoir on another visit. I watched as big flatheaded monster cats finally came to net. My wife, Barb, bent a rod several times pulling on some big striped bass. 

Good spots to launch your boat are aplenty, and several fine marinas have friendly folks to advise what and when they are biting, as well as picking up the right terminal tackle gear and baits that fit the fish here. 

Watts Bar Lake is situated in the heart of the Tennessee River Valley in Roane, Meigs, Rhea and Loudon counties. From fishing, boating, camping (tents, RV or cabins) to scenic car rides, this is a fine day trip for us Crossville folks.

Area marinas offer hundreds of boat slips, large and small boat rentals, cabin rentals, houseboats and supplies. 

Countless coves and islands with natural sand beaches offer ideal spots for virtually all water sports. Fishermen can cast a line in the wide-open flats or the narrow winding river channels and expect to see and a wide array of freshwater fish. The best fishing is said to be between April 15-Nov. 1, when the lake is at the summer pool level of 741 feet above sea level. During the winter months, the level usually drops about 6 feet, but fishing is still very good.

The scenic highway that runs from Watts Bar Dam to Cherokee National Forest in the Great Smoky Mountains proves to be a delightful drive any time of year. Between the water activities, marinas, bed-and-breakfasts, delightful people and campgrounds, Watts Bar Lake offers something for the whole family.

I recently found out you can even boat to the Gulf of Mexico from Watts Bar Lake. It’s a slow run through several locks, but I hear it’s a great scenic trip to Mobile Bay and Gulf of Mexico. I’m planning on this trip!


Stats on Watts Bar Lake

 Length: 72.70 miles

 Depth: 108 feet

 Surface area: 61.08 square miles

 Surface elevation: 741 feet

 Inflow is the Tennessee River

 Outflow is the Tennessee River