General Information

The Great Lakes of the South

It’s no wonder that East Tennessee is called the Great Lakes of the South. Seven large lakes and many rivers enhance the valley of East Tennessee, including Fort Loudoun, Tellico, Watts Bar, Melton Hill, Norris, Cherokee and Douglas.

Water covers more than 220,000 acres of East Tennessee. From Chattanooga to Tri-Cities, TVA’s system of rivers and reservoirs drains more than 20,000 square miles in East Tennessee. Together these bodies of water offer more than 4,500 miles of shoreline and unlimited recreational opportunities.

The Tennessee Valley has more than 1,000 square miles of water surface and 11,000 miles of public shoreline. TVA protects a million acres of public land to support wildlife, outdoor recreation and water quality. A wide range of recreation opportunities is available on the lakes of East Tennessee. Recreation activities include picnicking boating, fishing, swimming, camping, hiking, nature study, photograph, and hunting. Facilities to accommodate these activities are managed by national, state and local agencies. Private interests operate many boat docks, marinas, and resorts.

>> Search Cherokee Lake Listings

>> Search Douglas Lake Listings

>> Search Fort Loudoun Lake Listings

>> Search Melton Hill Lake Listings

>> Search Norris Lake Listings

>> Search Tellico Lake Listings

>> Search Watts Bar Lake Listings


Recreation on area lakes with camping facilities are available. Lakes where camping is permitted area shown on individual TVA lake recreation maps which may be requested from TVA Maps, Haney Building 1A, 1101 Market Street, Chattanooga TN 37402-2801 or phone .

Camping information from TVA


Many reservoirs have one or more trails for backpacking, hiking, jogging, and bicycling, as well as quiet paths for restful walking and nature study. A Trail Guide to the Great Lakes of the South is available from TVA Map Sales, Haney Building 1A, 1101 Market Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402-2801.


Tennesseans love to fish and we do it all year round. Fishing is permitted all year in TVA lakes. Best catches are generally reported in the spring and late fall. Each state sets it’s own creel limits and establishes its license requirements. Fishing and hunting licenses are issued by each state and are sold at many boat docks. Principal game fish are largemouth, smallmouth, spotted, white, and striped bass, crappie, walleye, sauger, and sunfish. Rainbow trout are present in several of the deep tributary lakes and below some of the dams.

Fishing License goes on sale March 1 each year, the beginning of prime fishing and are valid though the last day of February. You can purchase any license, except Sportmans License, Lifetime Sportmans License and the Lifetime Senior Citizens License, from most county court clerks, sporting goods stores, hardware stores, boat docks and all Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency regional offices.

You can also order your license by mail. Just send your name, address (including zip code), date of birth, physical features (height, weight, eye and hair color), and enclose the correct fee to: TWRA/Information Section/Ellington Agricultural Center/P.O Box 40747 Nashville, TN 37204.

For additional information contact:

Tennessee Valley Resources Agency Central Office

Ellington Agricultural Center
P.O Box 40627
Nashville, TN 37204
Boat Registration
Boating Safety
License Section
Wildlife Division


Boating is a popular past time of TVA reservoirs, and encourages the public to practice water safety procedures. Significant water use hazards exist above and below TVA dams where waters often rush over spillways and through gates, lock culverts, and turbines. Many of these operations are automatic and occur without warning. Recreational boats may go through the navigation locks at dams. This service is free. Additional information in the interest of safe boating is available by contacting U.S Coast Guard Boating Safety Hotline, Washington D.C. .