best boating lakes in tennessee

Best Boating Lakes in Tennessee: 5 Great Spots

Known for being at the forefront of energy production and research in the world, the state of Tennessee is an industrial and technological powerhouse, whether it be from nuclear, coal, or hydroelectric sources. Behind the mantle of advancements and innovation, however, you would be able to see this wonderful state for what it is: a culturally diverse region filled with numerous naturally occurring bodies of land and bodies of water. This is why it is important to talk about the very best boating lakes in Tennessee, along with the scenic valleys, an abundance of wildlife, and interesting museums.

If you are prepared to find out more about what the state of Tennessee has to offer from a boating, fishing, and water-based tourism perspective, then definitely continue reading!

Our Most Recommended Boating Lakes and Destinations in Tennessee

Below are the 5 greatest lakes for Boating in the State of Tennessee.

1. Watauga Lake

watauga lake tennessee

Watauga Lake, known by locals as the Watauga Reservoir, is a man-made body of water that was a project accomplished by the Tennessee Valley Authority in the late 1940s to aid in flood control and hydroelectric power generation.

Situated primarily in Elizabethton, Tennessee, this lake has a surface area of approximately 16 square miles, and an averaged depth of roughly 52 feet, and a maximum depth of 265 feet.

Most of Watauga Lake’s landmass is found within the protected Cherokee National Forest and hence efforts to transform and develop that section of the destination never prospered. However, the available region of Watauga Lake is open to the following recreational activities:

  • Fishing
  • Water skiing
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Boating
  • Fine dining
  • Museum tours
  • Swimming

Watauga Lake is stocked with several fish species that build up a majority of the ecosystems in this region, including the following:

  • American gizzard shad
  • Alewife
  • Channel catfish
  • Bluegill
  • Spotted bass
  • Walleye
  • Lake trout
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Largemouth bass
  • Rainbow trout
  • Spotted bass
  • White bass

2. Chickamauga Lake

chickamauga lake

Chickamauga Lake is yet another reservoir that attributes its inflow and volume to the Tennessee River and the construction of the Chickamauga Dam (once again managed and accomplished by the Tennessee Valley Authority) in the year 1940.

The term Chickamauga is in reference to the Cherokee community that live within and near this destination, specifically within Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Unlike the first entry in our list, this lake is massive, with a reported surface area of 91 square miles and a maximum depth of approximately 70 feet.

Enjoy breathtaking views in this tourist spot and engage in any of the following recreational activities:

  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Camping
  • RV parking
  • Cabin rental
  • Luxury accommodations
  • Water sports
  • Sailing
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Scenic tours
  • Golf

A variety of fish species also populate this man-made lake, including the following which are the most commonly caught:

  • Channel catfish
  • Black crappie
  • Blue catfish
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Largemouth bass
  • Flathead catfish
  • Redear sunfish
  • Spotted bass
  • Black bass
  • Green trout
  • Brown bass

3. Old Hickory Lake

old hickory lake

Do not let this lake’s name fool you. The Old Hickory Lake, which is in honor of former President Andrew Jackson who had the nickname “Old Hickory,” is as strong and beautiful as any other lake in North America.

Located in North Central Tennessee, this reservoir is a result of the Old Hickory Lock and Dam and the Cordell Hull Lock and Dam (that aid in flood control and hydroelectric power generation).

This lake has an average surface area of 57 square miles and a surface elevation of approximately 490 feet.

Unlike the previous entries, the construction of the dam that gave birth to this lake was led by the United States Army Corps of Engineers and was completed in the year 1967.

In terms of being a tourist attraction, you can enjoy the following recreational activities in and around Old Hickory Lake:

  • Adventure park visits
  • Mountain biking
  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Picnicking
  • Camping
  • Outdoor dining

As for the aquatic wildlife, you will definitely be catching a handful of these species during your trip:

  • Smallmouth bass
  • Largemouth bass
  • Flathead catfish
  • Channel catfish
  • Spotted bass
  • Walleye
  • Bluegill
  • Redear sunfish
  • Black crappie
  • Green trout
  • Brown bass
  • Bronze bass
  • Lineside bass

4. Norris Lake

norris lake tennessee

Norris Lake (no relation whatsoever to actor/martial artist Chuck Norris) is an artificial lake that was a result of the completion of the Norris Dam in the year 1936 by none other than the Tennessee Valley Authority for the purpose of storing water and flood control measures.

This lake was named in honor of former United States Senator George W. Norris, who was actually a major proponent in the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Norris lake has a surface area of a little under 54 square miles, an average depth of approximately 75 feet, and a maximum depth of around 210 feet.

Like any other lake destination, you can enjoy the following recreational activities:

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Swimming
  • Water sports
  • Kayaking
  • Scenic tours
  • Dining

As for aquatic fauna, expect to see any of the following fish species in Norris Lake:

  • Smallmouth bass
  • Largemouth bass
  • Striped bass
  • Black crappie
  • Walleye
  • Redear sunfish

5. Reelfoot Lake

reelfoot lake tennessee

Considered to be the only large natural lake in the state of Tennessee, Reelfoot Lake is truly a natural wonder, having been birthed as a result of a series of earthquakes that occurred in the early 1800s.

This lake has a surface area of roughly 33 square miles, an average depth of a little over 5 feet, and a maximum depth of approximately 18 feet.

Here is a list of fun and engaging activities to do within and near Reelfoot Lake:

  • Wildlife refuge visits
  • Lodging
  • Camping
  • Boat fishing
  • State park visits
  • Pontooning
  • Hiking
  • Birdwatching
  • Wildlife viewing

As a naturally occurring body of water, Reelfoot Lake is host to a multitude of aquatic species, including the following:

  • Black crappie
  • White crappie
  • Flathead catfish
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Largemouth bass
  • Common bream
  • Catfish
  • Bluegill

Conclusion

If good chicken, scrumptious barbecue, country music, and alcohol distilleries are not good enough to encourage you to visit this unique state, then we are ready to put nature on the table, led by the best boating lakes in Tennessee.

This state is as good as any in the United States to visit with your friends, family, or even just by yourself. If you need to escape to a location to unwind and forget the troubles for a week or two, then definitely consider this as one of your options.

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