Spring, summer and fall are when most people come to NorthEast Tennessee to enjoy our mountains, streams and Watauga Lake. But winter is a spectacular time on the Lake…no one else, well, maybe a fisherman or two, but not many boats and no water skiers!
Watauga Lake is a dammed up river, the Watauga River which comes down from the Blue Ridge Mountains and is joined by thousands of small streams, rivers and creeks flowing out of the Cherokee Forest mountains.
In 1948 the gates were closed on the dam and the Watauga River backed up over the town of Butler and other small communities along the shore and became Watauga Lake, over 6000 acres of beautiful pristine water. Contrary to often-repeated but unsupported claims, Watauga is not the third cleanest lake in the USA. Watauga Lake’s ecological health is rated “good” by the TVA – its third highest recorded rating to date. And 80% of the shoreline is part of the Cherokee National Forest and cannot be built on creating a wonderful home for bald eagles, red tail hawks and many other birds.
Fishing is allowed year round and the lake and streams are also stocked periodically throughout the year from the fish hatchery in Erwin, TN. Walleye, trout, bass, carp and so many more types of fish are waiting for you.
Bring your own boat and launch from one of various launch areas – some require a fee, some are free. There are often days during the winter when it is warm enough to go for a ride on Watauga even in February or March. But better get back in before the sun sinks behind Iron Mountain or you’ll get chilly very quickly.
Walking along the shore when the lake is down – let down by the Tennessee Valley Authority in winter about 30′ – the shoreline is revealed. It’s quite amazing what a short walk along the shore will discover!
Come share the magic of the mountains and Watauga Lake with us at the Iron Mountain Inn B&B or Creekside Chalet.