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Fishing Watauga Lake

AKA: Watauga Reservoir

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By AA-Fishing Staff Writers

Watauga Lake, TN

Popular Fish Species Watauga Lake, TN

Watauga Lake Popular Fish - Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass Fishing

This year, we find that largemouth bass are still the top target of anglers fishing Watauga Lake. Due to excellent fisheries management, the presence of bluegill and gizzard shad, and plenty of cover for both baitfish and bass, bass fishing for three species of bass is in great shape. Fishing for largemouth bass is good virtually any time they are shallow - in spring, mornings in summer, and during warm Fall afternoons. Use shallow crankbaits around rip rap. Around grass use worms, jigs, topwater and spinnerbaits. In deeper water, big worms, jigs and spoons are three good weapons. In winter, spend your time on deeper structure. Smallmouth bass and spotted bass also reside here in good numbers.

Watauga Lake Popular Fish - Walleye

Walleye Fishing

Thanks to a good stocking program for nearly four decades, a healthy population of walleye are now thriving in the waters of Watauga Lake this year. May and June, as the water warms into the 50's, tend to be the best time for weekend anglers to catch them. During this time they tend to move shallower, closer to shore and migrate up into inflowing rivers and creeks. Other times of the year they are more likely to roam around in deeper water. As always, staying close by schools of baitfish. They are eager to feed throughout the lake, but tend to concentrate around structure on points, flats and ledges off the river channels. A proven method for catching walleye here is trolling with spinners tipped with live bait, or trolling with long-billed, deep diving crankbaits. However casting live bait, jigs, worms and spoons also works well at times.

Watauga Lake Popular Fish - Lake Torut

Lake Trout Fishing

Year round, fishing for lake trout in Watauga Lake is often quite good and the fish are plentiful. These large trout can be caught from as shallow as 15 to 30 feet in Spring and Fall, to as deep as 120 feet or more during Summer and Winter. Good electronics are a big help in locating lake trout. They feed on baitfish, so jigs rigged to imitate their prey often work well straight down under the boat. Trolling with spoons and numerous other set-ups can also produce good catches.

Watauga Lake Fishing Video

Fish species to fish for...

Guide to fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, black crappie, white crappie, walleye, rainbow trout, brown trout, lake trout, bluegill, redear sunfish, rock bass, warmouth and white bass at Watauga Lake in Tennessee.

Along the northeast border of the state, Watauga Lake is a 6,400-acre reservoir that annually makes the Bassmaster Top 100 bass lakes in the USA. Smallmouth bass, trout and walleye are the favored species here, but the lake also boasts largemouth, spotted and white bass, plus crappie and numerous sunfish, including bluegill.

Watauga Lake, nestled in the Appalachian Mountains of northeastern Tennessee, is a hidden gem for anglers seeking a tranquil fishing experience. This 6,430-acre reservoir, formed by the Watauga River, offers pristine waters, abundant fish species, and breathtaking scenery.

Watauga Lake is well-known for its exceptional trout fishing. The lake is regularly stocked with rainbow trout and brown trout, attracting both fly anglers and spin fishermen. The cold, clear waters provide the perfect habitat for these trout species. Anglers can cast their lines from the shoreline or explore the lake by boat to find the best fishing spots. Watauga Lake's reputation as a premier trout fishery makes it a popular destination for anglers looking to hook into some impressive catches.

In addition to trout, Watauga Lake supports a variety of other popular fish species. Smallmouth bass and largemouth bass can be found in the lake's rocky areas and submerged structures, providing exciting opportunities for bass fishing enthusiasts. Crappie, walleye, and catfish are also present in the lake, offering anglers diverse fishing options. Whether casting for trout, targeting bass, or seeking other game fish, Watauga Lake provides a rich and rewarding fishing experience.

Watauga Lake's combination of excellent trout fishing, scenic boating opportunities, and camping facilities make it a favored destination for anglers and nature lovers in Tennessee. Whether you're casting your line for trout, exploring the lake's hidden coves by boat, or camping amidst the mountain wilderness, Watauga Lake offers a captivating and unforgettable experience for all who visit.

Fishing Boats For Rent In TN

Primary fish species residing in Watauga Lake

Click images for fishing tips and details about each species.

Largemouth bass Smallmouth bass Spotted bass Channel catfish Flathead catfish Black crappie White crappie Walleye Rainbow trout Brown trout Lake trout Bluegill Redear Sunfish Rock Bass Warmouth Sunfish White Bass

Watauga Lake Amenities

Marina: Seven
Boat Rental: YES
Boat Launch Ramp: Eight
Campgrounds: YES
RV Hookups: YES
Lodging: YES
Convenience Store: YES
Bait & Tackle: YES
Restaurant: YES

Today's Weather & Forecast

Boating on Watauga Lake is a delightful way to explore the scenic surroundings. Anglers and boating enthusiasts can launch their boats from public ramps and cruise the lake's tranquil waters. Boaters can navigate the lake's numerous coves, bays, and channels while taking in the awe-inspiring mountain vistas. The calm waters and absence of heavy boat traffic create an idyllic boating atmosphere.

Fishing Boat Rentals

Fish Springs Marina
Rentals: Pontoon boats
423 768-2336

Lakeshore Marina
Rentals: Fishing boats, runabouts and pontoon boats
423 725-2223

Multiple marinas and boat launch ramps are conveniently located around the lake. Known as a very "bank fishing friendly" lake, there is over 100 miles of shoreline to approach from land or water. The lake is used by pleasure boats, family boats, ski boats and all types of fishing boats including kayaks, canoes and pontoon boats. Plenty of cabins, camping and cabins are available for family vacations or weekend fishing trip.


Fish Springs Marina
191 Fish Springs Rd
Hampton, TN 37658
423 768-2336

Pioneer Landing Campground Marina
105 Cowan Town Rd
Butler, TN 37640
423 768-3164

Public Boat Launch Ramps & Landings

Little Milligan Boat Ramp
Located mid lake, south side, off Moody Circle road, this is a one-lane, concrete ramp with a dock and paved parking.

Sink Mountain Recreation Area Boat Ramp
Located in the northeast corner of the lake, north side, this is a gravel ramp with limited, gravel parking.

Watauga Dam Boat Ramp And Parking
This is a two-lane, concrete ramp with a dock and paved parking. It is located in the northwest corner of the lake, immediately east of the dam.

Fishing Guides On Watauga Lake

Fish Springs Marina Fishing Guides - bass, crappie, trout

Watauga Joe's Fishing Guide Service - trout

If you offer fishing guide services on this lake, please contact us for a free listing, to be posted here.

Fishing License

Click here for a Tennessee Fishing License.

Camping facilities near Watauga Lake offer visitors the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the area. Campgrounds provide amenities such as campsites, picnic areas, and restroom facilities. Camping near Watauga Lake allows anglers and outdoor enthusiasts to extend their stay and make the most of their fishing adventures. It also provides a peaceful and rejuvenating environment to connect with nature and enjoy the serenity of the lake and its surroundings.

Campgrounds & RV Parks Nearby

Watauga Dam Campground - 423 542-3533

Bayview Family Campground - 423 768-0434

Boots Off Hostel & Campground - 239 218-3904

Watauga Lake, TN Map - Fishing & Camping Areas

Contact Information

Watauga Lake
Watauga Point Recreational Area
Cherokee National Forest
Hampton, TN 37658
423 735-1500


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Watauga Reservoir in Tennessee.

Smallmouth bass, catfish, trout and walleye fishing in northeast TN.

Fishing at Watauga Lake, in Tennessee.