Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

TWRA's Region 4 - East Tennessee

Reservoir Fisheries Management Program

Fort Loudoun Reservoir - General Information

TWRA Region IV Office
3030 Wildlife Way Morristown, TN 37814
(423) 587-7037 or (800) 332-0900
Updated - July 2013

 

GENERAL:

Fort Loudoun contains 14,600-acres and was created by the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1943. The reservoir supports a variety of recreational activities and provides hydroelectric power and flood control. It connects to Watts Bar Reservoir via a lock and directly to Tellico Reservoir by a canal. This webpage provides the location of the lake's 14 marinas and 24 public boat ramps.

The reservoir is located at the headwaters of the Tennessee River near Knoxville and extends 55-miles upstream from the dam to the confluence of the Holston and French Broad Rivers. Since Fort Loudoun is a navigable mainstream waterway, the annual drawdown is only six vertical feet. Water levels fluctuate between 813 and 807-feet above sea level and there are 360-miles of shoreline.

Fort Loudoun is surrounded by private and commercial development and is used extensively for fishing and other aquatic recreations. The most commonly harvested fish are largemouth, smallmouth, and crappie. Bluegill, white bass, sauger, and catfish are also present in good numbers.

Health advisories issued by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation against the consumption of catfish and largemouth bass over two pounds, and any largemouth bass from the Little River Embayment are still in effect. These advisories are due to PCB and mercury contamination and account for the low number of fish harvested.

Dissolved oxygen levels are generally good throughout the entire year. Fertile reservoirs like Douglas and Cherokee can experience low oxygen levels in the summer due to thermal stratification which can cause stressful conditions for some fish. This is not the case with Fort Loudoun because water is constantly flowing.

FISH HABITAT ENHANCEMENT:

Water level fluctuations are minimal and shoreline vegetation is well developed. Therefore, traditional enhancement work using brush to concentrate fish for anglers is not needed reservoir wide. Some recent rebrushing work has been done to attract fish to the pier at I.C. King Park. Fifty-five smallmouth bass spawning benches were placed in the lower section of the reservoir in 1996.

BLACK BASS:

Fort Loudoun contains an excellent bass fishery and a very high number of big fish. Large bass are routinely collected in TWRA's electrofishing surveys and a higher percentage of “lunkers” are found in Fort Loudoun when compared to most other east Tennessee reservoirs.

Anglers do not harvest many bass from the reservoir due to the health advisories and this is one reason for the good number of “lunkers” in the population. Bass fishing is expected to remain good for years to come because of the high release rate by anglers and the lake’s good oxygen and fertility levels.

Anglers are allowed five largemouth or smallmouth in any combination with an 18-inch limit on smallmouth and a 14-inch limit on largemouth. Fifteen spotted bass are allowed per day with no minimum length limit.

CRAPPIE:

Fort Loudoun is one of the top destination for local crappie anglers since it keeps producing year after year. There is a mixture of both white and black crappie in the reservoir, but the majority are white. Anglers are allowed 15 crappie per day in any combination with a 10-inch minimum length limit.

SAUGER and WALLEYE :

A good number of sauger are caught and harvested annually from the reservoir especially from near the forks of the river in the late winter. Anglers are allowed 10 sauger or walleye in any combination per day with a 15-inch minimum length limit.

CATFISH:

Catfishing is excellent in Fort Loudoun. The state record 130-pound blue catfish was taken by commercial gear from the lake in 1976. Flathead and channel catfish are also present.

Only one, 34-inch or longer catfish may be harvested per day. There is not a harvest limit for catfish under 34-inches.

LAKE STURGEON:

Many lake sturgeon have been stocked into the French Broad, Holston, and Tennessee Rivers upstream of Fort Loudoun Dam since 2000. They are a primitive fish and easily identified by an unusual body shape and the presence of bony plates along the back and sides. They are long lived, grow large, and are a highly sought after gamefish in the northern mid-west. 

Lake sturgeon are considered "State Endangered" so possession of these fish is illegal and anglers must release them to the water, unharmed, as soon as possible. Please report the approximate length and location of any catch of lake sturgeon to TWRA in Nashville (615-781-6574). The TWRA provides a certificate to those anglers who report the catch and release of this species.


FISHING TIPS:

Spotted bass - Bridge riprap and similar rocky areas with small white spinners, plastic grubs on leadhead jigs, doll flies, and crawfish crankbaits.

Largemouth bass - Spring: Creek points and channels using shallow running crankbaits, spinner baits, buzz baits, Carolina-rigged floating worms, and Texas-rigged worms; Summer: River channel points and humps with deep running crankbaits and Carolina rigs; Fall: Creek mouths and river channel points using shallow running crankbaits and top water plugs; Winter: Creek mouths and river channels using crankbaits, jigs, and lizards.

Smallmouth bass - Spring: Creek mouths and river channel points with shallow running crankbaits, pig ‘n jig, and grubs; Summer: River channel points and humps using deep running crankbaits and pig ‘n jigs; Fall: River channels using shallow running crankbaits and topwater plugs; Winter: River channel near the dam using jigs, grubs and shiners.

Crappie - Spring: Creek channels in open water and brush with jigs, grubs, and minnows; Summer: River channels at night with jigs, grubs, and minnows; Fall and Winter: In creeks with jigs, grubs, and minnows.

Sauger - Spring: Upstream of Knoxville trolling with crankbaits or drifting with grubs, jigs, and minnows.

White bass - Little Turkey, Sinking, and Ish creeks offer good white bass fishing in the spring. They are abundant in the Tennessee River across from the UT Agricultural School and the French Broad and Holston Rivers above Knoxville.

Catfish - Blue, channel, and flathead catfish hit nightcrawlers, chicken livers, or shiners on rocky outcroppings, on flats near the channels, and in the rear of large hollows.

 

Loudoun Length at Age

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