Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

TWRA's Region 4 - East Tennessee

Reservoir Fisheries Management Program

Tellico Reservoir - General Information

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

 

GENERAL:

Tellico Reservoir was created in 1979 by the Tennessee Valley Authority. It is located at the base of the Appalachian Mountains in portions of Blount, Monroe, and Loudon Counties. The lake's two major tributaries are the Tellico and Little Tennessee Rivers. At full pool, the reservoir includes 361-miles of shoreline and approximately 16,500 surface acres of water. This site provides the location of the lake's marinas and boat ramps.

At full pool, the reservoir extends 33-miles up the Little Tennessee River to Chilhowee Dam and 20-miles up the Tellico River. Except during flood events, most outflow from Tellico Reservoir passes through a canal into Fort Loudoun Reservoir. Tellico experiences the same water level fluctuations as Fort Loudoun.

Tellico is a cool water impoundment due to the cold water inflows from Chilhowee Reservoir and the Tellico River. Since much of the reservoir is relatively infertile, it does not support high densities of fish. Some of the most common game fish include largemouth and smallmouth bass, white crappie, bluegill, rainbow trout, and walleye. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has issued an advisory against the consumption of catfish due to PCB and mercury contamination.

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 piers at Fort Loudoun State Park and Lotterdale Cove. Eighty-four smallmouth bass spawning benches were placed in the lower section of the reservoir in 1996.

BLACK BASS:

Largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass are present in the reservoir. Since Tellico is not very fertile, it will never support the densities of black bass that more fertile reservoirs in east Tennessee such as Cherokee and Douglas do. Largemouth is by far the most abundant of the black bass species and Tellico is known for its numerous, quality-size largemouth.

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

Spotted (Kentucky) bass make up a good percentage of the black bass population in Tellico. Unlike largemouth and smallmouth, this species rarely reaches quality size in any east Tennessee reservoir. They also utilize the same habitat and compete with the more quality-size smallmouth bass. As a result, anglers are encouraged to keep spotted bass fish for the table.

CRAPPIE:

Anglers catch almost as many crappie as they do bass and more crappie are taken home by Tellico anglers than any other game fish. The latest angler survey estimated that nearly 75% of the white crappie caught were kept by anglers while only 2 percent of the largemouth were kept.

There is a 15-fish daily creel limit with a 10-inch minimum size limit imposed on crappie.

WALLEYE:

Tellico is well suited for supporting a quality walleye fishery because it has cool water temperatures and good oxygen levels throughout the summer. It does, however, have a limited food supply and cannot support extremely high numbers of fish.

Walleye in the 10-pound range are not uncommon and they have been stocked regularly into the reservoir since 1982. Over-harvest could quickly impact the quality of the fishery so strict compliance with regulations is important. The current regulation allows five walleye per day with a minimum length limit of 15-inches. Only one may be 24-inches or larger.

TROUT:

The upper reaches of Tellico Reservoir in the Little Tennessee Arm below Chilhowee Dam can support trout due to the cold, well-oxygenated releases from the Chilhowee Reservoir. There is a 7-fish per day harvest limit with no size restriction imposed on trout.


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: Bat, Clear, and Island Creeks provide excellent pre-spawn bass fishing. 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 Mann’s deep running crankbaits, Carolina rigs, and pig n’ jigs; Fall: Creek mouths and river channel points using shallow running crankbaits and topwater 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 jigs, and grubs; Summer: River channel points and humps and rip-rap banks using deep running crankbaits and pig ‘n jigs; Fall: River channels using shallow running crankbaits and topwater plugs; Winter: River channel near the dam and the Little Tennessee River section using jigs, grubs, and shiners.

Crappie- Spring: Creek channels in open water and brush with jigs, grubs, and minnows. The standing timber in the Tellico River also holds crappie; Summer: River channels at night with jigs, grubs, and minnows; Fall and Winter: In creeks with jigs, grubs, and minnows.

Walleye and Sauger- Spring: Upper Little Tennessee River section trolling crankbaits or drifting with jigs, grubs, and minnows; Summer: Occasionally caught by bass anglers in river channels fishing deep running crankbaits; Fall and Winter: Same methods as in the spring with less success.

 

Tellico Length at Age

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