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.
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 white bass. Bluegill, crappie, and catfish are also present in good numbers.
Health advisories issued by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation against the consumption of catfish, 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.
Although there are problems with contaminants in the reservoir, dissolved oxygen levels are generally good throughout the 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 through it.
Fort Loudoun is a mainstem Tennessee River reservoir, fluctuations levels are not as great as seen in tributary reservoirs due to year-round navigation requirements. Because of this, traditional enhancement work using the brush to concentrate fish for anglers is not needed reservoir wide. The reservoir has several access points which can be found on TWRA’s website.