Watauga Lake named one of 18 Bill Dance Signature Lakes across the state

Published 11:06 pm Thursday, February 24, 2022

BY NIC MILLER
STAR STAFF
Hampton’s Watauga Lake now has the prestigious honor of being named a Bill Dance Signature Lake.
“This is wonderful news for Carter County,” said Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby. She joined state officials, local business owners and other local officials at the lake on Wednesday to celebrate its inclusion as one of 18 Bill Dance Signature Lakes in the state.
The State of Tennessee has classified these as the lakes across the state and named them in honor of the famed angler. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has committed $15 million to “improve and enhance Tennessee lakes” and to honor Dance.
This initiative comes after Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced that the TWRA and the state would invest $15 million to “improve and enhance Tennessee lakes” and to honor Dance.
The Signature Lakes are divided into two groups, nine of the 18 being smaller lakes across the state and the other half being larger lakes.
Watauga Lake is the only lake to make the list in Northeast Tennessee, while others in the eastern third of the state include Chickamauga, Norris, and Douglas.
During the meeting, Woodby told state Department of Tourism Development’s Dennis Tumlin that holding a fishing tournament on Watauga was something that many people have been trying to do for a long time.
Tumlin, who is the Chief Customer Officer for the state’s Department of Tourist Development, said Dance is also excited about the program to develop quality fishing sites across the state.
“If it weren’t for Bill Dance lending his name, we wouldn’t be here,” Tumlin said. “His vision is for moms, dads and kids across the state to enjoy fishing.”
Renovations of Watauga Lake will include both underwater and above ground improvements, including the stocking of walleye in the lake and the renovation of Rat Branch access point, adding “sufficient lighting and well paved parking.”
Signage is also a key part of the renovation, with a soon-to-be-released logo being placed on large way-finding signs at each Signature Lake.
Tumlin said that an increase in the popularity of fishing across the state is one reason that led to the Bill Dance Signature Lakes concept, as over the past three years, the sport has grown tremendously.
There are still discussions to be made about the project, with further steps in the process to move forward later this year.

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