From Watts Bar Dam you will have a fast (three hours) run down to LORET RESORT VILLAS on Chickamauga Lake, near the very lively city of Chattanooga. There isn't any place to buy things along the way, so stock up on cold beer (legal here), soda and ice before leaving Watts Bar.
The lock through 112-foot Watts Bar Dam takes about 15 minutes. On the downstream side, Chickamauga Lake is approximately the size of Watts Bar and has a shore line of 810 miles. It averages between a quarter and a half mile wide for much of its 59-mile length. This is an easy stretch to run, with deep water virtually from shore to shore. It is a good place to let young members of the family practice river piloting.
At least one gas stop is necessary on this run. The most convenient place is at Dayton Light (mile 504.4), 26 miles from Watts Bar. A well-marked secondary channel swings right from the river and runs a mile and a half to DAYTON'S DOCK in the town of Dayton. Other fueling points are at PINE HARBOR, SHADY GROVE HARBOR and BASS BAY RESORT CAMP. From here it is only another 16 miles to Loret Resort Villas on Harrison Bay (mile 479) in Chickamauga Lake.
This is an area the serious bass fisherman will really enjoy. Harrison Bay is approximately two miles across. It is a series of flats and shallows spotted with small islands, many of them root-covered and submerged. It is ideal water for casting surface lures over stump beds or trolling along the island banks.
The most popular bass trolling lure in this area is a silver-colored Buck's lure, although almost any color combination of this lure will take fish. Sam Thatcher, who manages Loret Villas when he isn't out fishing, has a standing bet with all comers that he can take a bass within 15 minutes any time he trolls a Buck's lure. Thatcher claims he has had to pay off only once—and on that occasion he hooked into a 2½-pounder five minutes after the time limit expired. Whether or not this is true, there is no question that there are plenty of bass in Harrison Bay.
There is also a floodlighted fishing dock, which is almost as popular with less serious fishing members of the family as its bass waters are with dedicated anglers. Loret's boat dock is one of the prettiest on any TVA lake, particularly at night. Its lighted stalls accommodate more than 100 boats. Dockage is included with cottages, which rent from $11 up. All of Loret's cottages are air-conditioned, equipped with kitchens and look out across the bay. A new restaurant opened this year.
Picnic Island, attached to the mainland by a floating walk, is directly opposite the resort. Its name, of course, comes from the most popular activity which occurs there. Water skis and speed boats are for rent—and very much in demand—here. In fact, the latter sport is so popular on weekends in the deep waters near Wolftever Bridge that even an expert needs courage to jockey the crisscrossed wakes of several hundred hot-rod runabouts.
There is plenty of night life in Chattanooga, only a 30-minute drive from Loret Villas. (Baby sitters and transportation to the city are both available at the resort.) Although mixed drinks are as taboo here as in most of Tennessee, many nightclubs—and Chattanooga has a number of good ones—show a casual disregard for this and other restrictions.
One of the best places to spend an evening is the CASTLE IN THE CLOUDS, which is high above Chattanooga on Lookout Mountain. It is an elaborate, exotic showplace with first-class food, a good orchestra and big-name entertainment. On warm summer evenings there is dancing on the outdoor patio against a panorama of winking lights from the city far below.
Nearby, THE CHATEAU is a smaller, more intimate restaurant which serves the best food in the Chattanooga area. Its dimly-lighted dining room is flanked on one side by a horseshoe-shaped bar and on the other by a well-played piano.