Fishing on Fontana—there are seven boat rental docks—is particularly good for largemouth bass, occasionally in the 8-to 10-pound class, and also for crappie and bream.
The last lake before returning to Knoxville is Hiwassee, a 95-mile drive from Fontana through great woodlands, past deep gorges and into a sparsely developed area of North Carolina which is almost surrounded by National Forests. The dam rises 307 feet above the bed of the river, forming a lake considered by many anglers the best game-fishing waters in the southern Tennessee Valley. It has been stocked with thousands of black bass and annually yields limit catches of this species, as well as pike and crappie. There are eight boat docks on the lake, all near Murphy, N.C.
The nearest motels and tourist courts are at Murphy on the eastern end of Hiwassee Lake. But for the family which likes roughing it in a trailer or tent, particularly if they want to be right where the best fishing is early in the morning, the lake itself is a lovely wilderness area for camping out overnight.
On the way back to Knoxville, break the 98-mile drive with a luncheon stop at SPIKE'S RESTAURANT outside Maryville. If nobody's hungry, wait for the DIXIELAND RESTAURANT in Knoxville, which serves really first-class food, cold beer and rare steaks.
DALE HOLLOW AND CENTER HILL LAKES
There are two more lakes cradled in the great arc formed by the Tennessee and its tributaries, which are not part of the TVA system but are linked so closely to it geographically that they definitely belong in this tour. Dale Hollow and Center Hill, built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Cumberland River, are two of the finest fishing lakes in the United States. The Outdoor Writers Association recently voted Dale Hollow the best fresh-water-fishing lake in North America.
Both Dale Hollow and Center Hill lakes can be reached by car from either Knoxville or Nashville in under three hours. Dale Hollow straddles the Tennessee-Kentucky border in the center of the state and is perhaps the best known of the two. This spring it yielded the largest brown trout ever taken on this continent (SI, May 5)—a whopping 26-pound 2-ounce fish hooked on a Doll Fly in the tail waters of Dale Hollow Dam. Three years ago this same lake produced the world's record smallmouth bass, 11 pounds 15 ounces. In between record fish, its uncountable numbers of six-, seven- and eight-pound bass lure anglers here from all over the nation.
The best place to stay is at CEDAR HILL RESORT, on Dale Hollow near Celina, Tenn. There are 20 new cottages here, as well as a motel and restaurant overlooking the water, a fine fishing dock with complete tackle, 70 fishing boats and a 30-foot houseboat which may be rented for night fishing parties ($18 daily charter or $100 per week) or for overnight trips on the lake. These are fun even for nonfishermen.
Besides smallmouths and brown trout, largemouth and Kentucky bass, walleyes, crappies to 3½ pounds, rainbows, striped bass and catfish are abundant at Dale Hollow. Dick Roberts, who runs Cedar Hill Resort, has a regular staff of 10 guides who usually report in at the dock around 6 each morning. The safest bet, however, is to call the night before, particularly if you want a specific guide, such as "Cherry," the best known at Dale Hollow. The usual guide fee is $10, but most anglers add another $5 if their luck is especially good.