Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lake Chatuge is breathtaking. Since the lake is infertile, its waters are usually clear and add to the attractiveness of the surroundings. This scenic lake set amid the Appalachian Mountains has 130 miles of shoreline and 7,000 surface acres at normal summer pool levels. Chatuge Reservoir, located on the Hiwassee River in western North Carolina, is 13 miles long and extends southeast from the dam into North Georgia. The reservoir is named after a nearby Cherokee settlement. Chatuge Lake is frequently visited by thousands each year who take advantage of all the adventures the lake has to offer.
Many visitors are drawn to Chatuge Reservoir for its fishing, and thirty-two species of fish can be found in the lake. Chatuge has a fair amount of stumps, logs, and brush in places, but is not rife with cover. Tournament fishing is common, and several state-record fish have been pulled from the lake's waters. The water is deep, and fishing in depths of 25 feet or more is common on Chatuge. Bass is predominant, with varieties including spotted bass, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, hybrid striped bass, and white bass being found in the lake. In addition, Lake Chatuge is home to crappie, sunfish, and channel catfish. Wade fishing for trout is also popular in the Hiawassee River just below Chatuge Dam. Concrete weirs, installed to increase oxygen levels and water flow, provide the trout with an ideal habitat.
For much of its history, Lake Chatuge was the best place in Georgia to catch smallmouth bass. The long-standing state record smallmouth of 7 pounds, 2 ounces, came from Chatuge. In the mid-1980s, spotted bass were introduced into the lake by unknown means, and the smallmouth began a precipitous decline. To add insult to injury, blueback herring were introduced into the lake in 1990s, again an unauthorized stocking, and the jury is still out on what the effects may be.
Key Species: spotted bass, hybrid striped bass, largemouth bass, white bass.