Governor Lee announced a new program dubbed the “Bill Dance Signature Lakes” Initiative Thursday. The program – which will cost taxpayers $15 million – is a collaboration between Tennessee Department of Tourism Development (TDTD), the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), Tennessee State Parks (TSP). The announcement said the effort “seeks to solidify Tennessee as the heart of fishing in the southeast and drive economic activity across the state;” and will improve “both above and below the water at 18 lakes which bear fishing legend Dance’s stamp of approval.”

“I’m unbelievably humbled and excited to be involved in such a helpful project that will benefit so many people and our natural resources in my great home state of Tennessee,” Dance said in a statement. “You can bet your favorite lure this project will definitely have a ripple effect for a mighty long time, not only giving the weekend fisherman, but tournament anglers a wonderful fishery as well, thanks to the great state of Tennessee and my friends at TWRA.”

The Signature Lakes initiative announcements said the program will focus on helping “39 counties including 22 at-risk or economically distressed counties, and is an important step in helping those communities create new revenue streams through increased visitation.”

The the joint statement noted fishing brings $1.2 billion in economic impact annually and supports 7,480 jobs across the state, and in 2018, tourism across the state brought $22 million – more than any other state in the country.

In a tweet featuring him and legendary fisherman Bill Dance announcing the new program, Governor Bill Lee said that tourism was “especially important as communities recover from recent storms.”

Lee joked with Dance about how many of Tennessee’s better fishing spots were kept secret. Dance replied the spots were there if you knew how to look for them.

“Tennessee’s got everything from big waters to bank fishing,” Dance said. He added  Tennessee has 18 lakes he could think of that had the requirements he considered for a good fishing spot.

The lakes included in the “Bill Dance Signature Lakes” Initiative are:

  • 1000 Acre Lake, Huntington, TN (Carroll County)
  • Brown’s Creek Lake, Natchez Trace (Henderson County)
  • Chickamauga Lake, Harrison Bay State Park & Chester Frost Park (Hamilton, Rhea, Meigs, McMinn and Bradley Counties)
  • Dale Hollow Lake, North Central TN (Clay, Pickett, Fentress and Overton Counties)
  • Douglas Lake, East TN (Jefferson, Sevier and Cocke Counties)
  • Fall Creek Falls Lake, Fall Creek Falls State Park (Van Buren County)
  • Herb Parsons Lake (Fayette County)
  • Kentucky Lake, Paris Landing State Park (Henry, Stewart, Houston, Benton, Decatur, Perry and Humphreys Counties)
  • Lake Acorn, Montgomery Bell State Park (Dickson County)
  • Lake Woodhaven, Montgomery Bell State Park (Dickson County)
  • Norris Lake, Northeast TN (Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Grainger and Union Counties)
  • Old Hickory Lake, Middle TN (Sumner and Davidson Counties)
  • Pickwick Lake, Pickwick Landing State Park (Hardin County)
  • Pin Oak Lake, Natchez Trace State Park (Henderson County)
  • Reelfoot Lake, Reelfoot Lake State Park (Lake and Obion Counties)
  • Tim’s Ford Lake, Tim’s Ford State Park (Franklin and Moore Counties)
  • Travis McNatt Lake, Big Hill Pond State Park (McNairy County)
  • Watauga Lake, Northeast TN (Johnson and Carter Counties)

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Morgan Nicole Veysey is a reporter for The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow her on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Gov. Bill Lee and Bill Dance” by Gov. Bill Lee.