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South Holston Lake is located near the cities of Abingdon, Virginia and Bristol, Virginia / Bristol, Tennessee, and is a 7,580-acre (31 km2) impoundment operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Much of the reservoir is in Tennessee, but the Virginia portion of the reservoir offers anglers more than 1,600 acres of water. At this time there is a South Holston Reservoir Fishing License that will allow anglers from the two states to fish the entire lake with the purchase of this license.


South Holston offers good fishing for a variety of species. Black bass, bluegill, crappie, walleye, sunfish, and catfish are a few of the most sought after species. Predatory fish have diverse and abundant forage in the form of alewives, gizzard shad, threadfin shad and shiners. The lake’s shoreline habitats offer anglers a good diversity of structure including rock bluffs, shale banks and flat clay points. Anglers who troll will also find a good selection of open water structure ranging from river channel drop-offs to submerged islands. Description Courtesy of Wikipedia


Every year on the 4th of July, the area has a fireworks display in which the fireworks can be seen everywhere over the lake. There are also many fishing and boat racing events in the summer.


South Holston Reservoir is on the South Fork Holston River in northeast Tennessee. It extends 24 miles east of the dam into Virginia. Construction of the dam began in 1942 but was halted in favor of other wartime construction efforts. Building resumed in 1947 and was completed in 1950.

South Holston is operated for several purposes, including flood damage reduction, power production, aquatic ecology, and augmentation of the flow of water during drier periods.

The South Fork Holston River is home to an annual spring migration of white bass. Locals say that when the serviceberry and dogwood bloom, the white bass run.

A footbridge from the parking lot below the dam leads to Osceola Island and its one-mile-loop wildlife trail. Early in the morning or late in the evening are the best times to sight waterfowl, deer, and other wildlife.


Construction of South Holston Dam began in 1942 and was completed in 1950.

The earth-and-rockfill dam is 285 feet high and reaches 1,600 feet across the South Fork Holston River.

South Holston Dam is a hydroelectric facility. It has one generating unit with a net dependable capacity of 44 megawatts. Net dependable capacity is the amount of power a dam can produce on an average day, minus the electricity used by the dam itself.

In a year with normal rainfall, the water level in South Holston Reservoir varies about 25 feet from summer to winter to provide seasonal flood storage.

The reservoir has a flood-storage capacity of 252,800 acre-feet. Courtesy of TVA


South Holston is a beautiful, 7,580-acre TVA reservoir located in upper east Tennessee at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains. The dam was completed in 1950 and impounds 24 miles of the South Fork Holston River. A small portion (1,244-acres) of the reservoir is located in Virginia.


The reservoir has relatively low productivity and water clarity is normally greater than in many other Tennessee reservoirs. The 168-miles of shoreline are only partially developed and much of the reservoir is bordered by the Cherokee National Forest. This abundance of public land makes South Holston a haven for campers and bank anglers. Winter draw-downs can be severe and water levels fall 40-feet below summer pool during some years.


Quality smallmouth and largemouth bass fisheries are present. Walleye, rainbow trout, black crappie, and catfish are other popular game fish. The forage base is made up of a mixture of gizzard shad, threadfin shad, alewife, bluegill, and various minnows.


A reciprocal agreement with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries went into effect in 2011. Tennessee residents may now purchase an annual South Holston Reservoir License (Type 063) to fish the VA portion of South Holston Reservoir. Virginia residents can purchase a similar license from VDGIF to fish the TN portion of the reservoir. Anglers that are not TN or VA residents must abide by the state boundary line unless they purchase other appropriate fishing licenses from both states.


A South Holston Reservoir License is valid for all impounded portions of the reservoir below full pool elevation of 1,730 feet, including the confluence of the Middle Fork and South Fork Holston Rivers and the South Fork Holston upstream to the Route 710 Bridge at Alvarado, VA. In addition to the South Holston Reservoir License, an angler must have whatever licenses that are required to fish in their home state. A valid resident TN trout fishing license or a valid resident VA trout fishing license is required to fish for trout. All anglers must abide by the laws of the state in which they are fishing. Courtesy TWRA


Please consider showing your appreciation of South Holston Lake by picking up some litter during your next visit, many hands make light work.

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