Bill Dance, Tennessee Gov. Announce ‘Bill Dance Signature Lakes’ Honoring Legendary Fisherman

by Victoria Santiago

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and professional bass fisherman Bill Dance are working together on a new state initiative. Bill Dance Signature Lakes will improve some of the state’s lakes. Hopefully, visitation to the lakes will increase. The project will also honor Bill Dance’s legacy in the state.

It will focus on 18 lakes. Old Hickory Lake is one of them. A total of $15 million will be invested to make above and below-water improvements. It’ll be invested by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the state.

During his press release, Governor Lee said, “Bill Dance is a tremendous advocate for our Tennessee rural communities and we are thrilled to partner with him. The Bill Dance Signature Lakes highlights the importance of lakeside tourism with premier fishing opportunities and we believe this project is especially important as communities recover from the recent storms.” Dance agreed.

The money will go towards increased stocking, habitat and fisheries management, and improvising fishing and boating access. Above-water, this will take place in the form of courtesy docks, more parking spaces, additional access points, and fishing piers.

Lakes Chosen to Help Low-Income Areas

Each lake was hand-picked for the project. To be picked, it had to have the ability to be a destination fishing spot for people of all ages. Projects will begin next year (2022) and end in 2024. The hope is that this state initiative will strengthen Tennessee as the center of Southern fishing. Above all, they’re also hoping it’ll positively impact the economy.

T.N. has half a million acres of lakes and, according to the American Sportfishing Association, over 1.5 million fishing enthusiasts. 39 counties in T.N. will be impacted due to the projects. Of those 39, 22 are at-risk or economically distressed. Annually, fishing creates $1.2 billion for the state. 7,480 jobs across T.N. are supported by fishing.

Tennessee and Kentucky Try to Remove Invasive Carp

Over the past few years, fishers in Kentucky and Tennessee have fished out between 12 and 15 million carp. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife said that the fish came out of Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. Both lakes are on the border between K.Y. and T.N. With so many Asian carp being fished out of state lakes, a real effort to get rid of them has started.

According to the TWRA, the carp first lived in fish farms around the state. They eventually made their way into natural waterways and took over. By getting rid of the Asian carp, local fish will be able to recover and thrive. Plus, all of the carp will be useful for fish processors in the state. They can be used to make fish oil and fish meal. With this in mind, fishers have been allowed to fish in areas that used to be off-limits. Overall, completely getting rid of the Asian carp won’t happen. Efforts are drawing in more fishers, though, and even tourists.