Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

TWRA's Region 4 - East Tennessee

Reservoir Fisheries Management Program

Wilbur Reservoir - General Information

TWRA Region IV Office
3030 Wildlife Way Morristown, TN 37814
(423) 587-7037 or (800) 332-0900
Updated -October 2016



Wilbur is a small, 72-acre reservoir located near Elizabethton and within Carter County of east Tennessee. Its dam, which impounds the Watauga River, is the second oldest in the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) system. Construction began in 1909 and was completed in 1912 by the Watauga Power Company. TVA purchased the dam from the East Tennessee Light and Power Company in 1945.

The Cherokee National Forest surrounds this three mile long reservoir. Wilbur is supplied by water from deep within Watauga Reservoir and it runs cool and clear year-round.

The primary game fish are trout, largemouth and smallmouth bass, black crappie, and rock bass. Rainbow trout are stocked on an annual basis and thrive in the cold, clear water.

There are not any fish consumption advisories issued for the reservoir. There is only one small public boat ramp located just downstream of Watauga Dam. Navigation is very limited and not recommended for larger craft.


Smallmouth and largemouth bass are present, but the cold water limits the growth rates of these popular species.  The daily creel limit for both species is five in any combination with no minimum length limit.


Crappie are present in limited numbers. There is a 15-fish daily limit with 10-inch minimum size limit.


The TWRA stocks rainbow trout on an annual basis. The cold water and good dissolved oxygen levels create an ideal habitat for these popular game fish. There is no size limit for any trout species, but there is a daily limit of 7; only two of which can be lake trout.


Rock bass are present. There is a 20-fish daily creel limit with no size restrictions.


Largemouth bass - Some popular tackle are Silver Buddies, Carolina-rigged plastic lizards, 4-inch plastic worms, crankbaits, Shad Raps, Rapalas, Rat-L-Traps, spinner baits, buzz baits, and many more.

Smallmouth bass - Fish live bait on the bottom, Carolina-rigged lizards, or cast firetiger or shad colored Shad Raps, Rapalas, and Rebels.

Crappie - Fish in downed trees in the early spring or late fall. Small minnows, plastic grubs, flies tipped with minnows, and small crankbaits work best.

Trout - Bank fishing with corn and salmon eggs is productive, or use terrestrial fly patterns and tiny topwater plugs.