Fueling more fishing, boating access

COUNCE, Tenn. — Improvements to boating access — and bass tournament opportunities — underway at Pickwick Landing State Park are part of an overall goal of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).

“We simply want to get more people on the water,” said Bobby Wilson, TWRA executive director. “That provides everyone with more opportunities to connect with the outdoors through boating, fishing and even tournaments.” 

At the park, improvements at one of the two boat ramps include additional boat and trailer parking, extending the boat ramp, upgrading the courtesy pier and improving traffic flow during takeoffs and weigh-ins. Other planned improvements include a 200-foot courtesy pier at the park’s dedicated weigh-in site.

The projects are funded through the state’s IMPROVE Act, signed by then-governor Bill Haslam in 2017. The act includes a tax for fuel that is pumped into boats on the water at marinas. TWRA receives a percentage of the tax revenue and that literally goes directly back into the water. Fishing piers, courtesy docks, and Asian carp control are examples of how the money is put back to into the resources. So is funding for fish hatchery production to increase stocking of game fish.

Wilson said in recent years the act has generated over $2 million for projects related to improving boating access, fishing opportunities and resource management that aids both needs. The good news for Tennessee anglers is the marine fuel tax revenues offset the need to increase fishing licenses costs to manage the state’s boating and fishing resources.

There are more improvements slated elsewhere during this year.

“We’re not stopping here at Pickwick,” he said. “We have six other projects planned, all to benefit boating access and for recreational boating, fishing and tournaments.”

Not funded by the IMPROVE Act, but equally as notable is the $11.7 million in improvement to Lodge Pickwick Landing. Updates were made to the 119 guest rooms, restaurant, conference center, and public areas. This week, the park is hosting the Basspro.com Bassmaster Central Open.