Reelfoot Lake Designated One of Tennessee’s Bill Dance Signature Lakes

March 23, 2022 – Joann and Kerry Spear rolled out the hospitality red-carpet at the Boat House Restaurant in Samburg, Tenn. for a special gathering at Reelfoot Lake. Dennis Tumlin, chief customer officer for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development briefed area stakeholders about plans for the lake, Just 30 miles west of Discovery Park, to be designated one of Tennessee’s Bill Dance Signature Lakes.

Bill Dance lives in Memphis, Tenn. and is considered the most-recognized fisherman of all time thanks to more than 2,000 airings of “Bill Dance Outdoors” that has been airing since 1968. In addition to the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, he is also a member of the National Freshwater Hall of Fame, the IGFA Hall of Fame and the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

Tumlin outlined the new $15.4-million-dollar initiative to increase fishing tourism across the state of Tennessee.  Funding has been approved and a 1.9-million-dollar marketing plan is in the works that includes $400,000 for Interstate signage.  Tumlin said the best interstate exits will be identified and there will be “large brown and white signs marking the exit to Reelfoot Lake.”  Other funds have been earmarked for improvements at the 17 Tennessee lakes in this project, including upgrading loading ramps and installing bathrooms in locations like Kirby’s Pocket in Samburg.

This development will impact Discovery Park as many of those who fish, hunt or birdwatch on Reelfoot Lake also include a visit to the museum and heritage park in Union City in their itinerary.

“We have the ability to communicate directly with the 900,000 people who hold fishing licenses in Tennessee, and an additional 10 million more who live in contiguous states,” Tumlin shared.  “We plan to bring lots of new fishing tourism dollars into state with this initiative.”

Frank Fiss, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Chief of Fisheries in Tennessee, spoke a bit about adding a few additional entry points into Reelfoot and steps that TWRA is taking to control the population of Asian Carp at Reelfoot.

A Tennessee Parks representative shared that plans are already underway for a new campground at Reelfoot Lake and increased parking at Kirby’s Pocket.  She said that there is a dream to build a walking trail and a pavilion, as well.

Tumlin closed the meeting by encouraging city and county government officials to use any hotel/motel tax collected for the promotion of tourism in the county.  “You might be tempted to put this money in the general fund to buy a police car or fire engine, but I encourage you to see the bigger picture,” Tumlin said.  “If you reinvest these dollars that came straight from tourists back into tourism, you’ll collect enough tax dollars to buy two or three police cars or firetrucks.”

Those in attendance represented TWRA, Tennessee State Parks, tourism professionals, Reelfoot Lake guides and government officials.

To plan your trip through Tennessee on your way to or from Discovery Park, visit