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Countless ways to enjoy the water

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    A water release by the TVA Sunday, May 29, provided a water playground for rafters and kayakers along the Upper Ocoee River. The section of the river was the whitewater paddling site for the 1996 Olympics.
    Photo by Tracey Trumbull.
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Water recreation doesn't have to be limited to a day in a swimming pool or at an aquatic park.

For those who love the water, the Scenic City and its surroundings offer everything from canoeing and fly-fishing to kayaking Class III and IV whitewater rapids in the Ocoee River for those who seek a little more adrenaline -- all within a short drive.

Whether you are an avid angler or just want to fish for fun, there are plenty of opportunities around the area. Tennessee is home to more species of freshwater fish than anywhere else on the North American continent, according to Outdoor Chattanooga.

You can fly-fish in the Hiwassee River near Reliance, Tenn., or angle for bass closer to home on Chickamauga and Nickajack lakes.

Carters Lake, near Fort Mountain State Park in Murray County, Ga., at the southern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains, offers camping, picnic areas and plenty of fishing. Rental cabins and boats also are available.

The Chattanooga area is hard to compare to another town or city, said Philip Grymes, executive director of Outdoor Chattanooga.

"I think the water resources are far and above 90 percent of other cities in the country," he said.

The Tennessee River system also provides flatwater paddling opportunities, including the Tennessee River Blueway, a 45-mile canoe and kayak trail that runs from Chickamauga Dam to Nickajack Dam.

There's tubing, rafting and kayaking with guides or solo in the Ocoee River, only an hour away near Ducktown, Tenn.

The Ocoee River was the site of the 1996 Olympic canoe and kayak events, and the Hiwassee River, known for its fishing and beginner whitewater paddling, is a popular and accessible river for first-time rafters, according to Outdoor Chattanooga.

In Cohutta, Ga., about 25 miles from downtown Chattanooga, Farmers Lake has clear blue spring water to play and swim in. It is spring-fed, keeping the temperature in the high 50s. It is open daily from noon to 6 p.m. and closes after Labor Day.

And in neighboring Alabama, Lake Guntersville, located between Bridgeport and Guntersville, is the state's largest lake and stretches 75 miles from Nickajack Dam to Guntersville Dam. Free boat ramps and private marinas dot the lake's perimeter.

MORE INFO

For more information on TVA's reservoir levels, tributary flows and expected water releases from its dams, call the 24-hour automated service at 423-751-2264.

-- Farmers Lake, 5510 Red Clay Road, Cohutta, Ga. Hours: noon to 6 p.m. seven days a week. Price: $5 per person, $7 on weekends.

-- Carters Lake: From Dalton, Ga., take state Highway 52 east about 15 miles to U.S. Highway 411 and turn south, then left on state Highway 136 east. For more information, call 706-334-2248 or 706-276-4891.

-- The Conasauga River offers hiking, biking, snorkeling and canoe and kayak river access points. For more information, visit www.conasaugariver.net.

-- The Ocoee River is located in the Cherokee National Forest. A variety of companies offer rafting and tubing trips.