Profile: Leatherwood Resort & Marina
Sunrise on Leatherwood Resort & Marina's harbor.
Whether you come by boat, RV, car or motorcycle, Leatherwood Resort & Marina is one of the best places on Kentucky Lake to relax and have fun. Located near the midpoint of an 84-mile Tennessee River stretch from Kentucky Dam to the I-40 crossing, this inviting destination offers easy access to great fishing areas.
If you come by boat, the river is wide, the current less than 0.5 mph and the scenery beautiful. The entrance to Leatherwood is at mile 73.6. The channel is marked with green and red secondary channel buoys all the way to the docks. Leatherwood Marina has one of the deepest harbors of any marina on the river, with a minimum of eight feet at the lowest point during winter pool. In the summer, the lowest depth is 13 feet. The docks can handle transient boats up to 100 feet long. Covered slips with power and water come in sizes from 20 to 50 feet. The harbor is sheltered from storms and the wakes from passing vessels being behind a long peninsula that parallels the river and provides a natural breakwater.
Some boaters on the Tennessee will cruise from Knoxville to Nashville in pontoon boats, personal watercraft and runabouts with no living accommodations. Leatherwood is a perfect overnight stop with its restaurant and cabins. Cabins can be reserved for a single night in the offseason for these boaters. Be sure to make a reservation during peak season, as there is a two-night minimum.
If you choose to come by road, it’s an adventure to be remembered. Leatherwood is 9.2 miles from State Highway 79, which runs from Clarksville to Paris, Tenn. Turn south at State Road 232. The road twists and turns along the top of a ridge for the first few miles. It’s the kind of road that motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts love. Nearing Leatherwood, the road runs right beside the Tennessee River. Now, you can start to relax and think about the fabulous meals that wait at the Pirates Cove Restaurant. It’s like a retreat, so shut off your cell phone and enjoy.
Owners Jim Butkiewicz and Curtis Johnson tell a story about their Blackbeard burger, which contains a half-pound of premium beef, topped with sautéed onions, mushrooms, crisp bacon and melted Swiss cheese. At 6:30 a.m. one day, the first restaurant customer was large man. The man says, “I gotta have a Blackbeard burger. I’ve dreamed of that sucker all night long.” Although this burger is not on the breakfast menu, an exception was made that morning.
When the weather is warm in the afternoons on weekends, the area in front of the restaurant becomes busy with entertainment and dancing. You’ll have a table with an umbrella to keep the sun off. A full bar is beside the restaurant and serves beer and wine, as well as mixed drinks that are made from scratch ingredients rather than pre-made mixes. In fact, quality ingredients are the key to all the food and beverages served.
Kentucky Lake is a 160,000-acre impoundment that boasts 2,380 miles of shoreline. Countless bays, inlets and points make angling here one of the most awe-inspiring sightseeing trips you will ever fish — with Leatherwood Resort & Marina right in the center of the action.
The world record catfish was caught on Kentucky Lake in 1971, weighing in at an unbelievable 115 pounds. Tennessee’s warmer climate means a longer growing season, which results in big and aggressive bass and panfish. Huge numbers of lunker black bass and crappie are the main ambition of anglers that regularly harvest quality game fish. Having a seven-pound Kentucky Lake largemouth going spastic on your line is a real treat, no matter what type of fish you normally see.
Fishing at Leatherwood is generally good year around with the primary season spanning from March to November. Mid-March to mid-May is crappie season. Early April finds the smallmouth completing its spawning season, and generally fishing some of the deeper rock banks and walls off secondary points is a good bet. As the water temperature nears 64 degrees, the bass can be found moving to and from the beds along creek channels toward the back bays and calm inlets in woody cover. Crank and spinner baits are your primary tools here to quickly work the water, but don’t leave out skirted jigs, silver minnows or use a Carolina rig, as largemouth tend to feed on the huge population of shad in the lake.
Leatherwood Resort & Marina has much to offer and is an all-round fun place to visit whether you come by water or road.
AT A GLANCE
Leatherwood Resort & Marina
753 Leatherwood Bay Rd.
Dover, TN 37058
Hours: Marina and campsites are open all year. Restaurant is open mid-March to mid-November. Weekends only until late April and after Labor Day.
Credit Cards: American Express, Visa, Mastercard, Discover
Fuel: 87 and 93 ethanol-free regular
Transient Dockage: Covered and uncovered, 20 to 100 feet
Water Depth: Minimum 13 feet summer pool, eight feet winter pool
Amenities: Pirates Cove Restaurant and store, bar, entertainment, seven cabins, 40 full hook-up campsites, tent sites, playground, swimming pool, gas dock, bath house, showers, Wifi at restaurant, satellite TV and phone connections at marina
Services: Pontoon and fishing boat rentals, live bait, fish cleaning station, boat ramp, pump out
Getting There By Water: Tennessee River mile 73.5
Getting There By Road: Tennessee SR-79 to SR-232 to Brownfield Road to Leatherwood Bay Road