Fishing in Tennessee

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Anglers in Tennessee can count themselves lucky to have access to the incredible abundance of fly fishing opportunities within the mountain streams, tailwaters, and lakes throughout the state. An abundance of wild fish and countless small streams within the Smokies make Tennessee a very rewarding state to explore with a fly rod.

The small streams and rivers in Tennessee?s Great Smoky Mountain National Park make up one of the East?s great wild trout fisheries. All the trout within the park are naturally reproducing and no stocking has occurred since 1975. Nearly every major drainage in the Smokies holds trout, with rainbows found in abundance throughout the streams, and solid populations of brown trout in the lower stretches of the same streams. While brook trout are Tennessee?s only native trout species, and though they aren?t found in nearly the abundance they once were, brook trout numbers are rising throughout certain streams in the park giving anglers the chance to connect with one of Tennessee?s true treasures. There are too many small streams and creeks in the park to list, but just about any you come across are likely to hold trout, and although you may have to hike to get to the best fishing, it'll make for an adventurous day of fishing in some of the finest small streams in the Southeast. An added bonus to Tennessee anglers is that the other half of the park located in North Carolina can be fished with a Tennessee fishing license.

Aside from the Smoky Mountain?s small streams, Tennessee?s most productive waters in terms of fish quantity and size, are tailwaters in the northeast corner of the state including the South Holston River and the Watauga River. Both tailwaters maintain consistent temperatures all year long, have some epic hatches, and support large, healthy rainbows and browns averaging 16 to 22-inches, with fish in the 6 to 25-pound range caught from time to time. Tennessee is also home to some fantastic smallmouth bass fishing in rivers such as the Holston and the Nolichucky, and reservoirs like Boone Lake and Watauga Lake, largemouth bass, spotted bass, walleye, and striped bass can also be pursued in the Volunteer State.


TN Department of Fish & Wildlife
440 Hogan Rd
Nashville, TN 37220
P: (615) 781-6500

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Tennessee Fishing Articles

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Posted on February 12, 2017

It’s winter time and if you’re like me then you’re probably daydreaming of warmer weather and being on the river. You’re also probably behind the vice tying up dozens of flies for the months ahead....

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Posted on January 21, 2016

Proper fly fishing gear is essential. Along with the reel, flies and line, the most important gear is the fly rod. Fly rods may vary in length from 6 - 12 feet and come in different weights, colors,...

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The Scout & Cast Story

Posted on February 10, 2015

My whole life has been filled with various trips to the lakes & rivers in search of fish. As a kid growing up in “Lake Country” Minnesota, it was practically a sin not to be a fisherman. I would...

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Guides based in Tennessee

Featured Program

Trout Unlimited
By the next generation, Trout Unlimited will ensure that robust populations of native and wild coldwater fish once again thrive within their North American range, so that our children can enjoy...

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