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The Great Smoky Mountains are known for their native brook and brown trout, and Gatlinburg and the National Park have over 2,800 miles of rivers and streams that are just waiting for you to cast your line. Since 2015, visitors and locals alike have been allowed to fish in ANY stream and river in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, so they can enjoy all the fishing in the Smokies that they want!
The National Park Service website for the Great Smoky Mountains writes:
“Great Smoky Mountains National Park has about 2,900 miles of streams within its boundaries, and protects one of the last wild trout habitats in the eastern United States. Approximately 20% of the park’s streams are large enough to support trout populations.The park offers a wide variety of angling experiences from remote, headwater trout streams to large, coolwater smallmouth bass streams. Most streams remain at or near their carrying capacity of fish and offer a great opportunity to catch these species throughout the year.
You must possess a valid fishing license or permit from either Tennessee or North Carolina. Either state license is valid throughout the park and no trout stamp is required. Fishing licenses and permits are not available in the park, but may be purchased in nearby towns or online. Special permits are required for fishing in Gatlinburg and Cherokee.”
Before you pack your fishing gear, however, there are local and state fishing regulations you’ll have to know:
* Children under the age of 13 do not require licenses or permits of any kind.
* Adults must have the proper local and/or state fishing licenses. Tennessee or North Carolina state licenses are acceptable throughout the park. You can find licenses in most fishing stores in the area, or you can get them here.
* Fishing permitted year-round in the park, from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. Fishing is permitted year-round in open waters.
* Special permits are required for fishing inside the city limits of Gatlinburg (yes, you can actually fish downtown with the right permit).
* 5 brook, rainbow trout, brown trout, smallmouth bass, or any combination of these are permitted as the maximum you can catch each day. 20 rock bass may be kept at maximum in addition to this limit.
* The minimum size for a brook, rainbow trout, brown trout or smallmouth bass is 7 inches. Any of these fish smaller than 7 inches must be returned to their waters immediately. There is no minimum for a rockbass.
* Fishing is only permitted with one hand-held rod. Only artificial flies or lures with a single hook may be used. Dropper flies may be used with up to two flies on a leader.
* No fish bait of any kind other than artificial flies or lures may be used.
* Double, trebel or gang hooks are prohibited.
* Do not dispose of fish remains within 200 feet of a campsite.
* Do not move rocks to form rock channels and other dams to gain advantage in fishing. This is illegal and a natural disruption of the ecosystem.
In addition to the streams inside the National Park, there are two designated children’s fishing areas inside North Gatlinburg Park and Mynatt Park which are heavily stocked with trout. The North Gatlinburg city park is located (naturally) at the northern Parkway entrance to the city, and Mynatt Park is located off of Airport Road.
In downtown Gatlinburg, there are some additional restrictions. Fishing is not allowed on Thursdays, as this is the day that the city stocks its waters with trout. Trout is also prohibited from capture from December 1st and March 31st. Any trout caught in downtown Gatlinburg between these dates must be immediately released. All multiple-type hooks are prohibited. No one over the age of 12 is allowed to fish in any children’s fishing stream.
For more information on fishing in the Tennessee Smokies, see Gatlinburg’s official fishing page here.
For more information on Fishing in the Tennessee National Park, click here.