Ready to Fish Cherokee? Here’s Everything You Need to Know. | Cherokee, NC

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Ready to Fish Cherokee? Here’s Everything You Need to Know.

When you fish Cherokee, you're fishing the best and longest privately-owned and stocked fishing waters east of the Mississippi. For over 50 years, Cherokee has had one of the greatest stocking programs in all of the US—outfitting over 30 miles of Enterprise water with close to 300,000 rainbow, brook and brown trout annually. No wonder it's known as one of the best places to fish!

Every year people come from every state in the country, and from other countries, to fish Cherokee.

"People know this is a premier trout fishing destination and they travel far and wide to come fish Cherokee," says Mike LaVoie of Cherokee Fisheries and Wildlife Management. As Mike points out, it's also one of the only places where you can fish and catch trout and have elk crossing the river right next to you.

Fishing styles include short rod/spin and bait fishing, handy for penetrating some of the heavily forested banks, and fly fishing.

2020 Fishing Tournaments and Events

Check out the Cherokee fishing tournament lineup for 2020. Cherokee’s fishing tournaments offer friendly competition and big payouts, from a $3,000 purse all the way up to $20,000 in tagged fish at several tournaments. Just make sure you pay attention to the registration deadlines so that you can be a part of the action. Happy fishing and good luck! 

A Cooler of Fish

The tribe’s stocked Enterprise Waters which includes most of the Raven Fork, Oconaluftee River, and Soco watersheds are overseen by Cherokee Fisheries and Wildlife Management, and are legendary for large fish and a full-limit catch—ten fish per day, per permit.

"If you keep the first 10 fish you catch, you'd limit out in the first hour," says a visiting angler from Atlanta. He says he prefers to fish in Cherokee, even though it's two hours away from his home, because the fishing in Cherokee is so much better in terms of fish quality and quantity.

Catch and Release

Fly fishing is becoming a growing preference for fans of the catch-and-release lifestyle. The Parkway Haven is a 2.2-mile stretch of catch and release water in Cherokee, which offers deep, inviting pools alongside riffles, runs, and pocket waters. It runs north from where the Blue Ridge Parkway crosses Raven Fork.

Michael Bradley, a Cherokee champion fly fisherman and member of Fly Fishing Team USA likes to fish the trophy waters in Cherokee the best. "I go there for numbers and occasionally you'll stick a 20 inch trout in there. I've caught plenty of them," he says. For Michael's advice on fishing Cherokee, read our profile piece on him here.

(Photo by kkthemook via Flickr)

Permit First

Fishing in Cherokee is allowed from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset, but first you'll need a permit.

You can purchase your permit online here and print it at home, but don't forget to carry it with you at all times when fishing on the Eastern Band Reservation.

Permits are $10 per day for persons 12 years of age and over, for streams and ponds. Children under 12 are allowed to fish when accompanied by a permitted adult.

Multi-day permits are available at a reduced rate of $17 for a two-day permit; $27 for a three-day permit; and $47 for a five-day permit.

A single season's permit is available for $250.

Catch-and-Release Special Use Permit

The Special Use Permit allows use of the catch-and-release area designated on Raven Fork. It is $25 for a one-to-three day permit, or $75 per year with the purchase of a general tribal fishing permit.

Just make sure you follow the regulations within the catch-and-release area.

Gear Up and Cast On

Over 40 shops and stores in and around Cherokee offer authorized fishing permits, and a growing number of tackle shops supply both expert and beginner gear including rods and reels, waders, boots, and different types of lures and flies. With advance notice you can even rent equipment from some places, so be sure to call ahead first.

Know Where to Go

Want to know the best places to fish in Cherokee? Check out An Insider's Guide to Fishing in Cherokee for the local scoop.

Whether you'd rather catch and keep or catch and release, take a look at the map for precise locations, as well as handicap-accessible fishing spots throughout the Qualla Boundary.​


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