Fishing & Boating


30 Miles of Well-Stocked Trout Streams

The Smokies are a fisherman’s delight whether you prefer flat water fishing on Lake Fontana or trout fishing on one of our many mountain streams or rivers. And the trout fishing is especially good in the well-stocked Cherokee tribal waters. 

Each year, the EBCI Fish and Wildlife Management division stocks nearly 400,000 trout in the tribal waters, a stream system connecting 30 miles of freestone streams that include secluded forest settings, suburban road side areas as well as the center of the town of Cherokee.

Tribal waters (PDF map). No license is required to fish in Reservation waters, however a tribal permit is required.

• One-day permit: $10 (creel limit of ten)
• Two-day permit: $17
• Three-day permit: $27
• Five-day permit: $47
• Single season permit: $250

Buy Permits OnlineA permit is not required for children under 12, if accompanied by a permitted adult.
There is a catch-and-release section for flyfishing only. A Tribal Special Use Permit allows use of this area, designated on the Raven Fork. An additional $75 annual permit is required in this section.

Fishing in the “Trophy Waters”catch-and-release section of Ravens Fork requires an additional special use permit. Details, including information on multi-day and special use permits, can be found here.

The tribe offers three handicapped fishing piers that accommodate wheelchairs. One is located at the fishing ponds in Big Cove and two are along the Oconaluftee River in downtown Cherokee.

To fish in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you must have either a valid North Carolina or Tennessee fishing license. You can purchase a basic North Carolina license at locations throughout the area.

NC License (Residents)
• Ten-day : $9
• One-year: $22
NC License (Non-residents) 
• Ten-day : $20
• One-year: $38

If you plan to fish for trout outside the National Park or Cherokee Reservation, an additional “trout stamp” is required at a cost of $15. Some of the trout streams are strictly catch-and-release. Information on Trout Fishing in North Carolina from NC Fish & Wildlife.

There are several marinas at Fontana Lake for boat rentals as well as several public boat ramps. Guide services are also available.

Cherokee’s Trout Fishing Tournaments

Fish Cherokee LogoIn 2011, the U.S. National Fly Fishing Championship was held in Cherokee’s Tribal Waters — the first time the National event had been held in the Southeast. For more information on fishing tournaments, visit Fish Cherokee, a website devoted exclusively to Tribal fishing events.

Fishing & Boating

  • Cherokee Fisheries & Wildlife Management

    Cherokee Fisheries & Wildlife Management offers over 30 miles of stocked rivers and streams of enterprise waters. Choose from hundreds of fishing spots including secluded private spots, 3 easily accessed ponds or 3 handicap piers. The enterprise waters include 2.2 miles of catch & release fly fishing waters that are open year around. To fish these clear running streams, river or ponds, you only need a fishing permit. Purchase permits from many local vendors.
  • Fontana Village Resort

    Located in Fontana Dam, North Carolina, Fontana Village Resort offers a range of accommodations, including rooms and suites in The Lodge, cabins, and RV and tent camping along the Little Tennessee River. The resort also features a marina and supply store, boat rentals, convention and event space, restaurants, shopping, fitness center, pools, championship disc golf course, whitewater rafting, and miles of on-site trails for bikers and hikers.