Great Smoky Mountains National Park has about 2,115 miles of streams within its boundaries, and protects one of the last wild trout habitats in the eastern United States. 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.
Fishing is permitted year-round in the park, from 30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset. The park allows fishing in all streams EXCEPT the following stream and its tributaries upstream from the point described:
This stream is closed to fishing to allow fish to repopulate following restoration work. For the exact location, consult the appropriate USGS 1:24,000 Quadrangle Map available at park visitor centers. Detailed information, including a complete list of regulations and a map of fishable park waters, is also available at any visitor center or ranger station.
Didymo is a non-native single-celled algae species that ruins stream and river beds. It has been found in the streams of 16 states, including Tennessee. Protect park streams by not spreading "Rock Snot"!
Persons under 16 in North Carolina and under 13 in Tennessee are entitled to the adult daily bag and possession limits and are subject to all other regulations.
Fishing is permitted year-round in open waters.
Fishing is allowed from a half hour before official sunrise to a half hour after official sunset.
Daily Possession Limits
Five (5) brook, rainbow or brown trout, smallmouth bass, or a combination of these, each day or in possession, regardless of whether they are fresh, stored in an ice chest, or otherwise preserved. The combined total must not exceed five fish.
Twenty (20) rock bass may be kept in addition to the above limit.
A person must stop fishing immediately after obtaining the limit.
Brook, rainbow, and brown trout: 7 inch minimum
Smallmouth bass: 7 inch minimum
Rockbass: no minimum
Trout or smallmouth bass caught less than the legal length shall be immediately returned to the water from which it was taken.
Lures, Bait, and Equipment
Fishing is permitted only by the use of one hand-held rod.
Only artificial flies or lures with a single hook may be used. Dropper flies may be used. Up to two flies on a leader.
Use or possession of any form of fish bait or liquid scent other than artificial flies or lures on or along any park stream while in possession of fishing tackle is prohibited. Prohibited baits include, but are not limited to, minnows (live or preserved), worms, corn, cheese, bread, salmon eggs, pork rinds, liquid scents and natural baits found along streams.
Use or possession of double, treble, or gang hooks is prohibited.
Fishing tackle and equipment, including creels and fish in possession, are subject to inspection by authorized personnel.
Please report violators to nearest ranger or to (865) 436-1294.
Be A Clean Fisherman
Brook Trout Fishing
Aquatic insects need rocks for cover as well. Some aquatic insects can drift off or move when disturbed, but many species attach themselves to the rock and cannot move. When a rock is moved, aquatic insects fall, are crushed by the movement, or dry out and die when the rock is placed out of water.
One of the fundamental policies of the National Park Service is to preserve natural resources in an unaltered state. Consequently, it is against the law to move rocks in the stream. Please abide by these rules so that future generations may enjoy the park as well.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Angler’s Companion
Visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park's official online store for other books, maps, and guides to the park. Operated by the nonprofit Great Smoky Mountains Association, proceeds generated by purchases at the store are donated to educational, scientific, and historical projects in the park.
Did You Know?
More than 240 species of birds have been found in the park. Sixty species are year-round residents. Nearly 120 species breed in the park, including 52 species from the neo-tropics. Many other species use the park as an important stopover and foraging area during their semiannual migration.