Cades Cove
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Fishing in Cades Cove

fishing in cades cove great smoky mountains

Fly-fishing for the Rainbow Trout

trout fishing in cades coveTrout Fishing Regulations (short version):

To fish in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you need a valid Tennessee or North Carolina fishing license. Licenses are NOT available in the Park, but can be obtained from sources in the towns adjacent to the Park. Non-residents 3-day permits are $10.50 and can be purchased in adjacent towns outfitters, City Hall, and the Chamber of Commerce. A daily permit for Gatlinburg only is $10.50, and a combined permit for both Gatlinburg and the Park is $20.50. Fishing is permitted year round in the Smokies from one-half hour before sunrise and one-half hour after sunset. Know your fish before you go--the possession of brook trout (speckled) is prohibited. A combination of five rainbow and brown trout per day (minimum 7 inches) is the limit. Only artificial lures and flies may be used, and only one hand-held rod is permitted. Some streams are closed to fishing to protect and study the threatened brook trout. Stop by a ranger station to obtain maps and get answers to questions. For more detailed information, read on.

Trout Fishing Regulations (long version):

The following information is taken from an official Park publication. The official publication for all Park

regulations is Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations. A copy of the Code can be obtained at most ranger stations and visitor centers.


You must have a valid Tennessee or North Carolina state fishing license to fish all open Park waters. Licenses must be presented on demand by a Park Ranger.

Tennessee License Requirements Residents and nonresidents age 13 and older need a license. The exception is residents who were 65 prior to March 1, 1990. These persons require only proof of age and Tennessee residence.

North Carolina License Requirements Residents and nonresidents age 16 and older need a license. Residents age 70 and older may obtain a special license from the state.

Persons under 16 in North Carolina and under 13 in Tennessee are entitled to the same limits as adults and are subject to all other regulations.

The Park does not sell state fishing licenses. They may be purchased in surrounding towns (see license cost in "short version" above.


Fishing is permitted year-round in open waters.


Fishing is allowed from a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset.

Daily Possession Limits

The possession of brook trout is prohibited because the Park is pursuing an aggressive program to protect and restore the brook trout to a self sustaining level. Logging operations in the early 1900s eliminated the brook trout from its natural range.

Five (5) rainbow or brown trout, small mouth bass, or a combination of these (7 inch minimum), each day or in possession. Any brook trout caught must be immediately returned unharmed to the water.

Lures, Bait, and Equipment

(a) Fishing is permitted only by the use of one hand-held rod.

(b) Only artificial flies or lures with a single hook may be used.

(c) Fishing tackle and equipment including creels and fish in possession are subject to inspection by authorized personnel.

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