Know Before You Go: Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains

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fishing gear on bankOne of the most diverse fish populations in the country is in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and surrounding areas. Angling experiences offer guests and locals the opportunity to relax and cast a line without a worry or care. If you’re looking for the perfect vacation that includes time on the water, the Smokies are the place to be.

(See Related: Where and When to Spot Your Favorite Smoky Mountain Wildlife)

Before you pack up your tackle box and fishing gear, there are regulations that must be observed by all outdoorsmen in the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Although no child under 13 is required to purchase a license, all those over 13 must carry a Tennessee Resident or Non-Resident Fishing License. To help determine which license or permit you’ll need, we’ve broken down each area and fishing type below.

Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

There are more than 2,000 miles of streams within the National Park, and many of the streams are near fish capacity. If you’re a year-long fisherman, you’ll be happy to know guests of the park can fish year-round between 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset at all streams except the Lynn Camp Prong.

To fish in the National Park, you must have either a Tennessee or North Carolina Fishing License. Each day, only five brook trout, rainbow trout, brown trout and small-mouth bass are permitted per person. Twenty rock bass are also allowed per day.

man casting line to fishTrout Only – Gatlinburg Fishing

To trout fish in Gatlinburg, residents and non-residents must purchase special licenses.

Resident or Non Resident – 1 Day Trout Permit

Ages 13 and up $11.50

Gatlinburg Trout – Daily $3.50

Gatlinburg 3 Day Trout Permit

Ages 13-64 $9.50

The fishing season outside the National Park is open from April 1-November 30. Streams are closed to fishing on Thursdays, so the city can stock the waters with trout. The daily limit is five trout per person and two trout per child on Children’s Streams.

The catch and release season is from December 1-March 31, so you can still practice throwing out a line.  Only single hook lures are permitted anytime.

Fishing with Children

If you plan to enjoy Gatlinburg fishing with children, there are three great trout streams the entire family can safely enjoy:

  • West Prong Little Pigeon River upstream of the Gatlinburg By-Pass Bridge
  • Dudley Creek from Hwy 441
  • LeConte Creek from Painters Branch

Two specific streams are designated for only children’s fishing:

  • North Gatlinburg Park at the Parkway entrance to the city
  • Mynatt Park off Historic Nature Trail

man fishing at sunsetWhere to Purchase a Fishing License


Gatlinburg City Hall

Ace Hardware of Gatlinburg

Old Smoky Outfitters

Smoky Mountain Angler

Pigeon Forge:

Pigeon Forge Hardware

Rocky Top Outfitters

J & B Market




Wishing I Was Fishin’

Have more questions on fishing regulations and licenses? Visit My Smokies invites guests to check out our GSM National Park Page. Here you’ll find information about fishing in the park, as well as other things to do while visiting the area.


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