Tennessee Fly Fishing

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TN - Clinch river: 36.123734, -84.113495
TN - Little Pigeon River: 35.685501, -83.536563
TN - Little River: 35.640132, -83.689771
TN - Holston River: 36.518423, -82.727351
TN - South Holston River: 36.079002, -83.670242
TN - Nolichucky River : 36.139245, -83.144681
TN - Watauga Tailwater : 36.360275, -82.287766
SALT LICK CREEK BELOW RED BOILING SPRINGS, TN: 36.551880, -85.857108
NEW RIVER AT NEW RIVER, TN: 36.385517, -84.554717
CLEAR FORK NEAR ROBBINS, TN: 36.388288, -84.630188
SOUTH FK CUMBERLAND RIVER AT LEATHERWOOD FORD, TN: 36.477381, -84.669368
EAST FORK OBEY RIVER NEAR JAMESTOWN, TN: 36.416179, -85.026340
WEST FORK OBEY RIVER NEAR ALPINE, TN: 36.397387, -85.174449
WOLF RIVER NEAR BYRDSTOWN, TN: 36.560345, -85.073007
CUMBERLAND RIVER AT CELINA, TN: 36.554228, -85.514414
CUMBERLAND RIVER BELOW CORDELL HULL DAM, TN: 36.286721, -85.940820
CALFKILLER RIVER AT HWY 111 BELOW SPARTA, TN: 35.912138, -85.476326
COLLINS RIVER NEAR MCMINNVILLE, TN: 35.708284, -85.731834
SMITH FORK AT TEMPERANCE HALL, TN: 36.087312, -85.907451
CANEY FORK AT STONEWALL: 36.186111, -85.904444
MANSKER CREEK AT HWY 41 NEAR MILLERSVILLE, TN: 36.357500, -86.725000
DRY CREEK NEAR EDENWOLD, TN: 36.284452, -86.706341
CUMBERLAND RIVER AT EDENWOLD, TN: 36.287500, -86.688333
EAST FORK STONES RIVER NEAR LASCASSAS, TN: 35.918398, -86.333881
WEST FORK STONES RIVER AT MURFREESBORO, TN: 35.902842, -86.429992
STONES RIVER AT US HWY 70 NEAR DONELSON, TN: 36.186445, -86.632774
CUMBERLAND RIVER AT STONES RIVER NEAR HERMITAGE,TN: 36.191667, -86.665278
CUMBERLAND RIVER AT BRILEY PKWY NR INGLEWOOD, TN: 36.235278, -86.712500
MILL CREEK NEAR NOLENSVILLE, TN: 36.009203, -86.701520
MILL CREEK NEAR ANTIOCH, TN: 36.081598, -86.680733
SEVENMILE CREEK AT BLACKMAN RD,NR NASHVILLE TN: 36.072560, -86.733332
MILL CREEK AT THOMPSON LANE, NEAR WOODBINE, TN: 36.117575, -86.719048
CUMBERLAND R AT OMOHUNDRO WTR PLT AT NASHVILLE, TN: 36.165334, -86.721387
W F BROWNS C AT GLENDALE LANE AT NASHVILLE, TN: 36.094226, -86.793888
BROWNS CREEK AT STATE FAIRGROUNDS AT NASHVILLE, TN: 36.129985, -86.761049
CUMBERLAND RIVER AT NASHVILLE, TN: 36.161498, -86.772676
CUMBERLAND RIVER NEAR BORDEAUX, TN: 36.183112, -86.832222
WHITES C AT OLD HICKORY BLVD AT WHITES CREEK, TN: 36.273942, -86.816943
WHITES CREEK NEAR BORDEAUX, TN: 36.217619, -86.820230
RICHLAND CREEK AT HARDING PLACE AT BELLE MEADE, TN: 36.101667, -86.868056
RICHLAND CREEK AT CHARLOTTE AVE, AT NASHVILLE, TN: 36.151224, -86.854272
CUMBERLAND RIVER AT BRILEY PKWY AT COCKRILL BEND: 36.183333, -86.865222
CUMBERLAND RIVER AT ASHLAND CITY, TN: 36.270556, -87.076111
SYCAMORE CREEK NEAR ASHLAND CITY, TN: 36.320022, -87.051194
HARPETH RIVER AT MILE 90.5 NEAR FRANKLIN, TN: 35.899842, -86.842889
HARPETH RIVER AT FRANKLIN, TN: 35.920817, -86.865498
HARPETH RIVER BELOW FRANKLIN, TN: 35.948166, -86.881743
HARPETH RIVER AT BELLEVUE, TN: 36.054563, -86.928510
HARPETH RIVER NEAR KINGSTON SPRINGS, TN: 36.122003, -87.098894
RED RIVER AT PORT ROYAL, TN: 36.554722, -87.141944
YELLOW CREEK AT ELLIS MILLS, TN: 36.310649, -87.553942
FRENCH BROAD RIVER NEAR NEWPORT, TN: 35.981611, -83.161088
PIGEON RIVER AT NEWPORT, TN: 35.960653, -83.174324
NOLICHUCKY RIVER AT EMBREEVILLE, TN: 36.176496, -82.457364
BIG LIMESTONE CREEK NEAR LIMESTONE, TN: 36.205938, -82.650427
NOLICHUCKY RIVER BELOW NOLICHUCKY DAM, TN: 36.065627, -82.866449
NOLICHUCKY RIVER NEAR LOWLAND: 36.126337, -83.175304
LITTLE PIGEON RIVER AT SEVIERVILLE, TN: 35.878423, -83.577669
BIG CREEK NEAR ROGERSVILLE, TN: 36.426207, -82.951830
CROCKETT CREEK BELOW ROGERSVILLE, TN: 36.379817, -83.046554
LITTLE RIVER ABOVE TOWNSEND, TN: 35.664533, -83.711282
LITTLE RIVER NEAR MARYVILLE, TN: 35.785621, -83.884604
LITTLE RIVER NEAR ALCOA, TN: 35.808839, -83.926578
STOCK CREEK AT MARTIN MILL RD NR KNOXVILLE: 35.878194, -83.895750
TELLICO RIVER AT TELLICO PLAINS, TN: 35.362016, -84.279014
CLINCH RIVER NEAR LOONEYS GAP, TN: 36.572807, -82.938754
CLINCH RIVER ABOVE TAZEWELL, TN: 36.425087, -83.398235
POWELL RIVER NEAR ARTHUR, TN: 36.542146, -83.630331
BULLRUN CREEK NEAR HALLS CROSSROADS, TN: 36.114413, -83.988174
BEAVER C NR POWELL TENN: 36.018414, -84.051580
BEAVER CREEK AT SOLWAY, TN: 35.965015, -84.178662
OBED RIVER AT ADAMS BRIDGE NEAR CROSSVILLE, TN: 36.061667, -84.961389
BASSES CREEK AT LAKE TANSI NR CROSSVILLE,TN: 35.850833, -85.054722
DADDYS CREEK NEAR HEBBERTSBURG, TN: 35.997665, -84.822495
CLEAR CREEK AT LILLY BRIDGE NEAR LANCING, TN: 36.103129, -84.718277
OBED RIVER NEAR LANCING, TN: 36.081494, -84.670311
EMORY RIVER AT OAKDALE, TN: 35.983131, -84.557992
SEWEE CREEK NEAR DECATUR, TN: 35.581317, -84.748051
OOSTANAULA CREEK NEAR SANFORD, TN: 35.327631, -84.705106
HIWASSEE RIVER AT CHARLESTON, TN: 35.295148, -84.759955
SOUTH CHICKAMAUGA CREEK NEAR CHICKAMAUGA, TN: 35.014122, -85.206596
SEQUATCHIE RIVER NEAR WHITWELL, TN: 35.206579, -85.497098
ELK RIVER NEAR PELHAM, TN: 35.296799, -85.869753
BRADLEY CREEK NR PRAIRIE PLAINS, TENN.: 35.356305, -85.979041
ELK RIVER ABOVE FAYETTEVILLE, TENN.: 35.134527, -86.539717
RICHLAND CREEK AT HWY 64 BYPASS AT PULASKI, TN: 35.195000, -87.063889
ELK RIVER AT PROSPECT, TN: 35.014236, -86.994657
SHOAL CREEK AT IRON CITY, TN: 35.024121, -87.579033
TENNESSEE RIVER AT SAVANNAH, TN: 35.224803, -88.257259
HORSE CREEK NEAR SAVANNAH, TENN (TVA): 35.180657, -88.209609
BEECH RIVER BELOW WOLF CREEK NEAR LEXINGTON, TN: 35.634167, -88.414722
TENNESSEE RIVER AT PERRYVILLE, TENN: 35.628125, -88.034476
DUCK RIVER BELOW MANCHESTER, TN: 35.470910, -86.121656
SINKING POND AT AEDC, TN: 35.410078, -86.069709
WARTRACE CREEK BELOW COUNTY ROAD AT WARTRACE, TN: 35.527295, -86.340271
DUCK RIVER AT SHELBYVILLE, TN: 35.482900, -86.462597
DUCK RIVER NEAR SHELBYVILLE, TN: 35.480350, -86.499161
BIG ROCK CR AT DOUBLE BRIDGES, TN: 35.504653, -86.767544
DUCK RIVER ABOVE MILLTOWN, TN: 35.576360, -86.778585
DUCK RIVER AT MILE 156 NEAR POTTSVILLE, TN: 35.570349, -86.871390
FOUNTAIN CREEK NEAR FOUNTAIN HEIGHTS, TN: 35.518240, -86.942070
DUCK RIVER AT COLUMBIA, TN: 35.618055, -87.032347
DUCK RIVER AT CRAIG BRIDGE RD AB WILLIAMSPORT, TN: 35.687044, -87.178875
DUCK RIVER NEAR SHADY GROVE, TN.: 35.720658, -87.266038
DUCK RIVER AT HWY 100 AT CENTERVILLE, TN: 35.784234, -87.460014
PINEY RIVER AT VERNON, TN: 35.871263, -87.501404
DUCK RIVER ABOVE HURRICANE MILLS, TN: 35.930063, -87.743079
BUFFALO RIVER NEAR FLAT WOODS, TN: 35.495906, -87.832804
BUFFALO RIVER BELOW LOBELVILLE, TN: 35.811810, -87.778755
TENNESSEE RIVER NEAR NEW JOHNSONVILLE, TN: 36.017838, -88.003089
CYPRESS CREEK AT CAMDEN, TN: 36.047004, -88.075870
BIG SANDY RIVER AT BRUCETON, TN: 36.036982, -88.229120
CROOKED CREEK NEAR HUNTINGDON, TN: 36.064506, -88.404771
SOUTH FORK OBION RIVER NEAR GREENFIELD, TN: 36.118121, -88.810895
NORTH FORK OBION RIVER NEAR MARTIN, TENN (CE): 36.405310, -88.854768
OBION RIVER AT HWY 51 NEAR OBION, TN: 36.240829, -89.217644
REELFOOT CREEK NEAR SAMBURG, TN: 36.442286, -89.296459
INDIAN CREEK NEAR SAMBURG, TN: 36.382821, -89.342477
SOUTH FORK FORKED DEER RIVER NEAR OWL CITY, TN: 35.718767, -89.212276
MIDDLE FORK FORKED DEER RIVER NEAR FAIRVIEW: 35.744236, -88.846448
HATCHIE RIVER AT BOLIVAR, TN: 35.275329, -88.976630
HATCHIE RIVER AT RIALTO, TN: 35.637335, -89.609455
LOOSAHATCHIE RIVER NEAR ARLINGTON, TN: 35.310950, -89.639560
BIG CREEK AT SLEDGE ROAD NEAR MILLINGTON, TN: 35.325919, -89.830640
WOLF RIVER AT LAGRANGE, TN: 35.032590, -89.246736
WOLF RIVER AT ROSSVILLE, TN: 35.054257, -89.541190
WOLF RIVER NEAR COLLIERVILLE: 35.081389, -89.650556
WOLF RIVER AT GERMANTOWN, TN: 35.116479, -89.801474
FLETCHER CREEK AT SYCAMORE VIEW ROAD AT MEMPHIS: 35.169370, -89.866125
WOLF RIVER AT HOLLYWOOD ST AT MEMPHIS, TN: 35.187867, -89.975645
MISSISSIPPI RIVER AT MEMPHIS, TN: 35.123146, -90.077592
NONCONNAH CREEK NEAR GERMANTOWN, TN: 35.049814, -89.818975
NONCONNAH CREEK AT FARRISVIEW RD AT MEMPHIS, TN: 35.076389, -89.954167
NONCONNAH CREEK AT RIVERPORT RD AT MEMPHIS, TN: 35.080278, -90.079167
Weir Dam on South Fork of the Holston: 36.521300, -82.101200
South Holston River (Weir Dam): 36.527465, -82.113107
South Holston River (TVA Walk-in Access at River Bend): 36.510670, -82.114710
South Holston River (Weaver Pike Access): 36.485748, -82.200308
South Holston River (Big Springs Road): 36.497446, -82.161534
South Holston River (Rock Hold Road): 36.467428, -82.220746
South Holston River (Bluff City Boat Ramp): 36.476257, -82.263973
Pigeon forge: 41.328394, -81.879548

Tennessee is the epicenter of country music, playing host to the Grand Ole Opry and serving as the country music capital of the world. However, the state also has much to offer anglers, with an abundance of rivers, streams, and tailwaters that serve as homes to the hundreds of thousands of trout stocked each year by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The TWRA works hard to provide fishermen – bait and fly alike – with a rewarding experience throughout the streams, lakes, and tailraces that abound throughout the state.

Where to Go?

If you are planning a fly-fishing trip to Tennessee, it can be hard to determine where to start. These well-known and productive locations are great places to start when filling up your itinerary.

South Holston River

Up in the far northeastern corner of the state, the South Holston Dam serves as the starting point for the South Holston River, a tailwater offering a combination of wild and stocked trout. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency stocks rainbows and browns in March and April, below the Fort Patrick Henry Dam.

As a tailrace, these waters can move up quickly when the Corps of Engineers is generating power. During non-generating times, the river is excellent for wading, coming not even waist-high most of the time. When the generators are running, the river is perfect for floating.

There are protected spawning sites on the river, closed to fishing from November 1 to January 31. These include the area between the Hickory Tree Bridge to where the river meets Bottom Creek, and downstream of Boy’s Island to the first island above Webb Road Bridge.

During normal fishing times, you may not take any fish between 16 and 22 inches, and there is a seven trout creel limit with only one being longer than 22 inches.

Access is available via Emmet Bridge, Big Springs Road, Rock Hold, and TVA Riverbend.

Hiwassee River

This is another productive tailrace, situated in Reliance, TN. The river starts in the Cherokee National Forest flows for 21 miles. The Hiwassee was the first Tennessee river to be designated as a State Scenic River, and as such offers incredible views along its banks.

Above Reliance, there is a popular six-mile stretch of river, which contains a Trophy Section, accessible by way of a trail. This upper portion can contain riffles, runs, and pools, as well as white water type characteristics, depending upon whether water is generating or not. From the dam in Reliance to the Highway 411 Bridge the stream becomes calmer and more wadeable, as well as less crowded. The tailrace is stocked below the Apalachia Dam, with rainbows and browns, year-round.

Take note that from October through the end of February the upper portion of the river is catch-and-release only under delayed harvest regulations. For the rest of the season the creel limit is seven trout, with only two browns permitted.

Clinch River

This 300-mile waterway begins in Virginia and flows through the Great Appalachian Valley, finally reaching the Tennessee River in Kingston, TN. As far as fly fishing goes, the portion you’ll be dealing with is the 13-mile stretch between the Norris Dam and the Highway 61 Bridge in Clinton, TN.

The state stocks the tailrace from March through September, with rainbows, browns, and brookies. There is a protected slot of 14-20 inches, and a seven fish creel limit, of which only one can be longer than 20 inches. These regulations apply to the tributaries as well as the main part of the river.

Again, you will want to pay attention to the water generation. When water is not being generated, there are many wading opportunities, including around Miller’s Island and at the Highway 61 Bridge access. If one generator is running, floating is the best option, and if two generators are running the waters are considered unfishable. You can check the generation schedule here.

Watauga River

This tailwater originates at the Wilbur Dam and runs for 16 miles before emptying into Boone Lake. The Watauga is known as one of the premier trout fishing destinations in the Southern Appalachians; particularly the TVA designated Quality Trout Zone, which runs from the Smalling Bridge downstream for 2.5 miles.

The tailrace is stocked with rainbows, browns, and brookies from March through September. There is a 14-inch minimum length limit, and a two-fish creel limit. In addition to quality fishing opportunities in the Watauga, the surrounding bluffs and lush foliage make for a tranquil and scenic angling experience.

There is ample access available, via the Wilbur Dam, Hunter Bridge, Siam Bridge, Blevins Road, and the TVA Twin Bridges Ramp.

When to Go?

There is year-round fishing in Tennessee, although many of the smaller streams become too warm for good fishing by mid-summer. The tailraces tend to retain their cold water virtually year-round, making them hospitable to fly fishermen no matter when you decide to go.

fThe Hiwassee River possesses the unique trait of offering top water action nearly any time of year. Winter is often under-appreciated, with this time of year often proving the most productive for the larger browns. Hatches throughout the year mean that you can take advantage of these waters by simply changing your approach.

The waters of the South Holston also remain cold even through the heat of summer, although spring and fall are considered the most lucrative times for fly-fishing there. Dry flies are particularly suitable in the spring, and fall brings a reduction in generation, which makes wading much more doable.

What You Will Need When You Get There?

Suit up with your typical gear – waders (the waters can be cold particularly in the tailraces), a wide-brimmed hat, rain jacket, bug spray, mosquito head net (especially in the summer months), vest or pack, nippers and other accessories.

In the South Holston, you’ll want a 9-foot 5 weight rod with a 6X tippet and 9-foot leader. Keep a trout fly line on-hand for floating, and density compensated full sink fly line for sinking. For the hatches, you’ll want sulphurs, BWOs, pheasant tails, midges, caddis, and mayflies. Around June terrestrials come into play. Grasshoppers, ants, and beetles will all be useful through early October.

On the Hiwassee, a 9-foot 6 weight with a 4X tippet and 9-foot leader will work well. Trout fly line and intermediate full sink fly line should be in your box. For flies, you’ll want caddis, blue-winged olives, and sulphurs for springtime. In the fall, and into the winter delayed harvest, use stoneflies, baetis, and white streamers.

Fly fishing gear for the Clinch River should include a 9-foot 5 weight with 6X tippet and 9-foot leader, trout fly line, and streamer stripper sink tip fly line. Flies include midges, BWOs, and parachutes.

On the Watauga, you’ll need about a 9-foot 5 weight with 6X tippet and 9-foot leader with trout fly line and depth charge full sink fly line. Flies include zebra midges, pheasant tails, caddis, and woolly buggers.

Required Fishing Licenses

Tennessee is unique among most states in that people ages 13 and older are required to have a fishing license. The state also differs from most in that the fishing license is a combination hunting/fishing license and is required whether you want to fish or hunt small game. The resident cost for this license is $34, and $10 for children ages 13-15. You must also buy a trout license – the cost for this supplemental permit is $22. For non-residents, there is an annual license fee of $50, with no trout permitted. The annual fishing license for all species costs non-residents $99. There are a variety of discounts available for the blind, mentally challenged, and other specifications such as military members. Check the regulations to be sure you’re getting the appropriate permit.

While the climate may not seem like it would be hospitable to fly fishermen, Tennessee hosts a robust trout scene thanks to its world-class tailraces and active stocking program. Don’t count the Volunteer State out when planning your bucket list fly fishing destinations.