Best Trout Fishing in Tennessee

In Tennessee, the Watauga River and the South Holston River are just two of the best trout fishing spots to land a great catch of rainbow, brown, or brook trout. In this article, we’ll review some of the best trout fishing places in Tennessee and provide information on allowable gear and open fishing seasons. 

Watauga River

Best trout fishing in Tennessee

Watauga River offers sixteen miles of excellent trout fishing, especially for brown trout. The river is stocked by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency each year. The best place to access the river via wading is just downstream of the Watauga Dam. 

You cannot use baited fishing gear in this river and the trout limit is two fish per day measuring at least fourteen inches in length. 

South Holston River

South Holston River

South Holston River provides eighteen miles of trout fishing waters with a majority of brown trout and some rainbow trout mixed in. There is a trout catch limit of seven fish per day measuring sixteen to twenty-two inches, although one of these fish can be over twenty-two inches in length. There are certain areas of the river that are closed to fishing from November 1 to January 31.

Caney Fork River

Bridge at the Caney Fork river

Caney Fork River is one of the longest trout fishing rivers in the state spanning almost 150 miles in length. It offers all three trout species – rainbow, brook, and brown. The most popular trout fishing gear used in this river include bottom, fly, and lure fishing. 

The total trout catch limit for the Caney Fork River encompassing all three species is five fish per day. Broken down by species, only one brown trout per day measuring at least twenty-four inches in length, and five each of rainbow and brook trout per day measuring fourteen to twenty inches in length are the catch limits. 

Tellico River

Tellico River

The Tellico River offers thirteen miles of trout fishing and the best place to access the river is from the Forest Service Road 210. The most popular fishing gear for trout fishing this river includes in-line spinners or bait. This river boasts some giant trout and is very popular; however, anyone wishing to fish here must purchase a Tellico-Citco permit. 

The trout catch limit for the Tellico River is seven fish per day. Fishing is only permitted from dawn until dusk and anglers may only use one rod and reel for fishing.

Dale Hollow

Dale Hollow

Dale Hollow boasts all three trout species for fishing and a variety of gear is popularly used in this water body. For rainbow trout especially, downriggers, jigs, spoons, and crankbaits are popular ways to catch fish. Night fishing is also allowed here, and a lot of fishermen take advantage of the after-dark trout catching. 

The total trout catch limit for all three species is seven fish per day. 


Tennessee offers excellent trout fishing where rainbow, brook, and brown trout are all in abundance. The Watauga River, South Holston River, Caney Fork River, Tellico River, and Dale Hollow are just a handful of the various bodies of water that boast a great opportunity to catch trout.

For great trout fishing in nearby states, check out our page.


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