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Little Tennessee


Large freestone river

Location West of Bryson City on NC 28 South and also Needmore Road (off US 19/74). Easy to moderate access.

Species Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Kentucky Spotted Bass, Walleye, Muskie, Catfish, Carp

License Requirements NC fishing license

Little Tennessee River is one of the most beautiful rivers in North Carolina and is one of the best rivers in the state for smallmouth bass fishing. The Smithsonian Institution wrote in the 1880s, that the Little Tennessee River was "undoubtedly the most interesting archaeological section in the entire Appalachian district."

Water flows are consistent throughout the year and provide ideal conditions for wade fishing or fishing from drift boats. Rainbow and brown trout live in the river all year, with spring runs of walleye and white bass providing plenty of action before the smallmouth start showing up in mid-May. The Little Tennessee River could be the most perfect warm water fishery in the Smoky Mountains.

Remnants of old settlements of the Cherokee are still visible along the riverbed and banks today. Several Cherokee Indian fish traps, which are weirs made of stacked rocks used to catch fish, remain in the riverbed. Access to the river is very good along Forest Service sections and especially in the Needmore community. Numerous areas offer easy access and ample parking along the river. The Forest Service has also established several new boat ramps to launch canoes, kayaks, and drift boats.