To experience the best NC fishing, you need to buy a fishing permit. Luckily, that’s as easy as catching a Cherokee trout.
With an easy-to-purchase permit, you’re ready to drop a hook for the first time or compete in the lucrative tournaments held throughout the season. You’re ready to Fish Cherokee.
It’s more fun when you follow the rules.
Fishing on the Qualla Boundary (otherwise known as the Cherokee Reservation) is infinitely more fun when you do it the right way. We’ve set up the following Frequently Asked Questions to help guide your understanding and ensure you and your family of fishers have a great time.
When do I need a Tribal Permit?
Only a Tribal Permit is required to fish within the Reservation. Outside the Boundary you must have a valid state fishing license. Dozens of local businesses in Cherokee are authorized outlets for fishing permits. The permit applies to Enterprise Waters only, which are managed by the Tribal Fisheries and Wildlife Management Program.
What are Enterprise Waters?
Enterprise Waters include most of the Raven Fork, Oconaluftee River and Soco watersheds. All remaining waters on the reservation may only be fished by members of the tribe and are off limits to the general public.
How much is a Tribal Permit?
$10.00 per day - Tribal Permit for each person 12 years of age and over for streams and ponds. No other fishing permit or license is accepted. Children under twelve are allowed to fish when accompanied by a permitted adult. Two-, three-, and five-day permits are available at a reduced rate of $17 for a two-day, $27 for a three-day, and $47 for a five-day. A single season's permit is available for $250.
When does the fishing season start, and when does it end?
For 2019, Cherokee's fishing season “opening day” will be March 30, and we are offering you 20,000 reasons to get excited about it. Please be aware the catch-and-keep season will be closed to all anglers two weeks prior to this date, or March 16–29. For those who prefer catch-and-release fly fishing, a full 2.2 miles of it has been set aside just for you, and those areas will remain open year-round. Fishing is allowed from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset.
Is there a limit to how many fish I can catch?
Daily limit is ten trout per permit holder (includes catch of children fishing under a supervising adult's permit).
What’s a Catch-and-Release Special Use Permit?
$25 for a 1–3 day or $75 per year with the purchase of a general fishing permit, the Tribal Special Use Permit allows use of the catch-and-release area designated on the Raven Fork. All general fishing regulations apply to this permit as do following the Special Use Permit Regulations within the catch-and-release area:
Tackle is limited to fly rods, reels, and line with a maximum of 18 feet leader material or monofilament line attached.
Only artificial flies and streamers constructed of natural or synthetic material on a single barbless hook are permitted.
Fishing with multiple flies attached to a single line (droppers) is permitted.
Is anything forbidden inside the catch & release area on Raven Fork?
Taking of any live fish caught.
Use of any spin & bait casting rods, reels, lures, or tackle.
Use of any natural bait, fish bait, or bait paste including fish eggs or derivative.
What if I have any concerns?
To report any resource violations contact Natural Resources Enforcement (NRE) at 828.359.6166 or 828.359.6168
To pay fines contact the Cherokee Tribal Justice Center at 828.359.1065
Read more about the Cherokee Code Chapter 113 Hunting & Fishing Laws.