Attention, anglers! Your long wait is over: Fishing returns May 15.
Your patience and cooperation will soon be rewarded with trout that have only grown fatter (and will soon be restocked), with freestone streams running cleaner and purer, and with spring Cherokee fishing in all its glory. Principal Chief Richard Sneed has decreed by Executive Order that Cherokee’s Fisheries & Wildlife Management may reopen fishing to the general public starting May 15. To ensure your continued safety, please keep the following measures in mind:
Cloth coverings will not be mandatory while fishing.
Social distancing requirements, however, do remain in place.
Other important details to remember:
Despite fishing reopening on the Qualla Boundary May 15, the Memorial Day Fishing Tournament continues to be cancelled. Information on refunds can be found on this page, just below.
Stocking of all Enterprise Waters will resume prior to the May 15 opening date.
Fishing permits may be purchased online at fishcherokee.com or anywhere on the Qualla Boundary fishing permits are sold.
Please be careful to avoid purchasing fishing permits for closure dates. Refunds will not be issued.
Due to the special State of Emergency closure, annual permits will not be extended.
To protect all our anglers, the Memorial Day Fishing Tournament has been cancelled.
Scheduled for May 23-24, 2020, the Memorial Day Fishing Tournament has long been a highlight of the early fishing season on the Qualla Boundary. Due to the extended closure of the Boundary, however, and to protect Tribal members and all of the tournament competitors out there, Tribal Leadership has cancelled this tournament.
Current closures and cancellations:
Memorial Day Fishing Tournament, May 23-24, 2020: cancelled
EBCI Enterprise Waters: Opening on May 15, 2020
Official opening day of the 2020 fishing season: May 15, 2020
Please note that the 2.2 miles of Enterprise Waters set aside for catch-and-release fishing remain open year round. Also, the extended closure of the Enterprise Waters will not be enforced on EBCI enrolled members, their spouses, or EBCI first descendants. EBCI spouses and first descendants must obtain a special use fishing permit from the Fisheries & Wildlife Management office in order to fish Enterprise Waters. All legal fishing methods apply.
Registration refunds, permit reprints, and other adjustments.
If you’ve registered, paid your fee, and purchased two-day fishing permits for either the Opening Day Fishing Tournament or the Memorial Day Fishing Tournament, you may choose to use those same permits to compete in the Tim Hill Memorial Trout Tournament, July 11-12, 2020. That is, of course, contingent on the Boundary’s reopening to the general public. Your permit may be presented to Fisheries & Wildlife Management Office staff at the tag turn-in location during the Tim Hill Memorial Trout Tournament in July for verification.
Fees that are eligible for refunds:
Opening Day Fishing Tournament Registration Fee $15
2-day Fishing Permit dated March 28-29, 2020 $17
Memorial Day Fishing Tournament Registration Fee $15
2-day Fishing Permit dated May 23-24, 2020 $17
Refund requests may be considered upon written request to the Fisheries & Wildlife Management office at PO Box 1747, Cherokee, NC 28719. Please be sure to include all of the following:
(1) a written request for a refund
(2) a copy of the permit
(3) your contact information
(4) a signed W-9 form
Refund decisions will be processed when the Boundary reopens and the Fisheries & Wildlife Management office staff returns to duty, which is projected be June 8, 2020. If you’re also interested in a refund for your valid annual permit or daily permits you purchased that were affected by the Boundary’s closure, be assured that information will be provided to you once the Boundary reopens and normal business operations resume.
Fishing permits purchased for the dates of March 28-April 11, 2020 may be used for one future date during the 2020 fishing season once it reopens. Reprints of permits dated March 28-April 11, 2020 will not be authorized, so please hold on to your printed copy. We recommend that you DO NOT PURCHASE fishing permits for dates of closure.
Like many offices, we are dealing with staff shortages currently. Please check FishCherokee.com for updates, and check the Fish Cherokee and Visit Cherokee NC Facebook pages for the most recent information. Thank you for your patience and continued understanding. We look forward to seeing you on the water, doing what we all love to do. Let's all stay safe.
Here, the waters run pure and ancient, and the fish are freshly stocked and plentiful.
Today is your day, proud angler—30 miles of streams, arguably the longest stretch of managed private fishery in the eastern US, stocked to the gills with trout: rainbow, brook, golden, and brown. What are you waiting for? They’re here and they’re hungry. You will discover thousands of new favorite fishing spots, all collected into one jaw-droppingly beautiful place. From catch-and-keep to catch-and release calendars, you’re casting constantly. Yet in Cherokee, the memories you catch while fishing might be the tastiest of all.
We’re passionate about trout.
A precious natural resource, the abundantly trout-filled stream system in Cherokee connects 30 miles of freestone streams that include secluded forest settings, suburban roadside areas, and even the Cherokee town center. Over 40 shops and stores offer authorized fishing permits, and a growing number of tackle shops supply both expert and novice gear including flies, tackle, and bait.
What’s a freestone stream?
Paradise for fish; bounty for fishermen.
It’s alive, natural, and ever changing. Found only in high elevations and foothills, a freestone stream is formed by runoff rain or melting snow water that collects as gravity pulls it off mountaintops, forest floors, and isolated coves. As the water descends ever rapidly, chaos happens–trees are uprooted, rocks dislodge, boulders crash, and streams carve out their course as they form. Depending on rainfall, don’t be surprised if a favorite run is returned to rubble or a scenic bend has acquired an inviting new stretch of riffles and pocket pools. But that’s all part of the unfolding beauty of Cherokee fishing.