Tennessee Trout Fishing - When to Catch, Where to Catch

Fishermen's Guide For Trout Fishing in Tennessee

If you are into trout fishing, you are in the right state. Tennessee is fortunate to have an abundant wild trout resource.  Although four species of trout are found in Tennessee, only one, the brook trout, is native to the state. Trout are usually associated with streams of the eastern mountains, but there are many instances where tailwaters, small rivers and spring-fed streams in other portions of Tennessee have temperatures that support these coldwater fish year-round.

Tennessee Trout Fishing

The Appalachian Mountain range in East Tennessee has approximately 845 miles of stream that support wild populations of Brook, Rainbow, and Brown trout. Most of these streams can be found on public land within the Cherokee National Forest (420 miles of stream) and Great Smoky Mountains National Park (245 miles of stream). 

Tennessee Trout Species

Brook Trout
Tennessee’s only native trout species. At one time, all wild trout water in Tennessee was inhabited by Brook Trout. Wild populations can now only be found in the coldest and cleanest headwater streams in the mountains of eastern Tennessee at elevations greater than 3,000 feet where water temperatures are typically below 68° F.
Tennessee Brook Trout

How to Catch: Brook Trout are aggressive feeders eating insects, crayfish, salamanders, and other fish.
Size Limit: minimum 10 inches

Cutthroat Trout
These are actually native to the western United States. 
How to Catch: Cutthroat Trout are usually willing to bite a fly, lure, or bait. Typical trout baits and lures for other species will work well.

Rainbow Trout
Rainbows were originally introduced into Tennessee in the late 1880s. They are native to western United States. Wild populations are now found in about 300 streams across East Tennessee. 
How to Catch: Fly-fishing with streamers, wet and dry flies can be effective. Spinning and bait casting tackle includes small spinners, spoons, worms will work perfectly.
Size Limit: minimum 24 inches

Tennessee trout fishing map
Tennessee trout fishing map

Brown Trout
Common in about 25 wild streams, Brown Trout offer the best opportunity to catch a trophy trout in Tennessee. They are native to Europe and Asia and, like Rainbows, became naturalized in Tennessee through stocking.
How to Catch: Large browns tend to feed during low light conditions and after dark. Typical trout baits and lures are the best.
Size Limit: minimum 26 inches


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