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Fishing: Creeks, Rivers & Lake Chatuge

"Many men go fishing all of their lives not knowing that it is not fish they are after."

- Henry David Thoreau

Looking to cast a fly and land a big trout?  Here in the mountains of Clay County you’ll find secluded streams, cold rushing creeks, 7000+-acre crystal clear Lake Chatuge, and some of the best opportunities for sport fishing to be found anywhere in the eastern US. Let’s start by getting you the required fishing permits. Below you’ll find links for fishing regulations and permit requirements for both North Carolina and Georgia (Lake Chatuge) and Tennessee (Hiawasee River trout fishing).


Fishing on Lake Chatuge

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, beautiful Lake Chatuge is breathtaking, with crystal clear waters surrounded by stunning mountain views.  The lake boasts 130 miles of shoreline and over 7,000 surface acres at normal summer pool levels. Bass is predominant,  including spotted bass, small- and large-mouth bass, and hybrid striped bass, along with crappie, sunfish, and channel catfish. The numerous species of fish found in the lake attract anglers from all over, from families and kids to serious sport fishermen. 

Fishing from shore is easy at many areas along the north shore of the lake, with some day-use areas providing over a mile of shoreline for fishing. Rocky banks, some with stumps and laydowns, offer ideal hangouts for bass, with crappie and sunfish hanging around docks, ledges and submerged humps.

Because the lake is located in both North Carolina and Georgia, fishing regulations for both states come into play. Check fishing regulations for specific rules regarding this reservoir before wetting a line.

Fishing on Lake Chatuge

A tributary of the Hiawassee River, with its headwaters deep in the Nantahala Mountains, Fires Creek is a wild, rough, pocket water stream with short riffles, runs and deep plunge pools. The wild trout population consist mostly of rainbows, but there are some brown trout as well. The headwaters flow from Tusquittee Bald area of the Tusquittee Mountains and flows into the Hiawassee River east of Hayesville. Fires Creek has two very small tributaries – Little Fires Creek and Long Branch that also contain wild rainbow and brown trout.  

Talk to some local experts and buy bait and tackle at:

People wishing to purchase a fishing license can do so online at, or these can be purchased directly at the Outdoor Department at the Walmart in Murphy, NC.


"If fishing is a religion, fly fishing is high church."

- Tom Brokaw

Trout Fishing on the Hiwassee River

The Hiwassee River begins in the mountains of nearby northeastern Georgia and travels west across the North Carolina state line into eastern Tennessee. So jump in the car on head west on Hwy 64 into Polk County towards Reliance, TN, and find some of the best trout fishing east of the Rockies. The Hiwassee River is the first designated “Delayed Harvest” trout stream in the state of Tennessee with “catch and release” only from October 1st to February 28th – only artificial lures and flies can be used. In many ways, fly fishing on the Hiwassee River is similar to fly fishing on many highly praised western Rocky Mountain trout streams. If it were not for a different kind of trees lining the banks, you may not notice the difference.  

For more information about all things fishing  here in our little corner of the mountains, head on over to our Helpful Links page.

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