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Opportunities abound for Tennessee brook trout

Brook trout are the only trout species truly native to Tennessee. The native populations live only in the high mountains of East Tennessee. However TWRA has been stocking brook trout in lots of other places creating greatly expanded opportunities across the state. (Photo: TWRA)

Properly named, brook trout are primarily a mountain stream fish requiring anglers to seek them in the higher elevations, but Tennessee’s brook trout angling opportunities are more varied and plentiful than many anglers think.

For some, it can be highly rewarding to head for high mountain streams to hook wild brook trout where they seldom exceed 10-inches in length, but bigger brook trout weighing up to 4 lbs. can be caught in tailwater rivers.

Region IV Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency biologist Jim Habera said, “Exclusive of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there are 110 streams in the mountains of east Tennessee from Johnson County to Monroe County that support wild brook trout populations, although many are small and would be difficult to fish.”

Habera said that there is even a high-elevation pond (4,000 feet) in the head of Birchfield Camp Branch in the Cherokee National Forest in Unicoi County that has a brook trout population. It does however require a five-mile walk to reach.

Having this range of opportunities benefits anglers who may not wish to venture into the mountains, but still want to hook up with Tennessee’s only native trout species. The even better news is that Habera says the options for brook trout angling extend from upper East Tennessee all the way into middle Tennessee. He offers these as the best choices for East Tennessee anglers:

  • Left Prong Hampton Creek in Carter County (Hampton Creek Cove State Natural Area)
  • Little Stony Creek and Upper Stony Creek (including tributaries) in Carter County (Cherokee National Forest)
  • Gentry Creek and the northwest-flowing tributaries to Beaverdam Creek in Johnson County (Cherokee National Forest)
  • Upper Rocky Fork and Squibb Creek in Greene County (Cherokee National Forest)
  • Wolf Creek in Cocke County (Cherokee National Forest)
  • Upper Bald River in Monroe County (Cherokee National Forest)
  • Clinch River (Norris tailwater) - stocked annually with 9-inch brook trout
  • Boone tailwater (S. Fork Holston River) – stocked with brook trout most years

Habera notes that Left Prong, near Roan Mountain, supports Tennessee’s highest-abundance of wild brook trout and also has some of the largest native (uninfluenced by historical stocking) brook trout specimens. He offers these choices for anglers wishing to seek stocked brook trout in the Cumberland Plateau area and middle Tennessee:

  • Caney Fork (Center Hill tailwater),
  • Hiwassee River (Appalachia tailwater)
  • Obey River (Dale Hollow tailwater)
  • Elk River (Tims Ford tailwater)

For more information about trout angling opportunities in Tennessee, go here.

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