East Tennessee Outdoors: East Tennessee’s Best Trout Waters – Part 2

Published 12:53 pm Tuesday, April 21, 2020



We have been counting down the five best trout streams in east Tennessee, and today we will make it to numbers three through five in our list. Any of these rivers are good enough to be classified as some of the best trout waters in the South.

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3. South Holston River

Many anglers swear by the South Holston River and for good reasons. It is an excellent fishery that harbors good numbers of fish. The river starts as a tailwater from South Holston Dam, and the cold water and excellent habitat allow the fish to grow fast and big.

Expect to catch a lot of fish here, but also expect to catch more rainbows than brown. South Holston is probably the best stream for brown trout fishing in east Tennessee.

Rainbows by the thousands call this stream home as well, and rainbow trout are stocked in this stream starting each spring and continuing through the summer.

This river holds some really big fish, and trout weighing 10-pound or more are caught in areas of this stream each year. The stream produces fish this large because of the slot limit on the river.

Trout 16 to 22-inches long have to be released and cannot be kept by the angler. This allows these fish to grow to the fish of your dreams.

Anglers should be careful of rising high water on this river because the South Holston Dam does generate almost every day. If the dam is not generating, most anglers can wade this water without any problems.

Overall, the South Holston River is one of the best brown trout streams in Tennessee and it is just a short drive from home.

4. Clinch River

Yet another great tailwater that has to be added to our list is the Clinch River. This little river begins at Norris Dam and eventually flows to Clinton in East Tennessee.

This river has the perfect water temperature and habitat to produce trophy fish. In fact, the current state record brown trout was caught from the Clinch, a monster that weighed over 28 pounds.

You may not always catch a monster from this river but it does have enough rainbow and brown trout to keep you coming back for more. This is another one of those tailwaters that can have fluctuating streams levels, so be careful wading.

This water can be heavily fished, but if you fish during weekdays, you will not see many other anglers.

5. Hiwassee River

How can we make a list of premier trout waters and leave out the Hiwassee River? Located in Southeast Tennessee, the Hiwassee has 55 miles of some of the most beautiful waterways you will ever see.

It also has trophy fishing as well and has even produced a state record flathead catfish that weighed around 85 pounds.

The river is divided up into the upper, middle and lower Hiwassee and many anglers choose to fish it by boat.

While using a boat be careful because the river has an assortment of rapids, sharp rocks, and sheer cliffs that require expert navigation.

If you would rather fish this water by wading, don’t worry. There are 20 different access points located in the 55-mile stretch of water.

If you go, expect good size fish in good numbers. The river is full of rainbows and browns that will take a variety of bugs, spinners, and natural baits.

We are truly blessed to live in an area of the state that is world-known for its quality trout streams. Take the time to fish one of these waters and take advantage of some of the natural beauty God has given us in east Tennessee.