It’s more fun when you follow the rules.
Fishing on the Qualla Boundary (otherwise known as the Cherokee Reservation) is infinitely more fun when you do it the right way. We’ve set up the following Frequently Asked Questions to help guide your understanding and ensure you have a great time.
When do I need a tribal permit?
Only a tribal permit is required to fish within the Reservation. Outside the Boundary you must have a valid state fishing license. Dozens of local businesses in Cherokee are authorized outlets for fishing permits. The permit applies to Enterprise Waters only, which are managed by the Cherokee Fisheries and Wildlife Management Program.
What are Enterprise Waters?
Enterprise Waters include most of the Raven Fork, Oconaluftee River, and Soco watersheds. All remaining waters on the Reservation may only be fished by members of the tribe and are off limits to the general public.
How much is a tribal permit?
A tribal permit is $10.00 per day for each person 12 years of age and over, and applies to streams and ponds. No other fishing permit or license is accepted. Children under 12 are allowed to fish free of charge when accompanied by a permitted adult. Two-, three-, and five-day permits are available at a reduced rate of $17 for a two-day, $27 for a three-day, and $47 for a five-day permit. A single season’s permit is available for $250.
When does the fishing season start, and when does it end?
Starting in 2016, the catch and keep enterprise waters will have an opening day again. The last Saturday in March will be opening day. The season will be closed two weeks prior to this date. The catch and release fishing area will be open year around still. Fishing is allowed from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset.
Is there a limit to how many fish I can catch?
The daily limit is ten trout per permit holder (includes catch of children fishing under a supervising adult’s permit).
What’s a Catch-and-Release Special Use Permit?
This Special Use Permit allows holders to use the designated catch-and-release area on Raven Fork. The cost of the permit is $25 for one to three days, or $75 per year, with the purchase of a general tribal fishing permit. All general fishing regulations apply to the Special Use Permit, as do the following Special Use Regulations within the catch-and-release area:
Tackle is limited to fly rods, reels, and line with a maximum of 18 feet of leader material or monofilament line attached.
Only artificial flies and streamers constructed of natural or synthetic material on a single, barbless hook are permitted.
Fishing with multiple flies attached to a single line (droppers) is permitted.
Is anything forbidden inside the catch-and-release area on Raven Fork?
Taking any live fish caught.
Use of any spin & bait casting rods, reels, lures, or tackle.
Use of any natural bait, fish bait, or bait paste, including fish eggs or derivatives.
What should I do when I catch a tagged fish during tournaments?
For Tribally hosted fishing tournaments, colored tags may be turned in at the Beetle Stage Pavilion next to the Cherokee Welcome Center from 4:00pm until 6:00pm, unless otherwise noted. All potential winners must:
(1) Turn in tag from fish. Colored tags are numerated with the tournament month and year. Colors vary from tournament to tournament. The actual fish does not need to be turned in along with tag. However, we love to take pictures of winners and their catch for submission to our website and Facebook pages.
(2) Present valid fishing permit.
(3) Provide proof of tournament registration.
(3) Sign a W-9 Form prior to receiving prize money. This requires a social security number. One form, per winner, per tournament. Parents may sign for minor children.