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.

  • Permits are required to fish all Cherokee Enterprise Waters on the Qualla Boundary (reservation).
  • Only a tribal permit is required to fish within the Reservation.
  • Outside the Boundary you must have a valid state fishing license.
  • Many 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.

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.

A tribal permit is required for each person 12 years of age and over, and applies to rivers, 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.

Daily Permits (Catch & Keep):

1-day $10

2-day $17

3-day $27

5-day $47

Annual Permit $250

Tribal Special Use Permit (2.2 miles Catch & Release):

1-3 day $25

Annual Permit $75

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 to everyone two weeks prior to this date.

The catch and release (2.2 miles of fly-fishing) area remains open year around.

Fishing hours are one hour prior to sunrise until one hour after sunset.

The daily limit is ten fish per permit holder (includes catch of children fishing under a supervising adult’s permit).

This Special Use Permit allows holders to use the designated (2.2 miles) catch-and-release area on Raven Fork. The cost of the permit is $25 for one to three days, or $75 per year.  The purchase of a daily tribal fishing permit is required in addition to the special use 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.
  • Taking any live fish caught.
  • No trout may be killed or had in possession.
  • Use of any spin & bait casting rods, reels, lures, or tackle.
  • The use or possession of any natural bait, fish bait, bait paste and similar substances, fish eggs (natural or molded), or any other edible substance.
  • Fishing without valid tribal fishing permits.
  • Snagging of fish.
  • Grabbing of fish.
  • Chumming of fish.
  • Failure to produce valid license and/or permit(s).

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians hosts 4 tagged fish tournaments a year.  Colored tags are numerated with the tournament month and year. Colors vary from tournament to tournament. 

Tags from tagged fish may be turned in at the Natural Resources Enforcement Office, 517 Sequoyah Trail, Cherokee, NC 28719 for cash prizes between 4pm-6pm each tournament day.  Tags are not accepted outside of tournament dates & times.

All potential winners must:

(1) Turn in tag from fish (fish not required)

(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.

 

Not all inclusive.  See Cherokee Code for additional information.

Appendix A. – Schedule of civil penalties.

Violations of the provisions enumerated here shall subject the offender to a civil penalty upon the issuance of a citation for such violation as provided in this Section. The civil penalty, if not paid to the Cherokee Tribal Court prior to court date designated on the citation issued, may be recovered by the Tribe in a civil action in the nature of Tribal debt. Unless otherwise provided by a specific provision of this Code, such civil penalties shall be in the amount of $100.00 for each violation, and each day any single violation continues shall be a separate violation. The following civil penalties are hereby established:

 

Infractions §113-5(c)
Number Offense Fine for
Violation
1. Exceeding creel limit (violation) $100.00
2. Fishing without a permit 100.00
3. Snagging of fish 100.00
4. Grabbing of fish 100.00
5. Chumming of fish 100.00
6. Fishing with more than one line 100.00
7. Setting of trotline 200.00
8. Fishing in closed streams, ponds or waters 100.00
9. Fishing before or after legal fishing hours 100.00
10. Failure to keep individual’s catch separate 50.00
11. Failure to retain all trout caught, when fishing Tribally managed ponds 100.00
12. Illegally caught trout 50.00
13. And additional fine for each fish caught in violation of statutes 50.00
14. Camping in unauthorized area 100.00
15. Failure to report a bait site, per bait site 100.00
16. Illegal cutting of wood or timber 75.00
17. Hunting on Sunday 75.00
18. Hunting or fishing without the proper license 100.00
19. Failure to produce valid license and/or permit 25.00
20. Failure to wear hunter orange while hunting 25.00
21. Use or possession of illegal bait 100.00
22. Use of improper equipment 100.00
23. Running dogs out of season 100.00
24. Failure to report to NREO 100.00
25. Bribing or attempted bribery of a Natural Resource Enforcement Officer 100.00
26. Removing and/or destroying tracking devices or identification collar from dogs 100.00

 

Note: In addition to all fines, court costs shall be assessed and added in amounts determined by the courts.

All other offenses are criminal violations and offenders within the criminal jurisdiction will be charged in Tribal Court; those outside the Tribe’s jurisdiction will be referred to United States for prosecution.

(Ord. No. 277, 5-12-2008; Ord. No. 427, 12-10-2010)

2020 Fishing Tournaments
Cherokee, NC
Registration begins 1/1/2020

(CANCELLED) OPENING DAY
MARCH 28-29, 2020
Registration Deadline March 27, 2020
$15 registration fee and $20,000 cash prizes
2-day tribal fishing permit required
Tag turn in 4-6pm each tournament day

Day 1
Sunrise 7:21 AM – Start fishing 6:21AM
Sunset 7:49pm – Stop Fishing 8:49pm
Day 2
Sunrise 7:20 am – Start Fishing 6:20am
Sunset 7:49pm – Stop Fishing 8:49pm

(CANCELLED) MEMORIAL DAY
MAY 23-24, 2020
Registration Deadline May 22, 2020
$15 registration fee and $10,000 cash prizes
2-day tribal fishing permit required
Tag turn in 4-6pm each tournament day

Day 1
Sunrise 6:19am – Start Fishing 5:19am
Sunset 8:34pm – Stop Fishing 9:34pm
Day2
Sunrise 6:19am – Start Fishing 5:19am
Sunset 8:35pm – Stop Fishing 9:35pm

TIM HILL MEMORIAL
JULY 11-12, 2020
Registration Deadline July 10, 2020
$15 registration fee and $10,000 cash prizes
2-day tribal fishing permit required
Tag turn in 4-6pm each tournament day

Day 1
Sunrise 6:23am – Start Fishing 5:23am
Sunset 8:47pm – Stop Fishing 9:47pm
Day2
Sunrise 6:24am – Start Fishing 5:24am
Sunset 8:47pm – Stop Fishing 9:47pm

QUALLA COUNTRY
SEPTEMBER 5-6, 2020
Registration Deadline September 4, 2020
$15 registration fee and $20,000 cash prizes
2-day tribal fishing permit required
Tag turn in 4-6pm each tournament day

Day 1
Sunrise 7:05am – Start Fishing 6:05am
Sunset 7:50pm – Stop Fishing 8:50pm
Day2
Sunrise 7:06am – Start Fishing 6:06am
Sunset 7:49pm – Stop Fishing 8:49pm

(CANCELLED) RUMBLE IN THE RHODODENDRON
NOVEMEBER 7-8, 2020
Registration Deadline Octobers, 2020
2-man team fly-fishing
Call 828-497-9300 to register this tournament
$300 entry fee and $10,000 cash prizes
Day 1
Sunrise 6:58am
Sunset 5:28pm
Day2
Sunrise 6:59am
Sunset 5:28pm

*** Tribal Catch & Keep Enterprise Waters closed to EVERYONE (including enrolled members) starting Saturday, March 14 through Friday, March 27, 2020. Opening day is Saturday, March 28, 2020.

Register & Buy permit at www.fishcherokee.com or from local permit vender in Cherokee.
Big Cove Grocery 7260 Big Cove Road, Cherokee, NC 28719
Big Don’s Place 964 Big Cove Road, Cherokee, NC 28719
BJ’s Gas & Gifts 1607 Acquoni Road, Cherokee, NC 28719
Cherokee Home Cent er 1623 Acquoni Road, Cherokee, NC 28719
Cherokee Welcome Center 498 Tsali Blvd., Cherokee, NC 28719
Indian Creek Campground 1367 Bunches Creek Road, Cherokee, NC 28719
KOA Camping Resort 92 KOA Campground Road, Cherokee, NC 28719
Cherokee Mini Mart 1340 Tsali Blvd., Cherokee, NC 28719
Outpost Trading 4768 Hwy 74W, Whittier, NC 28789
River Valley Store 3160 Big Cove Road, Cherokee, NC 28719
River s Edge Outfitters 61 Big Cove Road, Cherokee, NC 28719
Shell 1403 {Casino Mart) SlO Paint Town Road, Cherokee, NC 28719
Shell 1406 (Hwy 19) 120S Seven Clans Lane, Cherokee, NC 28719
Tuckaseegee Fly Shop 3 Depot Street, Bryson City, NC 28713
Wolf Campground 102 Acree Drive, Cherokee, NC 28719
Yogi in the Smokies Campground 317 Galamore Bridge Road, Cherokee, NC 28719

All legal fishing methods apply. Call 828-497-4131 to report fishing violations.

Fishing hours: 1 hour prior to sunrise until 1 hour after sunset.

Stocking: Tagged fish are stocked in all rivers, streams and ponds within the Catch & Keep Enterprise Waters for each respective tournament. Tagged fish are not stocked in the catch & release trophy fly­ fishing waters.

Requirements for cash prize distribution. Must:
*sign a W-9 Form (forms available at tag turn in location)
*show proof of tournament registration
*show proof of 2-day fishing permit covering both tournament days
*submit tag from tagged fish caught, fish not required
*Or, bring your fish in for photos, we post pictures on Facebook/fishcherokee

Tag turn in times: 4-6 pm each tournament day

Tag turn in location: Natural Resources Enforcement Office, 517 Sequoyah Trail, Cherokee NC 28719; off Hwy 441, across the road from Cherokee Welcome Center.

Fish Permits Cost:
1-day permit $10
2-day permit $17
3-day permit $27

5-day permit $47
Annual permit $250

1-3 day Special Use Fly-fishing (trophy waters) $25
Annual Special Use Fly-fishing (trophy waters) $75

Catch & Release Enterprise Waters: The 2.2 miles of trophy waters on Raven Fork require a daily tribal fish permit and a special use fly-fishing permit. Open year round.

Free Drawing for an all-inclusive fishing permit ($325 value):
2020 fishing tournament season
1 permit to be issued per tournament (fishcherokee tournaments only)
Free, no purchase required
Must be 12 years old or older to enter
Do not have to be registered in tournament to enter
1 entry per person per tournament
Do not have to be present to win
Entry forms will be available between 4-6pm at tag turn in location during tournaments
Drawing will be held at 6pm on last day of each tournament
Permit is non-transferrable
Permit it non-renewable

EBCI ENROLLED MEMBERS can use their tribal enrollment card as fishing permit. Registration Is required for tournaments.

EBCI SPOUSES AND 1ST DECSENDANTS can obtain a free, special use permit to fish Enterprise Waters by submitting required documentation to the Fisheries & Wildlife Management office located at the Tribal Utilities (Brad) Building on Hwy 19. Call 828-359-6110 for additional information. Permits are valid for one year. Registration fees are required for tournament entries (www.fishcherokee.com or from a local vendor).

Fishing will be open to the general public on Friday, May 15, 2020.

Under Executive Orders #11 & #12 (2020), issued by Principal Chief Richard Sneed, fishing in Cherokee NC will open to the public starting Friday, May 15, 2020.

  • Cloth face coverings will not be mandatory while fishing.
  • Social distancing requirements remain in place.
  • Stocking of all enterprise waters will resume prior to the May 15th opening date.
  • Fishing permits may be purchased on-line at fishcherokee.com or from a local fishing permit vendor.
  • It is recommended that the purchase of fishing permits for closure dates be avoided, as refunds will not be issued for those dates.
  • The Memorial Day Fishing Tournament is cancelled and will not be rescheduled.
  • Annual permits will not be extended due to Enterprise Waters being closed during a State of Emergency shut down.
  • Sportsmen who purchased the tournament registration fee and the two-day corresponding fishing permits for the Opening Day Fishing Tournament and/or the Memorial Day Fishing Tournaments have the option to use those permits at the Tim Hill Memorial Fishing Tournament scheduled for July 11th & 12th, 2020. Permits may be presented to staff at the tag turn-in location during the July tournament for verification.  Invalid permits may result in a citation being issued.

Permit validation will include the following:

Opening Day Fishing Tournament Registration Fee               $15

2-day Fishing Permit dated March 28-29, 2020                     $17

Or,

Memorial Day Fishing Tournament Registration Fee             $15

2-day Fishing Permit dated May 23-24, 2020                        $17

 

Refund requests for the above-mentioned permits/registration fees may be considered upon written request to the Fisheries & Wildlife Management Office at PO Box 1747, Cherokee, NC 28719.  Documentation submittal required for refunds are: (1) a written request for a refund; (2) the permit; (3) sportsman contact information; (4) a signed W-9 Form.   Refund decisions will be processed after the tribe re-opens and staff return to duty.  Projected staff return will be Monday, June 8, 2020.

For additional information contact:

www.visitcherokeenc.com for a listing of hotels and campgrounds in Cherokee NC.

www.fishcherokee.com for on-line fishing permits and information.

Facebook.com/fishcherokee for fishing information updates.

 

The EBCI Fisheries & Wildlife Management team would like to thank you for your patience, understanding and well wishes during the mandated closure of the Cherokee Indian Qualla Boundary and enterprise fishing waters.  Working together, we made a difference in keeping the number of covid-19 cases at a minimum.  Help us keep up the good work by following the requirements of social distancing, frequent hand washing and the use of hand-sanitizer.  We look forward to seeing you in Cherokee soon.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians remain under a state of emergency and key metrics related to COVID-19 will continue to be monitored.  Restrictions may be reinstated or new ones implemented if trends indicate the need.

Reference: Cherokee Code Chapter 166, Article II, the Declaration of State of Emergency issued March 13, 2020, and accompanying executive orders, supplements, and amendments to that Declaration.

 

Fisheries & Wildlife Management
3/17/2020
4/20/2020
4/28/2020

5/8/2020

  • 2020 OPENING DAY FISHING TOURNAMENT – CANCELLED.
    2020 MEMORIAL DAY FISHING TOURNAMENT – CANCELLED.
  • 2020 RUMBLE IN THE RHODODENDRON TOURNAMENT – CANCELLED

The above 2020 fishing tournament cancellations are due to the Covid-19 threat, the State-of-Emergency declaration, and the efforts to protect members of the tribe and the general public.

Fishermen who have purchased the tournament registration fee and the two-day corresponding fishing permits for the Opening Day Fishing Tournament or the Memorial Day Fishing Tournaments have the option to use those permits at the Tim Hill Memorial Fishing Tournament scheduled for July 11th & 12th, 2020. This is dependent upon the re-opening of the Qualla Boundary and public access at that time. Permits may be presented to staff at the tag turn-in location during the July tournament for verification.

Permit validation will include the following:
Opening Day Fishing Tournament Registration Fee $15
2-day Fishing Permit dated March 28-29, 2020 $17
Or,
Memorial Day Fishing Tournament Registration Fee $15
2-day Fishing Permit dated May 23-24, 2020 $17

Refund requests for the above-mentioned permits/registration fees may be considered upon written request to the Fisheries & Wildlife Management Office at PO Box 1747, Cherokee, NC 28719. Documentation submittal required for refunds are: (1) a written request for a refund; (2) a copy of the permit; (3) contact information; (4) a signed W-9 Form. Refund decisions will be processed after the tribe re-opens and staff return to duty. Deadline for refund requests is Friday, July 10, 2020.

Annual permits will not be extended due to Enterprise Waters being closed during a State of Emergency shut down.

We encourage everyone to immediately report sightings of fishing violations by calling (828) 497-4131.  All anglers are subject to Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian’s fishing laws & regulations.