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Fishing and Boating

Our public lands are a haven for fishing. Cold water, mountain streams are prime habitat for brown, rainbow and native brook trout. All national forest streams are “wild trout waters,” unless classified and posted otherwise. With several trout streams, Cherokee County has become a popular place for fly fishing. Trout fishing season lasts from April – February, which makes it a great activity for almost any time of the year.

For the angler looking for spotted bass, striped bass, hybrids, walleye, crappie, catfish, bluegill, large or smallmouth bass Lake Hiwassee, Lake Cherokee, or Appalachia offer those varieties.

If you need gear; visit Shook’s Marina, Duke’s Hideaway or Mountain View Marina to rent a boat. Or if you want a nearly foolproof way of bringing in that catch of the day utilize a guide service like Big ol’ Fish Guide Service or just want a leisurely tour check out Apalachia Lake Tours.

Also, check out the North Carolina Forest Service for the latest information on boating, swimming, tubing and water activities in our National Forests.


Apalachia Lake is a small, deep, cool-water reservoir nestled in the western North Carolina mountains.  The reservoir in its entirety is located solely within Cherokee County. The dam was designed and built to generate hydropower generation during World War II.  Adjacent to the Nantahala National Forest, the reservoir has very little private shoreline development and NO commercial recreation facilities. Apalachia is one of the most pristine lakes of unparalleled beauty offering fishing, canoeing, hiking and primitive camping recreation areas.  Because of the remote location, relatively few anglers use the reservoir. Sport fish include smallmouth bass, spotted bass, largemouth bass, redbreast sunfish and white bass.

Apalachia Lake
Apalachia Lake

Did you know???

  • Construction of the Apalachia Dam began in 1941 and took 2 years to complete.  The dam is 150 feet high and stretches 1,308 feet across the Hiwassee River.
  • Apalachia is a relatively small reservoir with 31 miles of shoreline and about 1,070 acres of water surface.
  • Apalachia is a run-of-river reservoir, meaning that water is passed through the reservoir without being stored long-term.
  • A public boat ramp is located below the Hiwassee Lake Dam at the TVA Powerhouse.  Fishing the shoreline is also accessed at this same location.

Hiwassee Lake is located on the Hiwassee River, stretching 22 miles through western North Carolina.  Surrounded by the Nantahala and Cherokee National Forests and is upstream from Lake Apalachia. With three marinas and numerous public access points, including Hanging Dog Recreation Area, Hiwassee Lake is easy to enjoy. Its location makes it an exceptionally beautiful location for recreation and serves as a rich habitat for deer, wild turkey and other wild animals. The flow of water in this reservoir comes from deep below the surface and can be refreshingly cool even on the warmest summer day.

Hiwassee Lake
Hiwassee Lake

Did you know???

  • Construction of Hiwassee Dam began in 1936 and took 4 years to complete.
  • The dam is 307 feet high and stretches 1,376 feet across the Hiwassee River.
  • You can easily locate the dam by entering 600 Powerhouse Road, Murphy, N.C. 28906 into your GPS.


Rivers in and near Cherokee County include the Hiwassee, Valley River, Nottley, Ocoee (Polk County, Tennessee) and Nantahala Rivers (Swain & Macon Counties).  The Hiwassee river is approximately 147 miles long. Its headwaters are in North Georgia but flows through Cherokee County turning westward to Tennessee ultimately flowing into the Tennessee river.  The Valley river begins as a pair of springs from within the Snowbird Mountains and flows southwest into the Hiwassee river. The town of Murphy is situated at the confluence of the Hiwassee and Valley rivers.  The rivers are a popular source of outdoor adventure including: white water rafting, kayaking, canoeing and fishing.

Valley River - Cherokee County | Copyright Cherokee Scout | Photo: Ben Katz
Valley River - Cherokee County | Copyright Cherokee Scout | Photo: Ben Katz

Did you know???

  • Cherokee County has few waterfalls because of our topography.  Most waterflow starts small in the higher elevation and at the point the waterflow can become a waterfall the elevation is not steep enough to create a fall.
  • North Shoal Creek, Leatherwood and Kennedy are small falls in our area but be careful because they all are near or on private property.

Trout Fishing Hot Spots in Cherokee County

Maps and current regulations of all trout waters and their classifications may be viewed at

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