Our primary water, the Hiwassee Scenic River, flows through the Cherokee National Forest below the Apalachia powerhouse on its way to the mighty Tennessee River. The Hiwassee River is unquestionably the best trout fishery in the Southeast, and quite possibly the best dry fly river in the eastern U.S. The Hiwassee boasts many major insect hatches including the Isonychia bicolor during the summertime. Every year the river yields trophy class rainbow and brown trout. Fall and winter fishing can be fantastic with the return of mayfly and caddis hatches and great streamer fishing for trophy trout.

Tellico river

Freestone Streams & Rivers: Tellico River & its tributaries; Citico Creek

The Tellico River is nationally recognized as a premiere trout stream. Trout habitat requirements include water temperatures below 68 degrees, heavy oxygenation and clean, clear water, and these conditions prevail in the Tellico River corridor.
Heavy stockings from March 15th through September 15th cover a 13-mile stretch on the upper Tellico River and big-fish potential occurs on the main river and on Citico Creek, one watershed to the north. Stocking from the Tellico trout hatchery is supported by special permits required to fish in designated waters. Stocked fish are generally larger than those stocked in Tennessee’s regular hatchery-supported waters, and some trout escape harvest for several years. Weekly releases of 5000 rainbows, averaging 8 to 12 inches, occur in season. Fishing this section requires a Tellico Citico permit (between March 15 thru September 15).
Bald River and North River, tributaries of the Tellico, are managed as wild trout streams with brown, rainbow and brook trout. Fishermen here enjoy unspoiled wilderness settings and, more often than not, no company from other anglers. Bald River Falls cascades over 80 feet, easily viewed from the roadside, where this tributary joins the Tellico River, and upriver from the falls you are likely to be rewarded with rainbows and browns. These wild trout streams usually lack large individuals, but some brown trout as large as 10 pounds have been caught in the North River.

North River

Dry fly fishing on the Tellico River

The diversity of the Tellico River corridor is one of its major appeals. You can choose to walk just steps from your car to the river, fish where the river meanders by your campsite, or hike the backcountry into a remote tributary stream. These waters can be fished year-round, with freezing temperatures not usually lasting more than a week. You can fly fish in December and January since some of the spring-fed streams stay at temperatures in the 40's or even low 50's. Insect hatches are predictable and often; extraordinary numbers emerge at some times.

Under an agreement with the USDA Forest Service and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) the Tellico River Corridor, as part of the Cherokee National Forest, is managed cooperatively as a Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The Forest Service is responsible for managing wildlife habitat and the TWRA sets game and fish seasons and bag limits.

Our Tailwaters: Hiwassee River

Hiwassee Scenic River

Telliquah Outfitters book guided float fishing trips using McKenzie drift boats. They are the Cadillacs of the river, and the best way to fly fish in first class comfort. All guided trips feature experienced professional fishing guides; top of the line, impeccably maintained boats and equipment; deluxe shore lunch, drinks and snacks.

The Hiwassee Scenic River is considered a tailrace fishery. The constant cold water temperatures, resulting from water being drawn from the bottom of the lake above the dam, provide for year-round trout fishing here.

Trout fishing on the Hiwassee can be good year round. Insects generally hatch, and the dry fly fishing can be good anytime waters are above 50° F. At others times streamer can be very productive. Most insect hatches occur April through November, but it is not uncommon to see baetis coming off on warm overcast January days. The winter midge fishing can be phenomenal.

The water generation schedule is an important factor to consider when planning a fishing trip on the Hiwassee. The river’s headwaters form on the north side of Unicoi Gap, in Towns County, Georgia. From there the Hiwassee drains 750,000 acres and flows 11 miles through an underground tunnel to Apalachia Powerhouse. The powerhouse controls the generators, running none, one or two. The Hiwassee is wadeable when the flow is low, and you’ll find canoes, drift boats, kayaks, small watercraft, and even float tubes on the river when the water level is up.


Fishing on the Hiwassee is primarily concentrated in the area around the town of Reliance. A float trip from the Apalachian Powerhouse to Reliance, which is six miles, provides for a full day of good fishing. This upper section boasts all major aquatic eastern insect hatches. Midge, caddis, stonefly and many mayfly species are present. This section is famous for its sulfur hatch in May and its Isonynchia in the summertime. The upper section of the Hiwassee also includes a 3-mile trophy section (artificial lures and flies only, 2 fish creel limit of 14” minimum length), established in January 1986.

The Apalachia Powerhouse


The middle section (from Reliance to Hwy 411) also usually fishes best early in the season: April, May and June. This is the easiest section for wading, but can also be floated with one turbine generation from the Powerhouse. This section is also predominantly known for its caddis hatches.

Additional area fishing waters include "warm water fisheries" Lower Tellico River and Tellico Lake.

Tellico & Hiwassee Rivers

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