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Just Keep Fishing This Autumn and Winter in Tennessee

Posted: December 5th, 2017 by Bill Dance

The fall season can be one of the best times of year to fish Tennessee’s streams. The leaves are turning and the summer crowds have waned. You can often find a stretch of water all to yourself, surrounded by beautiful foliage and peaceful sounds of nature. So, don’t let the summer months make you think you have to put up your fishing pole for the season. Here in Tennessee, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has a few areas stocked with trout where you can enjoy a full day of catch and release. Keep reading for expert fishing tips.

Delayed Harvest Season

One of the programs the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has developed goes great with this time of year. It is called Delayed Harvest Season, a time where a section of a stream is stocked with trout in the fall. Harvest is not allowed until the following spring around the time the spring trout stocking seasons begins. In Tennessee, Delayed Harvest seasons end on the last day of February when the streams become open for harvest.

Trout stocked in Delayed Harvest streams are of quality size and are stocked in sufficient numbers to provide quality catch and release fishing. An additional benefit is the stocked fish will put on some growth over the winter providing for a boost in fishing quality once the spring season begins.

In Tennessee, we currently have Delayed Harvest streams in region 3: the Hiwassee, Tellico and Piney Rivers; and in region 4: Paint Creek in Cocke County.

The 147-mile river is home to large-mouth bass, brown and rainbow trout, yellow perch and catfish. You can flyfish and have some great success, or use other tackle that’s just as effective.

The Tellico River is 53 miles and stocked with rainbow trout averaging 8-12 inches. Nearly 30,000 acres of backcountry surround three rivers and their streams which are home to a great supply of brown, rainbow and brook trout.

Paint Creek

Set up your fishing gear on the banks of Paint Creek for a day of fishing for trout. Try your hand at fly fishing among the beautiful foliage thanks to the densely wooded, streamside campsites. It’s a great place for a family camping trip, located within the Cherokee National Forest.

The Hiwassee River, Paint Creek and Tellico River Delayed Harvest seasons begin Oct. 1 and end on the first day of February.

Piney River

The Piney River is more than 23 miles long and flows from the Duck River in Middle Tennessee. About an hour from Nashville will bring you to its beautiful cold, clear waters where plentiful amounts of trout can be found. The Delayed Harvest season on the Piney River begins on Nov. 1 and ends on the last day of February. The stocking of the Piney River is dependent upon water temps and is sometimes delayed, so keep checking the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Facebook page.


During the Delayed Harvest season, only artificial lures are permitted and the use or possession of bait is prohibited. Because these are catch and release fisheries, anglers are encouraged to use care in releasing fish. Having a landing net and forceps to remove hooks will aid in getting the fish back in the water quickly.

Delayed Harvest waters can be fished with the following licenses: Annual Hunting and Fishing Combo with an annual trout permit, a One-Day permit allows fishing all species, an Annual Sportsman license (including the senior type) and the Lifetime Sportsman. For non-residents any license type that includes trout can be used.

Until next month, have a great fall and catch one for me right here in Tennessee.

Bill Dance



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