Cherokee tribal waters producing lots of nice trout

Brian Cope

August 06, 2012 at 11:50 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Alex Turnbull caught this nice rainbow trout from one of the ponds on Cherokee tribal land.
Brian Cope
Alex Turnbull caught this nice rainbow trout from one of the ponds on Cherokee tribal land.
From the purist fly fisherman to the casual pond angler, the Cherokee Indian Reservation has a variety of fishing for everyone. Cherokee Fish and Game Management annually stocks approximately 400,000 brook, brown and rainbow trout to the 30 miles of streams and six acres of ponds that make up the tribal fishing grounds.

And they’re biting in all of those waters.

The ponds offer easy access to trout of all sizes. With well-worn walking trails along the banks, parking lot, and nearby bathrooms, the calm waters are perfect for kids, handicapped anglers, the elderly, or anyone wanting to test out some lures or tactics in calm waters.

Though accessibility isn’t a problem, the hot weather currently has these trout shutting down not long after sunrise.

Young angler Alex Turnbull has had luck recently while suspending a whole nightcrawler under a cork and fishing near the deepest pools in the ponds. Almost 28 of the reservation’s 30 miles of streams have no bait or equipment restrictions. Mepps spinners, Roostertails and tiny crankbaits are producing good catches of fish. These fish are biting much better here than at the ponds.

Maurice Dais fishes these streams regularly and said when it’s hot, he catches his best fish by casting spinners into the roughest water he can find.

“Some people think it’s too rough, and that they’ll just lose their lures, but I catch my best fish in these spots,” said Dais, who pointed out that anglers shouldn’t ignore deep pools though, as the bigger brown trout like to hang out in calmer waters.

Cherokee’s prized water is the 2.2-mile section of stream set aside for fly-fishing only. This is strictly a catch-and-release area, and no live bait or conventional equipment is allowed.

According to Alexa Riggins, a part-time resident of Cherokee, fishing on this stretch is tough right now but worth it.

“Just about all these fish have been caught before. These are smart fish and they learn from their mistakes,” said Riggins, who has had her best luck by scaling down the size of her flies and fishing them under a strike indicator near rocky ledges. “I usually catch them in this section early in the mornings, but lately I’ve had my best luck in the evenings. Tiny black ant flies worked for me today, but it’s been different every day.”

A North Carolina fishing license is not required to fish these waters, but a tribal license is, and they are available from many retailers in the area. Outside the catch-and-release area, the limit is 10 trout per day.  


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