As the leaves fall and the temperature drops, many anglers put away their fishing gear and wait for the warmer months to return. However, for those who love the thrill of the catch, winter can be a great time to go trout fishing in Tennessee.
At East Tennessee Fly Fishing, our team is often asked, “Is trout fishing good in winter?” We respond with a resounding YES! and eagerly provide some valuable tips and tricks for successful winter trout fishing.
TN Water Where Trout Fishing is Good in Winter
You can catch trout even in the colder months with the proper techniques and equipment. However, it’s essential to know where to look for them. Trout tend to congregate in deeper pools where the water is warmer and more oxygenated. Look for areas where streams or rivers flow into larger bodies of water, as these spots have a higher chance of holding fish. Additionally, trout tend to be less active in colder temperatures, so they may not be as quick to chase after bait or lures.
Here are some specific locations in Tennessee that are known for their winter trout fishing opportunities:
- Caney Fork River – Located near Nashville, this river is stocked with rainbow and brown trout year-round.
- South Holston River – This river spans from East Tennessee into Virginia and is known for its large population of brown trout.
- Watauga River – The Watauga River is located in Elizabethton, just outside of Johnson City, beginning at Wilbur Dam and flowing to Boone Lake. Rainbows and browns are most abundant, and some serious trophy fish can be found, even in winter.
- Clinch River – Another East Tennessee river, Clinch is stocked with rainbow and brown trout and offers some of the best winter fly fishing in the state.
- Elk River – Located in southern Tennessee, Elk River is known for its trophy-sized brown trout that are active even in colder temperatures.
- Abrams Creek – Feeding from Cades Cove and a tributary of the Little Tennessee River, this stream is easily accessible and teeming with brook, brown, and rainbow trout.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park – The most-visited national park in the United States, is one of the last wild trout habitats in the eastern end of the country and offers around 2,900 miles of streams. Trout thrive in approximately 20% of the park’s rivers, and fishing is allowed all year round.
Best Tips for Trout Fishing in Winter
Is trout fishing good in winter? You bet – but savvy fishermen know to equip themselves with the best gear for cold water fishing. This means dressing appropriately; layering is essential. For a winter day on Tennessee trout waters, we recommend thermal underwear, a fleece or wool sweater, and a waterproof outer layer to protect from wind and rain. Don’t forget warm gloves and a hat – keeping your extremities warm will make your fishing experience much more enjoyable.
Consider using live bait such as nightcrawlers or minnows to increase your chances of catching trout in the winter. This will entice the fish less likely to bite on artificial lures. If you prefer lures, use smaller ones mimicking natural prey like insects or small fish. Slow and steady retrieves are often more effective in colder water. We recommend:
- Jigging Tubes
- Trout Magnets
- Bubble & Fly combos
- Sinking Stickbaits
- Wide-bodied Spoons
If you’re new to Tennessee wintertime trout fishing, pair up with a guide from East Tennessee Fly Fishing. We offer float fishing and wading for trout in some of East Tennessee’s best trout waters and many other options.
While winter may not be the most popular time for fishing, it can still be a rewarding experience if you’re willing to brave the cold. These tips and tricks give you a better chance of catching trout during this season. So grab your gear, contact East Tennessee Fly Fishing, and head to one of these Tennessee hotspots to try your luck!