What to Know About a Fishing License For Gatlinburg and Tennessee

Information current as of August, 2019

To catch fish in the many waters of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you need a fishing license. These are different for residents and non-residents of Tennessee.  And there are age differences and some options. Here are all the things you need to know about fishing in Gatlinburg and the surrounding area of the Smoky Mountains.

The “release” part of fishing – image courtesy of Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

How much is a fishing license in Tennessee?

In general, for visitors and residents, aged under 13 requires no license. Ages 13-15 have less costly requirements than ages 16-64. Senior discounts begin at age 65.

Full annual licenses can range from $34 to $99, for resident versus visitor and for no-trout versus all-species. Visitors can purchase three-day and ten-day licenses for trout and all-species, as well as annual licenses. Residents can purchase one-day licenses as well, both for trout and all-species.

The combinations of licenses available and required for different applications are pretty extensive. You should check carefully to see which combination is best for you. See below under Purchasing Online for the state website current prices and requirements.

In June there’s a Free Fishing Day on the first Saturday of the first full week, followed by Free Fishing Week for kids aged 15 and younger.

How much is a fishing license in Gatlinburg TN?

Trout are stocked on Gatlinburg streams and both residents and visitors can get short-term permits that don’t require the full state license, but do require one of the partial state licenses. Gatlinburg also has no-fishing Thursdays to restock trout waters, and a “Catch-and-Release Only” season, December-March.

As with the state license, under-13 is free. For both residents and visitors, there’s a 1-day Trout Permit for $11.50, extendible to a 3-day permit at $21. These require additional state partial licenses also

Updated information is on the city’s website and you can also contact the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce, 1-800-568-4748 or the Gatlinburg Trout Facility at Herbert Holt Park, 865-436-4558.

What age is a fishing license required in Tennessee?

Tennessee residents or visitors, younger than 13, don’t need a fishing license. They are subject to the same regulations as adults, but also allowed the same limits. People who are assisting others to fish do need a license, however, so parents with young children should be careful to know where to draw this line. Tennessee seniors aged over 65 can get a discounted license.

Two of Gatlinburg’s public parks have streams designated for children only: Herbert Holt Park and Mynatt Park.

Can I purchase a fishing license online?

You can buy a fishing license online through the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency – look under Fishing Licenses. Keep that name handy because sometimes this website changes its links and you may have to search for it – it’s easy enough to find.

How long does a fishing license last?

Tennessee licenses last one year, going on sale on February 18 and last through the end of the following February. Licenses are not pro-rated if you purchase later in the year. There is also a variety of short-term licenses available for both residents and visitors.

Do I need a fishing license in Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

Great Smoky Mountains National Park allows fishing year round. Since the national park straddles both Tennessee and North Carolina, a fishing license from either state is valid for everywhere in the park. The states have different age requirements, and the validity of each license will depend on where you live or are staying, as noted above. Licenses are NOT sold in the national park (they’re available online and in lots of places in the adjacent towns). For more information, see our Fishing in Great Smoky Mountains National Park guide.

Do I need a fishing license in a national park?

Most national parks require the state license for fishing. They can also have their own rules and regulations, which can be different in different parts of the park, especially if it crosses a state line. Most parks will have guidelines about size of fish, lures and how and when to release a fish back into the water.

Park Rangers can be very strict about the rules, since the park mission is only partly to accommodate visitors, and very much to manage and preserve resources and wildlife populations.

Fishing nowadays is a regulated sport, and has to be, to protect fish habitats from depletion. Penalties for breaking the rules can sometimes be extremely high. It’s always best to know, and plan, in advance.

Also see our resource page on Fishing in Gatlinburg and our Fly Fishing Smoky Mountains guide.

About Tony Perez

Tony Perez

I'm a people person, and I enjoy the atmosphere that working with Cabins Of The Smoky Mountains entails, interacting with different types of people and trying to relate to each one uniquely. From Michigan originally, I've been coming to the Smoky Mountains since I was a child, with family in Wears Valley. Summer fun for me is exploring the Cades Cove area, swimming in the creeks, and hiking Mount LeConte and many other trails. I love the Smoky Mountains.