Fishing’s more fun when you follow the rules.

Fishing in Cherokee, or within what’s known as the Qualla Boundary, is infinitely more fun when you do it the right way. Please review our Code of Ordinances Section 113, which provides an in-depth review of the rules and regulations that must be followed.

What if I have questions?

Hopefully, the answers below in our Frequently Asked Questions will help you have a great time fishing.

Enterprise Waters include most of the main stems of Raven Fork, the Oconaluftee River, and Soco Creek. All remaining waters on Cherokee’s Qualla Boundary may only be fished by members of the Tribe and are off-limits to the general public.

All enterprise waters are a shared resource.



  • Permits are required to fish all Cherokee Enterprise Waters on the Qualla Boundary (the Cherokee reservation).
  • Only a Tribal permit is required to fish within the Boundary.
  • If you are fishing outside the Boundary you must have a valid state fishing license.
  • Many local businesses in Cherokee are authorized outlets for fishing permits.
  • The permit applies to Enterprise Waters only, which are managed by the Cherokee Fisheries and Wildlife Management Program.

A Tribal fishing permit is required for each person 12 years of age and over, and applies to rivers, streams, and ponds. No other fishing permit or license is accepted. Children under 12 are allowed to fish free of charge when accompanied by a permitted adult.

Daily permits (catch-and-keep): 1-day $10 | 2-day $17 | 3-day $27 | 5-day $47 | annual permit $250

Tribal special use permit (2.2 miles of trophy trout waters, catch-and-release only): 1-3 day $25 | annual permit $75 | must be purchased with a general Tribal fishing permit


The last Saturday in March is designated as opening day for all general fishing enterprise waters and the fishing season is closed to everyone two weeks prior to that date. The 2.2 miles of trophy trout fly-fishing waters on Raven Fork remain open year round.

Fishing hours are from one hour prior to sunrise until one hour after sunset.

There is a ten (10) fish, per day, per permit holder limit in the general fishing waters (includes catch of children ages 11 and under fishing under a supervising adult’s permit).

Re-releasing fish into ponds is prohibited.

This permit allows holders to use the designated 2.2 miles of trophy trout area on Raven Fork. This area is fly-fishing, catch and release only and is open year round.  The cost is $25 for one to three days, or $75 per year. Please note that this section of fishing waters requires both a general fishing permit and a special use permit. All general fishing regulations apply to the special use permit, as do the following special use regulations within the catch-and-release area:

  • Tackle is limited to fly rods, reels, and line with a maximum of 18 feet of leader material or monofilament line attached.
  • Only artificial flies and streamers constructed of natural or synthetic material on a single, barbless hook are permitted.
  • Fishing with multiple flies attached to a single line (droppers) is permitted.
  • Catching and removing any live fish.
  • Killing trout and/or keeping in your possession.
  • Use of any spin-and-bait casting rods, reels, lures, or tackle.
  • The use or possession of any natural bait, fish bait, bait paste, and similar substances; fish eggs (natural or molded); or any other edible substance.
  • Fishing without a valid Tribal fishing permit.
  • Snagging of fish.
  • Grabbing of fish.
  • Chumming of fish.
  • Failure to produce a valid license and/or permit(s).

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians currently hosts four annual tagged fishing tournaments each year. Many tournament anglers are familiar with this system, in which colored tags are used that contain the month and year, and are placed just under the fish’s dorsal fin. Once a fish is caught and the tags are claimed, the tags may be redeemed for cash at the Natural Resources Enforcement Office, 517 Sequoyah Trail, Cherokee, NC 28719. Please note that the redemption period for prizes is 2:00-4:00 p.m. each tournament day. Fish are not required at the tag turn-in location at this time. Tags are not accepted outside the respective tournament tag turn in dates and times. Updates may be posted at during tournaments and throughout the year.

Before receiving your tournament payout, potential prize winners must:

  1. Turn in a valid tag (fish not required).
  2. Present a valid fishing permit covering both tournament days.
  3. Provide proof of tournament registration.
  4. Sign a W-9 form. This requires a social security number. One form, per winner, per tournament. Parents may sign for minor children. Forms available on site.

Fair warning, this is where things start to sound a little more technical and legal—well, because fishing penalties are. The following isn’t a complete list of violations and their corresponding penalties. (Please see the Cherokee Code for additional information, Appendix A, Schedule of civil penalties.)

Violations of the provisions enumerated here shall subject the offender to a civil penalty upon the issuance of a citation for such violation as provided in this Section. The civil penalty, if not paid to the Cherokee Tribal Court prior to the court date designated on the citation issued, may be recovered by the Tribe in a civil action in the nature of Tribal debt. Unless otherwise provided by a specific provision of this Code, such civil penalties shall be in the amount of $100.00 for each violation, and each day any single violation continues shall be a separate violation. The following civil penalties are hereby established:

Infractions §113-5(c)
Number Offense Fine for Violation
1. Exceeding creel limit (violation) $100.00
2. Fishing without a permit 100.00
3. Snagging of fish 100.00
4. Grabbing of fish 100.00
5. Chumming of fish 100.00
6. Fishing with more than one line 100.00
7. Setting of trotline 200.00
8. Fishing in closed streams, ponds, or waters 100.00
9. Fishing before or after legal fishing hours 100.00
10. Failure to keep individual’s catch separate 50.00
11. Failure to retain all trout caught, when fishing Tribally managed ponds 100.00
12. Illegally caught trout 50.00
13. An additional fine for each fish caught in violation of statutes 50.00
14. Camping in unauthorized areas 100.00
15. Failure to report a bait site, per bait site 100.00
16. Illegal cutting of wood or timber 75.00
17. Hunting on Sunday 75.00
18. Hunting or fishing without the proper license 100.00
19. Failure to produce valid license and/or permit 25.00
20. Failure to wear hunter orange while hunting (does not apply to fishing) 25.00
21. Use or possession of illegal bait 100.00
22. Use of improper equipment 100.00
23. Running dogs out of season 100.00
24. Failure to report to NREO 100.00
25. Bribing or attempted bribery of a Natural Resources Enforcement Officer 100.00
26. Removing and/or destroying tracking devices or identification collars from dogs 100.00

Note: In addition to all fines, court costs shall be assessed and added in amounts determined by the courts. All other offenses are criminal violations, and offenders within the criminal jurisdiction will be charged in Tribal Court; those outside the Tribe’s jurisdiction will be referred to the United States for prosecution. (Ord. No. 277, 5-12-2008; Ord. No. 427, 12-10-2010)

We encourage everyone to immediately report sightings of fishing violations by calling 828.497.4131. All anglers are subject to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ fishing laws and regulations, so please help to keep Cherokee a great fishing environment for everyone.

General fishing enterprise waters opening day is always the last Saturday in March, and will be closed to everyone two weeks prior to that date. Cherokee’s Annual Opening Day Fishing Tournament is held during this weekend—two days of fishing fun and competition.

The 2.2 mile catch-and-release trophy fly-fishing enterprise waters are open year round.

Currently, the EBCI Natural Resources Department plans to host a variety of special events and tournaments throughout the year. Those plans include several tagged tournaments, with individual cash prizes ranging from $25 all the way up to $5,000. There are also plans for fly-fishing events, events for kids, and more. Please check the Events page for full schedules, news, and details as they become available. Additionally, information may be found at Visit us on our fishcherokee Facebook page for more frequent updates and news.

EBCI Enterprise waters are a shared resource.

Regular stocking takes place weekly with no set day throughout the year.  Stocking requires optimal water conditions for the good health and longevity of the fish. You can learn more about stocking under “stocking information” on the “services” page or call 828-359-6960 for additional information.

Cherokee offers three handicapped-accessible ramps conveniently located in Enterprise Waters. You can find the first ramp in Cherokee’s Downtown, near Oconaluftee Islands Park on Acquoni Road; another on Hwy 441 across from Paul’s Restaurant; and the last is located at the Big Cove ponds outside the KOA campground.

An email address allows the new permitting system to email a copy of the receipt and permit to the customer at the email on file when creating an account. Emails are required for all customers. Each customer age 12 and over must set up an account. Anyone under the age of 18 must get parental approval to enter information into this site. Customers: New permit system in place. An email address is required online or in-store to allow system to email an electronic copy of your receipt and permit to you. Notice: Login errors may occur if angler had multiple sportman accounts in old (legacy) system. CONTACT CUSTOMER SUPPORT CENTER (855) 941-1855 FOR ASSISTANCE. Customer service responses may be delayed due to high volumes of calls.


This refund policy is subject to the Permit Service Agreement. Unless otherwise provided by law or by a particular service offer, all purchases are final and non-refundable. Purchasers are responsible for purchasing the correct permit to fish Cherokee Enterprise Waters and need to carefully select the correct dates for any planned fishing trip during the purchasing process. Incorrect purchasing procedures and selections may result in additional charges to the purchaser and may result in duplicates or incorrect permit dates. Permit dates cannot be changed after purchase and the resulting additional charges are non-refundable.

The purchaser is defined as the product or service buyer who submits payment with US legal currency from his or her banking or credit card institute. Purchaser responsibilities, include but are not limited to:
• Selecting correct fishing dates for the permit(s).
• Verifying all selections prior to submitting payment.
• Submitting valid payment for selected permit or service.
• Contacting their bank or credit card agency to request removal or reversal of any duplicate charges.
• Submitting refund requests within established deadlines for authorized refunds.

Cancelled or revoked permits are deemed invalid and may not be used as a valid permit after such cancellation or revocation. Use of a canceled or revoked permit after it has been cancelled or revoked may result in fines, suspension of purchasing or fishing privileges, or other remedy as deemed appropriate by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) Natural Resources Department (NRD) or Natural Resources Enforcement.

Refund requests must be received in the NRD office no later than 60 days from the date of purchase. NRD reserves the right to issue refunds at their sole discretion. If a refund is issued, NRD is under no obligation to issue the same or similar refund in the future.

Refunds are not issued for:
1) Purchaser error (includes duplicate permits and incorrect dates entered by purchaser).
2) Processing fees.
3) Revoked or cancelled permits. (Revoked or cancelled permits must be repurchased)
4) Permits cancelled or refunded at local Licensed Sales Agent locations

Refunds may be issued for:
(1) Fish permit system errors.
(2) Cancelled EBCI Tournaments, which may include:
a. $15 registration fee, and
b. $17 2-day permit covering both tournament days.
c. Total $32/registration.

Documentation required for a refund request:
(1) A written request for a refund (specify reason),
(2) Copy of permit,
(3) Required backup documentation:
a. Tribal Sportsman Number or Date of Birth,
b. Full Legal Name,
c. Mailing Address,
d. Physical Address (if different from mailing address),
e. Valid Telephone Number,
f. Email Address,
g. A signed W-9 Form,
h. Official denial notice from purchaser’s bank or credit card provider.

Submit refund requests to:
EBCI Natural Resources Department
Attention: Fish Permit Refunds
P.O. Box 1747
Cherokee, NC 28719, or
Call (828) 359-6110 for assistance

The Natural Resources Department will review and verify refund requests.
• Refund request submittals have a deadline. Required documentation, including additional requested information, not received by NRD within the 60-day deadline time frame will result in the refund request being denied.
• Refund requests will be reviewed for compliance. Compliance includes, but is not limited to, the receipt of required documentation and proof.
• Non-compliance will result in a denial.
• Misleading or incomplete information will result in a denial.
• A notice of approval or denial will be issued to the purchaser after reviewing the documentation submitted by the purchaser.
• If approved, the purchaser will be issued a refund in an authorized amount depending on the purchase(s) made. Allow 4-6 weeks for refund processing.
• If denied, the reason will be communicated with the purchaser.
• The NRD’s decision is final. Additional refund requests for the same purchased product or service will not be considered.

Changes to this Refund Policy
Updates to this policy may occur from time to time to reflect current practices and ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations. When changes to this policy occur, we will revise the “Last Updated” date at the top of this policy. We recommend checking this page from time to time to inform yourself of any changes.


Vist our Fish Cherokee Facebook page.

Want to purchase a permit for a child, family member, or that favorite angler?

Customers may Add Another Customer under thier account to make purchases on thier behalf. Available online only. Other customer must have an account in system.

Want to surprise that special angler with a fishing permit? Try the gift certificate option.

Purchase of gift certificates are available. Sign in under your account or sign in as a guest to make purchase. Visit, click on “Buy a Permit” and select “gift certificate.” Recipient must have an active Fish Cherokee permit account. Gift certificate funds will show on the recipient’s account and may be used during a permit purchase. Add additional funds to the gift certificate as needed.

Login errors may occur if angler/customer had multiple accounts in old (legacy) system or if relevant information is missing.

Multiple accounts may be merged into one account. Contact Customer Service for assistance at 855-941-1855. Responses may be delayed due to high volumes of calls.

CONTACT CUSTOMER SUPPORT CENTER (855) 941-1855 FOR ASSISTANCE. Customer service responses may be delayed due to high volumes of calls.