Places to visit IN THE SMOKIES

Fontana Lake webcam

Fontana Lake Has Been Called the Best-kept Secret in the Mountains


The 29-mile long, 11,700-acre Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) lake has more than 240 miles of shoreline. And its deep, cold waters provide the ideal habitat for a variety of fish. In fact, record size muskie and walleye have been pulled from its depths. And many believe it’s one of the best smallmouth bass fishing lakes in the country, including the Fisherman’s Bass Tournament Circuit, which held its annual Hall of Fame Classic at Fontana in Fall 2001.

Fontana Lake is unique in many ways. Unlike most lakes in the area, shoreline development has been kept to a minimum. More than 90 percent of the land around the Lake is owned by either the National Park Service or the US Forest Service. Maps of the Lake are available at local fishing stores.

Those fortunate enough to go boating on Fontana Lake have a unique perspective of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At places the view is unobstructed from the lake level to the top of towering Clingmans Dome, the Park's highest peak.

There are a number of private marinas where you can rent a boat, or put your own boat on the lake. You'll find knowledgeable staff, and plenty of boating and fishing supplies. Shuttle service is offered to Eagle Creek and Hazel Creek - two north shore locations where you can spend time fishing, hiking, exploring and camping in the National Park. For public access areas, see far right column.

The Dam is Famous But Trout and Muskie Are Cheoah's Main Attractions

Cheoah Lake was formed in 1919 and is the oldest dam on the Little Tennessee River. Cheoah is 644 acres and 9.5 miles long. At the time it was built, it was the world’s tallest overflow dam at 225 feet and had the largest turbines in the world. Cheoah Dam was made famous in the 1993 movie “The Fugitive” in which Harrison Ford "jumped" from the top of the dam to avoid capture by Tommy Lee Jones. Today the dam is referred to as the “Fugitive Dam”.

Cheoah is fed largely by the tailrace of Fontana Dam, which provides a constant flow of clear, cold water that remains at consistent temperatures year around. The ultra cold water environment is perfectly suited for trout and muskie, both of which are stocked by the state of North Carolina. Rainbow, brown, and brook trout call Cheoah home, with some trout reaching several pounds. Muskie were recently stocked by the state and have taken well to their new home. With plenty of trout to feed upon, the muskie are growing at rapid rates.

Bordered by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Forest Service, Cheoah Lake's shores remain undeveloped and pristine. There is only one boat access ramp – Llewellyn Branch – at the upstream end of the lake, just below Fontana Dam. This ramp and adjacent fishing pier are both handicapped accessible. Because the lake is fairly narrow you won't see much in the way of pleasure boat or jet ski traffic, only the occasional fisherman in search of trout and muskie.

The upper stretch of the lake fishes much like a tailwater river, and a close eye on generation schedules from Fontana Dam is highly advisable.


Everything You Want To Know About Fishing in the North Carolina Smokies


Marinas and Boating on Smoky Mountains Lakes - Fontana and Cheoah Lake Fishing Guides

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Endless River Adventures - Fishing

14157 Hwy 19 W
Bryson City, NC 28713
Local 828-488-6199
TF 800-224-RAFT (7238)
Fax 828-488-2259
Endless River Adventures offers full and half-day fly fishing adventures for both beginning and experienced anglers. Options include float trips on the Nantahala River, as well as wade trips on the Upper Nantahala for trout; float and wade trips on the Tuckasegee River and Little Tennessee River for trout and small mouth bass. All equipment, rods, reels, waders and wading boots are included. Over 20 years experience in Western North Carolina. Licensed by the US Forest Service. Complete fly fishing shop.

Alarka Boat Dock

Contact: Tony Sherrill
7230 Grassy Branch Rd
Bryson City, NC 28713
Phone 828-488-3841
Located on Fontana Lake in Swain County NC, Alarka Boat Dock is a one stop source for boat/pontoon put-in, Fontana Lake History Tours, fishing guides, and boat or pontoon rentals. Dock-slips available for boats and pontoon storage. Fishing supplies, ice, bait, snacks, gas and oil, t-shirt and caps, also boat supplies. Lake fishing and trout stream guides available upon request.

Smoky Mountain Outdoors Unlimited

Contact: Ronnie Parris
1012 E Alarka Rd
Bryson City, NC 28713
Phone 828-488-9711
Mobile 828-736-9471
Smoky Mountain Outdoors Unlimited Guided fishing & camping trips. We offer fly fishing, spin fishing, lake fishing, camping and boathouse camping trips. All bait and equipment is furnished. A shore lunch is provided for full-day trips. Half day trips are also available. Open year round.

Almond Boat & RV Park

Contact: Jim & Jo Mathis
1165 Almond Boat Park Rd
Bryson City, NC 28713
Phone 828-488-6423
Fax 828-488-8175
Located on Fontana Lake in the Great Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina, Almond Boat and RV Park invites you to "Come relax and enjoy the Smokies!" We offer pontoon rentals, boat rentals, cabin rentals, RV park rentals, boat storage, bait, fishing and hunting licenses. Located ten miles outside of Bryson City, NC on a paved road with easy access for motorcyclists and RVs.

Nantahala On The Fly

Contact: Dakota Rogers
12121 Hwy 19 West
Bryson City, NC 28713
Phone 828-736-0784
Phone 828-361-9386
TF 800-468-7238
Specializing in fishing the waters of Western North Carolina. We offer fly fishing trips for the beginner to the expert level fisherman on all the most popular streams. Wade or float trips are offered for full or half day with lunch included. Let us help you plan the trip of your dreams. All equipment provided. Camping Cabins available. Nantahala On The Fly is a Carolina Outfitters, Inc. Company licensed by the US Forest Service.

Fontana Marina

300 Woods Rd.
Fontana Dam, NC 28733
Phone 828-498-2129
Fontana Marina Fontana Marina offers a full line of services for the enjoyment of Fontana Lake including watercraft rentals, free boat launch, a ship store, fishing tackle and license, lake tours and more. Pontoon boat shuttle service is available for backcountry enthusiasts wishing to explore the southern rim of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

153 Charters

Contact: Cpt. James McManus
2013 East Fork Rd.
Sylva, NC 28779
Phone 828-421-8125
Complete Fishing Guide service. Specializing in area lakes for Bass, Walleye and Trout. Thirty years experience at Fontana Lake. Can take anyone from novice to expert. We provide all bait, tackle, lunch, drinks and snacks. Top of the line equipment, Lowrance Units, Minn Kota, Penn, Abu Garcia, 22' Panga CC w/145 Yamaha. USCG Licensed

Fontana Guide Service - Fishing

Contact: Kyle Fronrath
3336 Balltown Rd.
Bryson City, NC 28713
Mobile 828-736-2318
Fontana Guide Service - Fishing We'll show you the best fishing in the rivers & lakes of the Smoky Mountains. Fish with International Game Fish Association Professional Guides. Half day & full day trips. Pontoon boat, kayak & paddle board, wade & walk, and night fishing trips offered year round. Choose fly fishing or spinning tackle with top of the line gear. We provide everything. We have a trip for any skill level or budget. HD photos & videos of your trip available upon request. Ask about our lodging packages.

Fly Fishing the Smokies

Contact: Eugene Shuler
Po Box 291
Bryson City, NC 28713
Phone 828-488-7665
Phone 828-421-0172
Fly Fishing the Smokies Discover the majestic streams and mountains while enjoying a day of guided fly fishing with some of the Great Smoky Mountains best fly fishing guides. Since 1999, we have guided anglers of all ages and skill levels to some of the most beautiful trout streams in all of the southeastern United States. We offer wade trips, float trips, our signature beginner classes, backcountry camping and the option of half-day and full-day trips. We have something for everyone and for every budget.

Fontana Guide Service

Contact: Kyle Fronrath
3336 Balltown Rd
Bryson City, NC 28713
Mobile 828-736-2318
Fontana Guide Service Be our guest on beautiful Fontana Lake. Relax and enjoy breathtaking views, sunsets, waterfalls, rivers and wildlife from our spacious pontoon boat. Choose a half or full day trip of any kind, or customize your own. Fishing, sightseeing, sunset, swimming, & fall leaf trips available. Great for birthday parties, corporate groups, honeymooners, & families, with something for every budget. Dogs welcome! HD photos & videos of your trip available on request. Let us guide your one-of-a-kind Fontana Lake experience.

Blue Chip Fly Fishing

Contact: Eddie Hudon
PO Box 1160
Whittier, NC 28789
Phone 561-685-1735
Phone 954-263-4452
Fly fishing guide service. Having fun while promoting the sport of fly fishing.

Smoky Mountain Adventures, Inc.

Contact: Steve Claxton
Phone 828-736-7501
With over 20 years in the guide industry, Smoky Mountain Adventures specializes in creating a memorable fishing experience. Whether it's backcountry camping & fishing for wild trout, or a day trip learning the art of fly fishing, we have the expertise & patience to give you a trip you will remember for a lifetime. We offer half-day, full-day, & multi-day trips on all area streams, rivers & lakes to fish for trout, walleye, smallmouth & largemouth. Let us customize an unforgettable trip for you!

Tuckaseegee Fly Shop

Contact: Dale Collins
3 Depot Street
Bryson City, NC 28713
Mobile 336-847-1234
Bryson City NC's only full service fly shop! We are your headquarters for local fly patterns, fly fishing gear, guided trips, and fly fishing advice. We carry products from many well known vendors such as Redington, Rio, Catch Fly Fishing, Montana Fly Company, Scientific Angler, Umpqua, TFO Fly Rods, Chota, Brodin Nets, Simms Logo Apparel, and our very own Tuckaseegee Fly Shop logo hats and shirts. We welcome all locals and travelers to stop in and say hi!

AB's Fly Fishing Guide Service

Contact: Alex Bell
60 Bristol Drive
Sylva, NC 28779
Mobile 828-226-3833
A premier guide service located in the beautiful Smoky mountains of Western NC - the most picturesque trout waters east of the Mississippi River. We accommodate the serious angler as well as the beginner. Learn when and where to catch trout while taking in the soothing waters of Western NC. We are committed to making this your best experience on the water.

Root Hog Fishing Guide Service

Contact: Dwight Pigman
PO Box 375
Bryson City, NC 28713
Phone 828-862-7958
We are a licensed fishing guide service with over 25 years of guide experience. We are available for 8, 6, and 4-hour fishing excursions for up to 4 people maximum per trip, 7 days a week, year-round. Call us for more information on available times and for reservations and scheduling information.

Fontana Dam itself is an engineering marvel. When completed in November 1944 to produce electricity for the war effort, the 480-foot-high dam became the highest in the Eastern United States and the fourth highest in the nation. The story of its origin is effectively portrayed at the Fontana Dam Visitor Center (Open May to November, 9 am – 7 pm, daily).

Annual Drawdown —Fontana is a man-made lake with lake levels controlled by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). From September - November TVA lowers lake levels 60-feet to allow for winter snows and spring rains. Fontana is a very deep lake, so even with lowered lake levels fishing is not compromised and public access ramps are open all year.

Public Boat Access Areas

Old 288 – From Bryson City. Take US 19 S to turn at SR 1323 (Slope St.; begins at bridge by Walgreens). Travel Slope St. .2 miles and turn left at the blinking light onto SR 1321 (Bryson Walk). Bryson Walk becomes Old 288. Travel 1.6 miles and turn left to follow the river continuing on Old 288 Travel .8 miles to the area at the end of the road.

There are picnic tables, restroom, covered pavilion, handicapped accessible ramp and fishing pier at this location.

Lemmons Branch – From Bryson City take US 19/74 West to NC 28 N (right turn towards Robbinsville). Follow NC 28 N about 3 miles to the site for the Tsali Recreation area. Turn right and follow signs to Lemmons Branch Boat Ramp. The ramp is handicapped accessible.

Cable Cove – From Bryson City take US/74 West to NC 28 N (right turn towards Robbinsville). Continue on approximately 20 miles (8.2 past the 143 turnoff). Turn right onto SR 1287 (Cable Cove). Go 1.5 miles to the end of the road.

Lewellyn Branch – On Cheoah Lake, just below Fontana Dam. From Bryson City take US 19/74 West to NC 28 N (right turn towards Robbinsville). Follow NC 28N about 25 miles, crossing the Little Tennessee River just below Fontana Dam. Both the ramp and a fishing pier are handicapped accessible.


Bryson City - Swain County
Chamber of Commerce

210 Main Street
P.O. Box 509
Bryson City, NC 28713


Karen Proctor Wilmot
Executive Director

800-867-9246 toll-free
828-488-3681 local
828-488-6858 fax