Many experienced anglers who have fished the premier trout waters of the United States consider the Clinch River tailwater to be one of the finest trout fisheries in the country. The clear, shallow, slow moving Clinch demands a stealth approach, delicate presentation, small flies and drag-free drifts. You can wade or drift in a boat.
Nestled in the mountains of East Tennessee, the Clinch tailwater is 13 miles in length and flows from Norris Dam, at River Mile 80, to the Highway 61 Bridge near Clinton, TN, at River Mile 67.
Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout and brook trout call the Clinch home. Almost all of the fish caught will be robust, wild, quality fish. The average trout will be 11 to 12 inches in length. Trout in the 14 to 16 inch range are common, and on most days one can reasonably expect to hook one or two fish in the 18 to 22 inch range. It is not unusual for a skilled angler to land a half dozen fish over 18 inches during the sulfur emergence in spring. Good mayflies typically hatch from May to June and a steady midge hatch can be predictable during the summer and winter months. The majority of the fisheries diets for the Clinch River consist of midges, black flies, sow bugs, scuds, and small caddis pupa. Also big streamers and terrestrials are always an effective alternative to dry fly fishing! Whether wading or floating; anglers can pursue dry fly, wet fly, or streamer fishing with spectacular trophy fish. The Clinch River Tail-water is stocked with rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout from March through September.
Fishing on the Clinch is good year round, but it is great in late winter, early spring and late fall, early winter.
Average fish run 7″ to 14″, while 18″ to 20″ trout are often taken. Rainbows comprise 80-90 percent of the catch. Almost all of the fish caught will be robust, wild, quality fish. Trout will average 11-12 inches in length. Fish in the 14 -16 inch range are common, and on most days one can reasonably expect to hook one or two fish in the 18-22 inch range. It is not uncommon for a skilled angler to land a half dozen fish over 18 inches during the sulfur emergence in spring. While rainbows comprise well over 80 per cent of the catch, browns do well in the river. The Tennessee state record brown, 28 pounds 12 ounces, was taken from the Clinch in the late 1980s. Browns over 30 pounds have been electroshocked and found dead by anglers. Spin fishermen float the river in boats during one- and two-generator flows in pursuit of these big trophy browns. Rainbows over ten pounds have been caught. The Clinch also contains assorted rough fish, and spin fishers take the occasional walleye and striped bass.
A Tennessee fishing license is required to fish on the Clinch River. Find out more Tennessee fishing license information, from the types of licenses to where to buy them.
There are many guide services available. Click here to find a list.
If you are interested in wading, you will need to check TVA’s website at https://www.tva.gov/Environment/Lake-Levels/Norris to view the water generation schedule. If you plan on boating, you can launch your boat at the River Road TVA access.
There are hotels, cabins, condos and houses to rent near the Clinch River. A few are listed below or you can find more information here.
Norris Dam State Park-Cabins and Campgrounds
Knoxville Campground (located in Clinton, TN)