The Oconaluftee River

The Oconaluftee, considered “sacred waters” by the Cherokee, and known as the “Luftee, ” is a beautiful, freestone river that drops 2,000 feet over 10 miles. It flows through downtown Cherokee and Qualla Boundary, the homeland of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, before joining the Little Tennessee on the way to Lake Fontana. Wading, tubing, fishing and canoeing are all popular here. However, the Luftee is most famous for its abundant healthy Rainbow, Brook and Brown Trout. In fact it holds the North Carolina Record Brown Trout weighing in at 15.9 pounds.

This pristine river is one of the best Smoky Mountain Blueways for catching North Carolina mountain trout. The river is heavily stocked, 300,000 per year, by the Cherokee Fisheries & Wildlife Management. The easily accessible streams on the reservation are stocked twice weekly. A special fishing permit is required from the Cherokee Reservation.  Check for fishing regulations specific to this river at www.fishcherokee.com and www.ncwildlife.org.

Check out the Oconaluftee River Trail page for more information about things to do while you’re here.

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Rainbow Trout
Brown Trout
Brook Trout
Smallmouth Bass
Largemouth Bass
Catfish
Sunfish
Rock Bass

Put-In Points

  • GPS: (lat) 35.446079, (long) -83.375176
  • Water Type:  River
  • Water Class:  I-II
  • Launch Type:  Primitive
  • Restrooms:  No
  • Picnic Area:  No
  • Universal Access:  No
  • Time to Next Point:  N/A
  • Safety & Other Notes:  N/A
  • GPS: (lat) 35.4591, (long) –83.3577
  • Water Type:  River
  • Water Class:  I
  • Launch Type:  Primitive
  • Restrooms:  No
  • Picnic Area:  No
  • Universal Access:  N/A
  • Time to Next Point:  N/A
  • Safety & Other Notes:  No Boating
  • GPS: (lat) 35.4776, (long) –83.32
  • Water Type:  River
  • Water Class: I
  • Launch Type: Primitive
  • Restrooms: Yes
  • Picnic Area:  Yes
  • Universal Access:  Yes
  • Time to Next Point: 2 Hours
  • Safety & Other Notes:  Dog Friendly