Beautiful landscape of lush green mountains behind a river with trees on the banks.

Fontana Lake


Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Nantahala National Forest, in between the Little Tennessee and Tuckasegee Rivers, lovely Fontana Lake is an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts, especially anglers, campers and hikers. Gorgeous lakeview cabins provide breathtaking views of the water and surrounding woods where renters can reside comfortably while enjoying their favorite outdoor pastimes.

Fish Species

Largemouth, Smallmouth and Spotted Bass

Walleye, Muskie and Catfish

Bluegill, Yellow Perch and Crappie

What's Special About This Water?

During World War II, the United States needed electrical power to increase industrial production, so the Tennessee Valley Authority built Fontana Dam to block the Little Tennessee River and create Fontana Lake, harnessing hydroelectric energy to produce aluminum for military aircraft. This process, however, flooded the towns of Proctor and Judson, along with other communities east of the dam. Even today, the remains of these towns become visible when Fontana Lake is drained to conduct maintenance on the dam.

Fontana Lake is one of the most coveted fishing spots in the southeast for smallmouth bass. The water is rich with muskie, walleye and panfish, too. With more than 10,000 acres of cavernous depth from 20 to 400 feet, in addition to 240 miles of shoreline, anglers have scores of options for lucrative fishing.

If you prefer trout fishing, take a shuttle to one of Fontana Lake’s north-shore creeks—Eagle, Forney or Hazel. All three are superb for catching the holy trinity of Smoky Mountain trout—rainbows, browns and brookies. But be sure to carry a map. These creeks are desolate places for only the most experienced hikers and anglers.

Best Time to Fish

Largemouth and smallmouth bass can be caught year-round. Late April through May is the ideal time to fish for walleye, particularly during the early-morning hours and right before sunset. Yellow perch, crappie and bluegill abound during the spring months while catfish bite steadily from spring to late autumn.

Trip Planning

Most of the marinas rent boats and kayaks. If you’re interested in camping, you can pitch a tent in the backcountry or seek campgrounds with RV hookups. A variety of lakeside cabins are available to rent, in addition to multi-family houses, condos and cottages.

Latest Fishing Reports

Additional Information

Technique and Tips

Please keep in mind that although the average depth of Fontana Lake is 30 feet, it’s much deeper further from the shoreline, so don’t stray too far away from the bank when bass fishing. During the summer months walleye could be pursued at depths from 80 to 110 feet using crank baits that emulate the size of the shad inhabiting the water.

Go-To Lures

Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass will hit Damiki Axe Blades, Finesse Worms and Poppers. Rapala Jigging lures work well for walleye, including Ice Jigs during the winter months. For panfish, earthworms and spinners are effective.

Types of Trips

We offer float trips on Fontana Lake and en route to the north-shore creeks—Forney, Hazel and Eagle—where anglers walk and wade for trout.

License Requirements

A valid North Carolina fishing license is required to fish Fontana Lake.

Nearby Towns

  • Bryson City
  • Cherokee
  • Almond
  • Robbinsville