East of Cleveland, the Hiwassee River starts up in Towns County and flows west to the Tennessee River confluence northeast of Chattanooga.
The Hiwassee River can be divided into three distinct sections. Each section has its own unique characteristics and each section fishes best at different times of the year.
The upper section for fly fishing the Hiwassee River which is the powerhouse to Reliance; This is the Hiwassee river guide's favorite section. The upper section is the most accessible and receives the greatest fishing pressure, except for the Gorge below Big Bend parking lot which has no road accessibility. The upper section boasts all major aquatic eastern insect hatches. Midge, caddis, stonefly and many mayfly species are present. This section is famous for its sulfur hatch in May and it’s Isonynchia in the summertime. Wading access is available roadside and the three mile John Muir Trail parallels the section from Childers Creek to Big Bend parking lot.
The middle section for fly fishing on the Hiwassee River, which is Reliance to Highway 411. The middle section (from Reliance to Hwy 411) also usually fishes best early in the season; April, May and June. This is the easiest section for wading, but can also be floated with one turbine generation. This section is also predominantly known for its caddis hatches. Access for wading can be found at roadside picnic areas and Taylors Island.
The lower section of the Hiwassee River, which is Highway 411 Bridge to Patty Bridge, usually fishes best from March to early May and is known for its huge caddis hatches.
Overall, Hiwassee River is the 6th most popular fly fishing river of all 10 fly fishing spots in Tennessee.