It’s widely known that fly fishing in North Carolina boasts some of the best angling opportunities in the country. In fact, in 2016, local and state elected officials dubbed Jackson County, NC as the NC Trout Capital. With trout-filled waters, surrounded by mountain majesty and cooler temperatures, everyday fishing becomes an elevated experience for all skill levels. And whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned and salty angler, the rivers and streams of the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail are bountifully awaiting your visit. Waters are full of almost any breed of wild trout you may want to catch. These include rainbow, brook, brown, golden or the elusive Donaldson, sometimes referred to as the “Super Trout.” One doesn’t have to look far amongst the rivers and waterways of the Nantahala National Forest.
Fly Fishing in North Carolina Preparation
Before you head out for a day of fun-filled fishing, there are a few things you need to know. Here is some information about fly fishing to consider:
Do I need a license to fish in North Carolina?
Yes. There are separate licenses for North Carolina residents and nonresidents. Additionally, there are short-term, annual, senior, disabled and junior licenses to fish in the state of North Carolina. For a full list of licenses, or to purchase a license, please contact the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
What kind of gear do I need to fly fish?
Fly fishing is a little different from other fishing experiences. For example, you don’t just throw bait on a hook and drop it in the water. First, you’ll need a fly fishing rod and reel “outfit.” This is not what you wear, but refers to the actual rod and reel. Additionally, because fly fishing involves wading through potentially very cold water, you’ll need to procure a good pair of waders and wading boots. It’s also a good idea to have a fully waterproof rain jacket. The rest of the items you’ll need are typical of any outdoor activity: hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, insect repellent, etc.
Plan your fishing destination.
Make sure to research your desired location before you set out on a day trip to catch those fish. Many of the best fishing spots are a hike from where you will park your vehicle. You may be hiking one to four miles there and, more importantly, back. Be sure to plan for this in case you catch a bounty!
There are many trout waters and trout streams to explore in Western North Carolina that are teeming with fish. Trout fishing is relaxing and gives you an excuse to spend ample amounts of time in the great outdoors. Enjoy these North Carolina fly fishing trails, rivers, streams and creeks. Some have easy accessibility for the novice fly fisher and some require more work to find. We break them down for you in our North Carolina fly fishing guide.
Best Places to Fly Fish in Western North Carolina
Okay, now you’re ready to fly fish! Below, we detail the top 5 best locations for fly fishing in North Carolina. The Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail is the first of its kind in the country. Founded in 2009 by local anglers, experts and county officials, it is a “trail” that leads you to previously uncharted and off-the-path fishing spots.
Top Five Places to Fly Fish in Western North Carolina
We’re starting from the north for the biggest fish in the Smoky Mountains. Raven Fork, known to locals as Cherokee Trophy Water, is conveniently located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Cherokee. This 2.2-mile stretch of water, which is strictly catch and release, offers the largest trophy trout in the area. Brown and rainbow trout typically measure over 20 inches with some over 30 inches. You will need a special permit from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Enterprise.
The next stop on our list is Scott Creek. You’ll be near the incredibly picturesque North Fork Scott Creek and Buff Creek. Scott Creek is hatchery supported, so the fish are plentiful. Popular trout breeds are brown and rainbow. To gain access and parking at this stretch of water, you’ll find many pull-offs and parking spots along U.S. 19/23, approximately 10 miles from the headwaters near Balsam, heading toward Sylva.
Located near the resort area of Sapphire Valley, Panthertown Valley is known as The Yosemite of the East because of its likeness to the original. Protected and supported by a group of individuals called the Friends of Panthertown, this outdoor playground located inside the Nantahala National Forest is popular with hikers, equestrians and anglers alike. Panthertown Creek is a three-mile stretch of waters offering an abundance of Brook trout. This waterway is catch-and-release using a single hook with an artificial lure only. While there are many points of access for parking within the Forest, you will have to hike a mile or two to find good fishing waters.
Arguably the most popular and fruitful destination for fly fishing in the Western North Carolina mountains is Tuckasegee River. With multiple access points along this stretch of river, there’s plenty of room for exploration. This waterway is known for its variety of trout including brook, brown and rainbow, and for the size and numbers of fish. This large river is hatchery fed for most of the year and is reported to receive the most fish in the state. Easy access and parking along Highway 107, U.S. 19, and North River Road allows you to park your vehicle and be in the river within a few minutes.
If you’re looking for a scenic fly fishing experience Whitewater River is for you. Whitewater Falls and beautiful natural landscapes surround you as you hunt for brook, brown and rainbow trout. The Falls, standing at more than 400 feet tall, is one of the highest waterfalls in the Eastern United States. The river can be accessed off Highway 107, which has multiple pull-offs and parking areas.
Fly Fishing Real Estate in North Carolina
As you can see with our top five best locations for fly fishing in North Carolina, there are many ways to enjoy an authentic fly fishing experience in the mountains. Just like visitors to our home state, we also enjoy backcountry fly fishing in North Carolina and can offer more tips. Whether it’s fishing, hiking, kayaking or simply exploring waterfalls and long-range views, one cannot deny the advantages of living amongst pure and unfiltered mountain majesty. These are the reasons people choose to make this beautiful place home. We can help you find the perfect home, too.
Our real estate agents keep up with local market trends to deliver you the best experience in North Carolina country living. We are famous for our southern hospitality, and we’ll always treat you like a member of the family. So, the next time you think about venturing out for some fly fishing in North Carolina, perhaps consider staying awhile, or a lifetime. Depending on when you visit, we can recommend spots for some of the best summer fly fishing or great places for fall fly fishing in North Carolina. Our Landmark Realty Group agents are here for you. Let us help make your next outdoor experience a part of your daily life.
We have a variety of fly fishing properties for sale in North Carolina. Feel free to peruse them on our website at your convenience. If you’d like to build your own home, we also have plenty of North Carolina fly fishing land for sale. Many of our real estate listings are just down the road from the best fly fishing spots in North Carolina. Give us a call today so we can cast out and catch your next dream home! If you’re planning a fly fishing vacation in North Carolina, we can help with that, too. Landmark Realty Group also offers vacation rental homes. Come visit us during the next fly fishing season in North Carolina and we’ll make sure you have a memorable vacation with us in the mountains of Western North Carolina.