9 Best Trout Fishing Opportunities Available in North Carolina (2023)
The North Carolina Mountain rivers are a haven for Trout Fishing or fishing in general. Especially in the western corner of the state near the Blue Ridge and Smoky mountains, trout fishing rivers and streams are in abundance. From small stream fishing for the native Brook trout or larger rivers for rainbow and brown trout, an angler in North Carolina can never go out of options. The Western North Carolina mountains boast trout fishing opportunities prominently during the Spring and Fall seasons. It is when water bodies are neck stocked with brown, brook, and rainbow trout that too in abundance.
For fishing in North Carolina, anyone 16 or older must possess an NC Coastal Recreational Fishing License (CRFL). Whether you are a beginner hoping to practice or expert fishermen who are simply looking for new and better opportunities, you undoubtedly deserve a trip to the Western North Carolina Mountains. The secret to trout abundance here is the cold flowing water, making it an ideal habitat to thrive. And with fishing comes the bonus of excellent mountain views, along with the forest serenity.
9 Best Trout Fishing Opportunities Available in North Carolina Rivers
With all that said, here are some of the Popular Rivers for Trout Fishing in North Carolina. Have a look:
1. Linville River
A popular Trout fishery in North Carolina, Linville is a notable river quite famous amongst anglers. This mid-sized river begins from the Linville Gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Crossnore town. Linville River is one of the best trout fishing spots in North Carolina, home to both wild and stocked trout. The river, though, is not the easiest to navigate since its wild pattern has been consistently changing routes and high challenges. However, the same difficulty makes it difficult for many anglers to access the river, allowing the trout fish to grow bigger. As a result, most catches here are trophy sized. The best time for trout fishing in Linville River is during the fall season since it is when trout grow their best shape and size. Reach the Linville Gorge for the best fishing opportunities and find some find access points.
2. Watauga River
Watauga River is a popular river for trout fishing in North Carolina. Watauga is rich with trouts, especially the trophy-sized ones, famous amongst both beginner and veteran anglers. Since the river is at a high elevation and is fed by cold mountain creeks, it is considered a haven for trout fishing enthusiasts. Watauga river is hatchery supported and has a wider flow which makes fishing easier and hassle-free here. However, there are several wild water spots for anglers who want extra challenges. The river, though, has multiple fishing points, but the best amongst them is at the Watauga River Gorge Access area and the Valle Crucis Community Park. According to regular fishermen, new anglers must carry a river and region map for more convenience during fishing here.
3. Mitchell River
Mitchell River is a pristine trout fishing destination in North Carolina. Its near-perfect stream conditions and mountain landscapes make it popular amongst local and visiting anglers. Mitchell River is located in Surry County and is known for housing big rainbows and brown trout in abundance. Not only for trout, but Mitchell is also popular for fly fishing opportunities. The best time to try your angling skills and luck here is during the early spring or the late fall season. Because of delayed insect hatches during these months, fishes grow better and more here. Mitchell River, though, has plenty of access points, and the majority of them are located near Greensboro and Charlotte town/ city. Besides fishing, Mitchell River is also popular for its astounding views, fantastic backdrops, and mesmerizing serenity. No wonder it has been used as a backdrop for several Hollywood movies.
4. Davidson River
Davidson River is a year-round fishing destination in North Carolina known for its fly fishing and trout fishing opportunities. Davidson River is near the city of Asheville and is stocked with rainbow, brown, and brook trout, both wild and stocked ones. Since it is closed to the interstate route, it has many public access points. The section above Avery Creek is perfect for wild trout and catch-and-release fly fishing. In contrast, the below Avery Creek section is known for its abundance of trout fishes and heavy fishing opportunities. However, the latter section will bring many interruptions for fishermen since kayakers, tubers, and canoers frequent it. Davidson river, though, operates fishing opportunities year-round, but the best of them come during the fall and spring season.
NOTE: Davidson River is also popular for fly fishing, and some famous catches here include White Belly or Olive Matuka Sculpin, Little Yellow Stoneflies, Light Cahills, and Blue-winged Olives.
5. North Toe River
Popular for its wild trout fish population, the North Toe River is located in Avery County, flowing somewhere high from the mountains. Toe’s lower section is easily accessible, making it easier and convenient for beginners and fly fishers. Whereas for trout fishing, the upper section is more convenient since it has an abundance of designated trout waters. Access to the upper section of the river, though, isn’t very easy since the landscapes are very rugged. Anglers accessing this section must also possess some fine hiking skills, or the navigation might become tricky. North Toe River isn’t very frequently fished, and therefore anglers who want to avoid the crowd can choose it as their go-to spot. Fishing at North Toe River operates year-round though spring seems to be the best time for the same.
6. Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail
For individuals who are into Fly Fishing and Trout Fishing, there is no better opportunity for them than the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail. Located in Jackson County, this giant network trail features over 15 trout streams, all of which are connected with the Tuckaseigee River. The spread of trail features over 4,600 miles of streams and has 31 public access points. Rainbow, brown, and brook trout are abundant, both wild and stocked, and catching them is easier with more possibilities. The waterways in these trails are of different shapes, sizes, and difficulty levels. Whether you are a novice or an expert fisher, the trail can accommodate for different situations altogether.
TIP: Consider taking along a Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail Map or coordinate through GPS for better navigation and opportunities.
7. Wilson Creek
Wilson Creek runs through the Pisgah National Forest, starting from the Blue Ridge Parkway all the way through Edgemont in Caldwell County. Popular for its crystal clear water and surrounded by rugged terrain, the creek is full of big rainbow, brown, and brook trout. For accessing the creek, multiple trails cater to easy hiking and trekking. Wilson Creek offers a diverse range of fishing conditions and opportunities. It features small pools, riffles, and several runs that flow down the hill. Trout fishes are usually stocked in larger and deeper pools right off the roadway access points. Wilson is a beautiful trout stream, and the natural beauty around it is in abundance.
8. South Mills River
South Mills River is a popular fishing spot known for its richness of rainbow and brown trout’s wild population. It is basically a wild trout fishery, and hence it is catch and release. South Mills River features several deep pools where one can find large trout. The river is known for its remote and scenic location, for which anglers come drawn from states and beyond. Spring is the best time for hatches, whereas fall is the ultimate season for large brown trout. However, since the South Mills River is quite remote, one has to make their way through different challenges. Until you don’t have been to a rough forest before, the route to South Mills River isn’t for you.
9. Oconaluftee River
Located in the Cherokee Indian Reservation, the Oconaluftee River is the best trout fishing spot in North Carolina. The river is home to an abundance of rainbow and brown trout, which also makes for an easy catch. Oconaluftee River is noted as one of the longest private fisheries in the entire United States. Oconaluftee River is also home to over 30 miles of crystal clear streams that provide ideal wading and fly fishing opportunities. The best time for trying your angling skills here is during the spring/snowmelt season. The melting snow at a higher altitude makes better trout habitat. Besides that, the surrounding of Oconaluftee boasts beautiful scenery that can refresh your mind from every stress.