Fly fishing anglers have a knack for leaving their worries at the door after they pull up their waders and strap on their boots. It’s the type of sport that allows you to spend time in nature, and focus on only one thing and that is casting to rising trout. There is an extensive list of rivers out west that provide phenomenal fishing, but not every angler has the capability to leave for a week at a time. So, that’s why we made a skinny list that provides anglers with a cheat sheet to fish around Western North Carolina. Whether traveling from Atlanta, Charleston, Kentucky, or Virginia, Western North Carolina can provide anglers with the best fishing in the Southeast!
Take a look at these outstanding places to fish and how you should approach them, next time you plan a trip out to Asheville, NC!
5 Best Rivers to Fish in Western North Carolina
Upper French Broad: The East Fork has technical fishing and easy access, combined. With relatively easy wading, just a drop down the bank from the pull off, and you’re in the river. In this river, you will find small pools combined with long stretches of bank-tight ditches. Come prepared with a 4wt-5wt for shooting long casts to catch rainbow, brown and brook trout on a dry fly. Many of the regular hatches, common to Western North Carolina, can be found here. Dry flies are primarily the fly of choice due to the shallow, clear water stream. Sight fishing is very popular in the East Fork and is one of the best ways to catch trout. Cast dries early in the morning, matching a hatch, or late in the evening to get a chance at catching a big brown or brook trout.
Davidson River: The Davidson River is known for its small midges and bushy terrestrial bites. Located miles away from Brevard and a short drive through Pisgah National Forest. The Davidson River has many easy pull offs and can be fished with a 5wt. The lower section of the Davidson is heavily stocked with brown trout, brook trout and rainbow trout. Above the fish hatchery, anglers can find wild trout with only a short drive up the same road. The highly oxygenated river holds plenty of trout for a day trip or a week-long getaway. Float small midges in deep pools to get a chance to hook a large brown trout, fly fishing with a 5-6wt!
North Toe Spruce Pine: The North Toe River in Spruce Pine, NC offers anglers easy accessibility and plenty of trout. Right near downtown Spruce Pine, prime trout fishing can be found. The river offers anglers with fantastic dry dropper fishing and midge fishing. Be sure to use proper equipment, such as a 5-6wt rod with 3-5x tippet – big brown trout can be found lurking around. To avoid fishing pressure, and to capitalize on a dry fly bite, head to the river right before sunrise or right at dusk. Big browns and rainbow trout will come out to feed on mayflies in the summer.
North Mills River: The North Mills River has an opportunity for anglers of all skill levels. The delayed harvest fishery runs from the Township of Mills River to Brevard. With plenty of river to fish, anglers can seclude themselves to avoid knocking elbows. The North Mills provides anglers with wild trout fishing in Pisgah National Forest and delayed harvest sections near the campground. The river is technical and it can be challenging not to spook fish. Recommended leader lengths are from 7-9ft, paired with a 4-5wt rod and reel. Cast dry flies for explosives strikes. Follow the gravel road through Pisgah to search for wild trout. The road winds for miles, but the river will soon make another appearance. Throw size #16-20 dries and small midges for high-sticking pockets.
Wilson’s Creek (Catawba/Linville): The famous Wilson’s Creek, known for it’s large rainbow trout and big wild trout, is a fishing destination that cannot be missed. With beautiful scenery, fishy waters, and plenty of trout to be caught, Wilson’s Creek is a peaceful place to spend a day or a weekend away. Fish the lower section near Catawba for large specimens of rainbow and brown trout or travel the gravel road up river to search for wild brook trout. Fishing Wilson’s Creek you will find deep pools with long runs. To get to the deeper water, fish a dry dropper combination with a long 9-12ft. leader. Strike indicators are helpful in strong current pools. Deep pockets can be fished with big terrestrials as well. Trout will rise all day in the fall and more commonly at dusk in the summer months.
Paul Kisielewski is a seasoned guide in Asheville, NC and owns Southern Appalachian Anglers – Asheville Fly Fishing Guide Service. He is local to the area and grew up chasing wild trout around WNC. For reservations call (828) 691-1506 or visit southernappalachiananglers.com to reserve a fly fishing destination.