Old Fort Fishing

By Matt Evans

Old Fort is a unique town because it is fortunate to have the classification as a Mountain Heritage Trout City. This classification is given to cities across Western North Carolina that provide public access to a trout stream that runs through or adjacent to the city. Mill Creek runs through downtown Old Fort and is a healthy trout fishery. The North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission stocks trout anywhere from 10 inches to 20+ inches in the months of March, April, May, October, and November. The best fishing is from the U.S. 70 Bridge to the Interstate 40 Bridge because the stocked fish generally stay in this particular stretch.

Growing up in Old Fort, North Carolina I was fortunate enough to begin my fishing days right here on Mill Creek. My dad, who is also an Old Fort native, was an avid angler and always took me along on his adventures. We would spend our days on the rivers and creeks in the area, but Mill Creek has always been home. One of my most fond memories of fishing on Mill Creek, as a kid, was an afternoon I spent with my dad where we started fishing behind Old Fort School and decided to float all the way to the Old Fort Dam. During this time of year, the red horse suckers from Lake James would run up the river to spawn and were so thick, it felt as if you could walk across them on the water. I thought we had hit the jackpot of fishing, but I quickly realized they weren’t the prized trout I had grown to love while fishing here. Nonetheless, it was a great day, and memory, that I still reminisce on with my dad.

To see where Old Fort has come from, and is continuing to grow towards, makes it even more special to be a small business owner in this town. With two new breweries, a bike apparel company, and the Fonta Flora trail continuing to expand here, we, as a town, are a hidden gem in the foothills of Western North Carolina. I started my business, The Catawba Angler, three years ago as a side passion but I’ve been fortunate to take it on full time and show clients from all over what the fisheries around Old Fort have to offer. Mill Creek is certainly at the top of my list, but Curtis Creek and the Catawba River also flow close to our town and we are lucky enough to guide on them all.

Fishing on Mill Creek can be tricky, just like any other clear mountain stream, but here are a few of my favorite flies to throw, for you to keep in mind next time you’re on the water. Bright colored egg patterns, stonefly nymphs, and Walt’s worms tied with rainbow colored dubbing are my go-to flies when I am guiding on Mill Creek. I hope the creek is as good to you as it has been to me. See you on the water.

Matt Evans is the Owner of The Catawba Angler. It is the only fishing guide service located in Old Fort, North Carolina. TCA offers the highest quality fishing trips with entertaining guides at the most reasonable prices. The Catawba River and the Catawba River Tailrace located below the Bridgewater Dam at Lake James are their specialties.