WNC Fishing Refresher

By Doug McElvy

With over 3,000 miles of wadeable trout water in western North Carolina, it’s not hard to see some beautiful places and catch beautiful fish. Brevard, North Carolina is famous for its waterfalls but the angling community has known about this area for a long, long time! With the Davidson river flowing through the middle of town, Cathy’s Creek just above town, the French Broad south of town, Little River, and Turkey Creek, North Fork, Looking Glass Creek, to name a few…jumping on I-26 south towards Brevard is definitely a promising direction to choose!

Let’s head north on I-26 into Madison County past Weaverville and Marshall. We know the prestigious and notorious French Broad River is flowing north out of Asheville up to Tennessee, but its tributaries along the way are great and many! One being the Big Laurel, which runs into the French Broad River just north of Hot Springs, North Carolina. The Laurel River, The Big Laurel, and the Shelton Laurel all combine to make the Laurel River, which is home base for several of the most highly regarded wild trout streams amongst the Asheville fly fishing community. Almost all, if not all, of the tributaries that flow into the Laurel River hold beautiful wild trout that have been thriving in these small mountain streams for almost a century.

Lets continue with our direction game. I-40 east, out of Asheville, past Swannannoa, Black Mountain and Old Fort. Is the Catawba River, which flows east right out of Black Mountain and just below Mount Mitchell. It runs out all the way past Hickory, North Carolina, creating some of the best lakes in the region, one being Lake James, before it drops south to Lake Norman and then Wylie. The Catawba is home to small mouth bass and one of the most undiscovered Delayed Harvest waters in the region. Coming off Mount Mitchell in every direction: The Cane, Locust Creek, to name a few, are full of fish and are definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area. Northeast towards Boone, North Carolina, you have the North and South Toe rivers that are notable fishing holes with fairly easy access. Did I mention the Watauga river which starts in Boone and forms some of the most famous fly fishing tailwaters in the country. Those rivers being the Watauga, and the South Holston of east Tennessee.

Ok, so back to the west where the direction of my guide truck seems to be pointed the most. We have the Pigeon River-popular for its whitewater rafting into Tennessee and hiking right off the Blue Ridge Parkway. There is so much water to explore so I wont get very far into it. To name a few my favorites: the Big East Fork, Greasy Prong and down into the West Fork of the Pigeon River. Keep going west and we pass the Tuckasegee River that flows from above Cullowhee and Sylva, North Carolina, eventually into Bryson City where it finds Lake Fontana and braids it’s hair with the Nantahala River. The Nantahala, also know for its whitewater rafting is possibly my favorite trout stream in North Carolina. Its natural reproducing trout population in the whitewater stretch is staggering and is chock full with trout of all sizes. They can be picky, but are definitely worth a committed angler’s effort!

Remember these are only a few of my favorite spots to fly fish around Asheville, North Carolina and you are always encouraged you to get outside and enjoy and respect the beautiful outdoors in the area we call home!

Doug McElvy
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