Trout Fishing in North Carolina — The Catawba Angler (2024)

There are many opportunities to target stocked trout and wild trout in North Carolina.

Trout Fishing in North Carolina — The Catawba Angler (1)

Stocked Fishing Opportunities

The NCWRC stocks a ton of creeks and rivers in NC certain times of the year. Fall and Spring boasts some really good trout fishing on Delayed Harvest and Hatchery Supported creeks & rivers. Stocked fish are fish that are raised in hatcheries, then when they get a certain age or size the state releases them into our waterways for angling opportunities. The best place to find out where to fish in North Carolina is to visit the N.C. Interactive Trout Fishing Map. This shows every public trout fishing creek or river in the state. The link is listed below:

https://www.ncpaws.org/ncwrcmaps/fishingareas

Stocked fish are very opportunistic when they first put them in public water so any bright colored lure normally gets their attention. Once they acclimate to the river system then anglers should start focusing on the natural food presentations for success. A great resource for finding out what bugs hatch certain times of the year is the NC Hatch Chart.

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Stocked fish normally range anywhere from 10 inches to 22 inches. There are always opportunities to catch big trout in stocked waters because the state puts them in there. Most of the 20+ inch fish released into public water are mature trout that were used in the breeding process at the hatchery.

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Wild Trout Fishing Opportunities

Most streams in North Carolina that are above 2,400 feet in elevation hold wild trout. The best advice one can give you is to get on a map and go explore them for yourself. It’s always rewarding as long as you go into it with no expectation. Enjoy the beauty of the oldest mountains in the world and if you happen to catch a wild trout consider it a bonus. The wild trout streams in NC is where you find peace and tranquility. Most wild trout streams in North Carolina will fish best when we start getting some really good hatches in early spring, but trout can be caught year round on wild trout streams. These streams are usually smaller in size so they can be more technical. If you can fish a smaller mountain creek in NC without any hang ups then you can fish anywhere in the US. These smaller mountain creeks makes you a better angler because you have to be stealthy, make good drifts, and avoid the tight overhangs. Most wild trout range anywhere from 6-12 inches. A 12+ inch wild trout is an excellent catch and one should call that a good day of fishing! What these fish lack in size they make up for in beauty. Below I will show you the three wild trout species we have here in North Carolina.

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Trout Fishing in North Carolina — The Catawba Angler (5)

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Trout Fishing 101

Tips to make you a better trout angler in NC:

  1. Hire a fishing guide: There are plenty of guide services in North Carolina that have full time guides on their staff. These men and women have devoted their entire lives to the sport of fishing, and picking their brain during a half or full day trip is money well spent. Professional guides can put you in the right direction from the start and teach you basics that you will use your entire fishing career.

  2. Must Have Flies for NC: Pat’s Rubber Legs, Eggs, Caddis, Parachute Adams, Pheasant Tail Nymph, Zebra Midges, and a Black Wooly Bugger

  3. Downsize your tippet: Size does matter when it comes to your tippet. I use 5x and 6x tippet on any trout stream in North Carolina. For spooky trout in crystal clear water 6.5x to 7x tippet is the way to go. I recommend fishing with a single fly when you are first getting into fly fishing. The more flies you tie on the more likely you are to create tangles with a bad cast.

  4. Spend your money on things that matter: Good fly line and a good pair of waders goes a long way! If you buy cheap fly line for your $300 reel then you are doing yourself a disservice. The best fly line on the market is Scientific Anglers. You cannot go wrong going Scientific Angler’s Air Cel or Frequency line. Simms makes the best waders on the planet and they are made in Bozeman, Montana.

  5. Read a book: There are some great books I will recommend below that have helped me grow as a trout angler throughout the years. I find myself revisiting these books random times again and again.

    The History of Fly Fishing in Fifty Flies: Ian Whitelaw (Great book to learn about popular flies and which flies you actually need)

    Fly Fishing the Blue Ridge Parkway: Sam Johnson (If you want places to fish this is your resource)

    Orvis: Guide to better fly casting: Al Kyte (Great book that breaks down the mechanics of fly casting)

    Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass: Harry Murray (Great read when the trout aren’t biting)

  6. TOTW: In order to become a better angler one needs time on the water. To master something you must practice so get out there and fish. I enjoy Simms marketing campaign: You get one life. FISH IT WELL.

Trout Fishing in North Carolina — The Catawba Angler (2024)
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