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Four Seasons of Fly Fishing in WNC

Four Seasons of Fly Fishing in WNC

Monday, 03 May 2021 13:11

There is a lot to love about western North Carolina. We have majestic mountains, thousands of miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, and some of the most remote, untouched land east of the Mississippi River. 

There are dozens of charming small towns with their own personalities and characteristics. Our region is home to the highest concentration of waterfalls on the East Coast. In our area, we are always just a short drive or hike to some amazing natural wonder. 

We have the perfect weather for those who find summers down east to be too hot and humid, but winters in the High Country too cold and snowy. From Asheville to Murphy, Bryson City, and Franklin, residents and tourists in the southwestern corner of North Carolina experience the very best of all four seasons. 

We are relatively mild in winter, with cooler summers than Charlotte, NC, Greenville SC, and Atlanta, GA. Spring brings new life and an abundance of wildflowers, while autumn puts on the most brilliant display of vibrant colors.

If all that is not enough to convince you to visit our area, our favorite part of living here is that you can go fly fishing any time of the year. In this article, we are covering the best area for fly fishing in each season.


1) Winter Fly Fishing: Big Snowbird Creek

The Snowbird Wilderness is 8,000 acres of protected wilderness near Robbinsville, NC, that is about as untouched as any in the state. Flowing into stunning Santeetlah Lake, Big Snowbird Creek is hatchery supported, with a short delayed harvest stretch also. 

This stream has a solid population of wild rainbow trout and an occasional wild brown trout. If you hike up stream from the junction you can get into native brook trout. From winter through early spring, experienced anglers enjoy a solid run of steelhead. It is always beneficial to fish Snowbird Creek with the help of a seasoned guide

Most of these lake run fish you'll snag are going to be 14-18 inches long, but you can definitely catch some larger ones. 

2) Spring Fly Fishing: The Raven Fork of the Oconaluftee

If you are planning a fly fishing adventure for the spring, The Raven Fork of the Oconaluftee is a must-visit. Its headwaters begin in the high elevations of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, joining the Oconaluftee river near the visitor center. 

You are likely to catch some monster fish in this small stretch of river. This portion of the river is 2.2 miles of catch and release fly fishing only trophy water. It starts at the Blue Ridge Parkway overpass and ends up river below the walking bridge at XYZ campground. 

Make sure you ask our guides about scheduling a spring fly fishing trip on the Raven Fork of the Oconaluftee River. 

3) Summer Fly Fishing: The Nantahala River

During the summer, we love to fish on the Nantahala. The river is divided into two portions for fly fishing. A power plant separates these two sections. There are several supplied fish at various times of the year above the power plant, as well as a large number of wild fish all year. 

The upper river is subject to harvest restrictions. That means it's catch and release, single-hook artificial only, from the first of October until the first Saturday of June! A huge pipe delivers water down from Nantahala Lake to the powerhouse. 

Because this is a tailwater, the water is extremely cold all year, which is ideal for thriving wild fish populations. The current North Carolina state record brown trout was caught in this region, weighing in at a massive 24 lbs. 10 ounces!

You could fish a different section of the wild trout water every day and never fish it all within your lifetime. You can check out #sqautchyeah on Instagram to see some of the beautiful fish caught in this area. 

4) Fall Fly Fishing: Tuckasegee

You may have heard the Tuckasegee referred to as "the Tuck." Convenient to other southwestern North Carolina towns like Bryson City, Franklin, Cherokee, Maggie Valley, and Waynesville, the Tuckasegee River is typically fished between Sylva and Dillsboro. With the right guide, it is possible for even beginners to pull as many as 30 to 50 fish or more in a single day. We love to give tours on the Tuck. 

Turning Stone's Fly Fishing | Fly Fishing in Every Season

If you are considering a visit or fly fishing expedition in western North Carolina, you don't have to wait for the weather to change. In every season, there is a river or waterway waiting for you. The problem is not finding beautiful trout; it's just knowing where you look. 

Whether you are a total Fly Fishing novice or you have years of experience, there is always something you can learn from our award-winning anglers and guides. 

We choose to call this area home because we love the fishing here. If you want to know where to go fly fishing in any season, reach out to Turning Stone's Fly Fishing for more information.

Written by:

Gordon began fly fishing as a teenager in southwestern Pennsylvania, where he was raised. He has snagged great catches from as far away as Nevada, California, and Belize. However, he and his wife decided to settle in western North Carolina, where they started Turning Stones. Gordon is a Certified Casting Instructor for the Federation of Fly Fishers and the  Southeastern Coach of the USA Youth Fly Fishing Team.