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Mountain Heritage Trout Waters

Mountain Heritage Trout Waters

Monday, 04 October 2021 21:58

When people think about western North Carolina, many will immediately picture the mountains. The tallest mountains on the East Coast are located right here in the Great Smoky Mountains. Clingmans Dome, Mount Pisgah, and many other mile-high summits tower over the region. There are hundreds of thousands of acres of virtually untouched forest to explore among these hills. 

For others, it is the allure of the waters that draw them to our area. There are ten river basins and countless creeks and streams crisscrossing southwestern North Carolina. Some people enjoy plunging down river rapids in kayaks or rafts, while others prefer to float slowly down some of the calmer areas. Still, others enjoy this region for the abundance of wild beautiful trout. 

There is no better place to fish than western North Carolina. Despite the popularity of fly fishing in the area, the state and local municipalities have taken steps to help ensure that this will continue to be one of the best fly fishing destinations in the world. In this article, we are discussing what you need to know about the Heritage Trout Waters in our area. 


Heritage Trout Waters

The establishment of the Mountain Heritage Trout Waters has played an integral role in preserving the trout population and ensuring generations will still be able to enjoy fly fishing in western North Carolina. Additionally, tourists benefit substantially from this program. Per the North Carolina Wildlife Commission:

“The Mountain Heritage Trout Waters program is a cooperative effort between the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and local governments to encourage trout fishing as a heritage tourism activity in western North Carolina cities that are designated as a ‘Mountain Heritage Trout Water City.’”

The cities and waters considered part of this program are some of the most pristine and beautiful in the state. 

Mountain Heritage Trout Waters Cities 

Some of the cities in our region that are part of this program include:

  • Bryson City in Swain County. The Tuckasegee River runs through the heart of town. 
  • Dillsboro in Jackson County. The Tuckasegee River also runs through this area.
  • Maggie Valley in Haywood County. The town follows the banks of scenic Jonathan Creek.
  • Sylva in Jackson County. Scott Creek carves a path through this town. 
  • Waynesville in Haywood County. There is a two-mile section of Richland Creek that is considered Mountain Heritage Trout Waters. 
  • Webster in Jackson County. This is another community through which the Tuckasegee River travels. 

All of these areas are quintessential western North Carolina treasures. In each area, you will find hiking, mountain biking, rafting, kayaking, and much more. 

How to Fish in North Carolina Heritage Trout Waters

As of January 1, 2020,  for North Carolina residents, a typical 10-day inland fishing license costs $9. For non-residents, a 10-day license will cost more like $23. 

The advantage of fishing in a region designated as Mountain Heritage Trout Waters is that a fly fishing license will only cost $8 and grant you access to any of these areas for three days. This is the perfect way to secure a low-cost fishing license for a short excursion on a long weekend.

For the most current information be sure to check out the NC Wildlife Hunting, Fishing & Trapping Licenses page that can be found here.

While this license will allow you to fish in a number of areas, you still want to make the most of your experience. Hiring an experienced guide is the best way to explore Mountain Heritage Trout Waters.

Heritage Trout Waters Guide

The guides at Turning Stone’s Fly Fishing have substantial experience fishing in Mountain Heritage Trout Waters. Based in Franklin, NC our stomping grounds are right in the middle of Jackson, Haywood, and Swain counties. 

One of the go-to rivers for our guides and clients is the Tuckaseegee. The Tuck is typically fished between the towns of Dillsboro and Sylva in Jackson County. This is a wide river with plenty of stocked fish. Anglers have a good chance of catching a lot of trout, and there are some large ones waiting to be caught.

This area is convenient to Highlands, Cashiers, Waynesville, Sylva, Cherokee, Franklin, Maggie Valley, and Dillsboro, and is close to Western Carolina University. This river is an absolute must for a beginner, as 30 to 50 fish days can happen here! There is certainly plenty of fun to be had for experienced anglers on the Tuck. 

If you are heading to western North Carolina for a fly fishing excursion, touring with the right guides can take your experience to the next level. We love showing people the beautiful, trout-rich Mountain Heritage Trout Waters here in our area. Contact us today to schedule your excursion on the Tuck and the other southwestern North Carolina trout tailwaters. 

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.