man fly fishing in the fall in jackson county

Insider’s Guide to the WNC Fly Fishing Trail®

Brook, Brown and Rainbow … oh my! The angler’s paradise of Jackson County, N.C., is home to all three of these trout species and the best trout waters in N.C. Located in the western N.C. mountains, Jackson County is also home to the country’s first and only fly fishing trail, making it a must-visit for any and all fishermen.

Jackson County’s WNC Fly Fishing Trail® will take anglers through a variety of fly fishing experiences, from wade fishing to float fishing, from small streams to big water. Along the trail, guests will experience 15 prime fishing stops, more than 4,600 miles of streams and 1,100 miles of hatchery-supported waters. The natural beauty of the area coupled with the well-stocked waters, make our county the ideal destination to cast a line. Julie Spiro, one of the creators of the trail said that it was “created to enhance what the area was already well-known for, but to not detract from the natural beauty.”

During early October, the delayed-harvest waters of Jackson County are stocked with 20,000 trout. The freshly-stocked waters create the perfect opportunity to reel in the big one! We picked the brains of the area’s expert guides, who scour these rivers day in and out, to bring to you the insider’s guide to fly fishing in Jackson County. Here’s what they had to share.

  1. The best time to fish is fall through spring. The cooler temperatures allow cold-blooded fish to comfortably feed all day. Early October is when the state begins its supplemental stockings, meaning that nibbles on your line will become more and more frequent during that time! These stockings continue through the first Saturday in June.
  2. Challenge yourself to accomplish the Tuck Grand Slam by catching all three types of the area’s popular trout – Brook, Brown and Rainbow.
  3. All skill levels can enjoy the trail. For an easier spot, try the Tuckasegee River. Its ease of public access makes it a popular place on the trail. For more adventurous anglers, try Caney Fork, Mull Creek or Moses Creek. However, be conscientious of private property and National Forest Land in that area, and always use caution when walking in the water.
  4. The most scenic point on the trail is the Caney Fork stream, especially during the fall! You can also enjoy several waterfalls in the surrounding area. Additionally, wild brown, rainbow and some brook trout can be found in this area.
  5. If you need some gear or would like some professional guidance, don’t worry! In addition to offering necessary supplies for rent or purchase, local outfitters are available as tour guides to help visitors navigate the waters. See a complete list of local outfitters and fly shops here.
  6. Grab a free, water resistant WNC Fly Fishing Trail® Map at the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce or the Cashiers Area Chamber of Commerce, or download one from
  7. Don’t forget to purchase a fishing license! N.C. residents can purchase a license here for $7, and non-N.C. residents can purchase a license here for $18. Lastly, if you will be fishing in Sylva, Dillsboro or Webster, you may purchase a Mountain Heritage Trout Waters license for $5 which is good for three days. Maps of those waters can be found on the NC Wildlife website.

Fun Fact: Jackson County, which is annually stocked with most fish in the entire state, was proclaimed the North Carolina Trout Capital® in 2016.

Jackson County’s numerous dining and accommodation options make it the perfect place for a relaxing weekend getaway on the water. Be sure to request a free visitor guide and begin planning your fishermen’s retreat today!

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