The picturesque Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail in Jackson County, North Carolina, features three Mountain Heritage Trout Streams, offering some of the best trout waters to fish in the state and the Southeast. As trout are a cold weather fish, Jackson County’s location is the southernmost spot in the East for trout fishing, meaning that even in winter, temperatures are mild enough for wading.
Winter is known as one of the best times to fly fish in Jackson County, as waters are less crowded with fishermen and more populated with fish. Jackson County boasts the state’s longest contiguous stretch of North Carolina Mountain Heritage Trout Waters, including the Tuckasegee River, one of the most popular spots on the WNC Fly Fishing Trail. Due to its lake-fed water, which remains a constant temperature no matter what time of year, trout are abundant.
The Tuckasegee River participates in a delayed harvest program, where more than 92,000 trout are stocked in the river five times a year. The delayed harvest draws sport fisherman from around the country to Jackson County’s waters for catch-and-release fishing, at its prime from October through May.
“The delayed harvest is purely about sport fishing, and is meant for success,” says Matt Canter of Brookings Anglers, a fishing outfitter and guide service located in Cashiers. “Another benefit to winter fishing is that the hatches are out while you are fishing in the middle of the day. The dry flies are put to good use.”
To help fishermen find the best locations, the WNC Fly Fishing Trail has a map, available for download online. The trail boasts more than 4,600 miles of water and is the first and only fly fishing trail in the country.
Canter’s favorite spot on the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail is Panthertown Creek and Greenwood Creek, spot number five on the map. “It’s off-the-beaten-path and requires some hiking to get to the creek, so it weeds out the crowds. Panthertown Valley is known as the Yosemite of the East, so the scenery combined with the fishing makes it a top-notch location.”
The WNC Fly Fishing Trail was co-founded in 2009 by Jackson County Chamber Director Julie Spiro and AB’s Fly Fishing guide Alex Bell.
“Jackson County, North Carolina provides a unique and diverse variety of fly fishing,” said Bell, owner of AB’s Fly Fishing Guide Service. “When helping to create the trail, we wanted to make sure that we had water appealing to all fly fishers. From wade fishing to float fishing and from small streams to big water, all skills levels enjoy fishing here.”
And it’s not just fly fishing in Jackson County. “You may not realize it but the bass fishing is amazing this time of year,” says Mike Neary of Dream Catcher Guides. “On our guide trips, we often catch bass over five pounds. The bass get much larger than the trout and the fight is significantly more powerful!”
To entice fishing in Jackson County during winter, enjoy discounts on guide trips:
- Brookings Anglers- $100 discount off guided float trips from January 1- March 1. brookingsonline.com/guided-fishing-trips
- AB’s Fly Fishing- Call for specials (828-226-3833). abfish.org
- Dream Catcher Guides- 20 percent off guide trips, 25 percent off bass fishing trips, through March 1. dreamcatcherguides.com
- Blue Chip Fly Fishing- Call for specials (954-263-4452). bluechipflyfishing.com
- Fontana Guides- Call for specials (828-736-2318). fontanaguides.com
For more information on fishing in Jackson County, visit www.DiscoverJacksonNC.com/outdoors/fishing.
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