Fly Fishing

Fishing In the North Carolina Great Smoky Mountains of Jackson County

western north carolina fly fishing


Jackson County features some of the best trout waters anywhere and is home to the nation’s only fly fishing trail - the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail.

The Trail maps out 15 prime spots to catch brown, rainbow and brook trout in the crystal-clear streams of the Great Smoky Mountains. Visitors had long recognized Jackson County as a premier destination for fly fishing, but often times weren’t exactly sure where to cast a line. So, the Trail was created in 2009 to guide anglers to our best fishing locations.

Whether you’re looking for wide-open rivers or secluded mountain streams, the WNC Fly Fishing Trail has you covered. The Trail website – – provides a map for download, descriptions and GPS coordinates for all 15 spots, plus a gallery for users to upload photos of their catches. It also includes a weekly fishing report.western north carolina fly fishing

The centerpiece of the Trail, and of Jackson County fishing in general, is the Tuckasegee River. It is the county’s largest body of water, flowing some 40 miles from southeast to northwest. It has been referred to as “Western North Carolina’s best trout stream for fly anglers,” by The Charlotte Observer.

If trout fishing is not your gig, Jackson County is home to a surprising number of high mountain lakes. These lakes yield such game fish as: largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye and even an occasional muskie, not to mention panfish and crappie.

Lakes to consider are: Bear Lake, Wolf Creek Lake and Lake Glenville.

For a complete Jackson County Fishing Guide, call 1-800-962-1911

Check out our new Lake Fishing Guide here >>

Sticky Note Corner


15 prime spots throughout Jackson County. For a free map, call the Jackson County Chamber: 828-586-2155 or 800-962-1911

Jackson County is home to the first designated fly fishing trail in the United States. The Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail includes some of the best trout waters in the Great Smoky Mountains. There are 15 prime spots to catch brook, brown and rainbow trout. Whether searching for quantity or size, open water or small streams, the WNC Fly Fishing Trail has it covered. Detailed trail maps available free of charge.

Need Guide Service? Click here to see a list of members that provide quality service!

Cherokee Indian Reservation

You can choose from hundreds of fishing spots from secluded to easy access trout ponds on the Cherokee Reservation in the Great Smoky Mountains. The Qualla Boundary has more than 30 miles of clear trout streams and three easily accessible ponds that are stocked twice each week with rainbow, brook and brown trout. One quarter million are stocked annually, including thousands of trophy size trout.

Cherokee Tribal Hatchery

The trout are produced at the Cherokee Tribal Trout Hatchery, located on Straight Fork in the Big Cove Community. Visitors are welcome from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.


A state of North Carolina fishing permit is not required on the Cherokee Indian Reservation, but a Tribal fishing permit ($7) is required. Children under 12 are not required to have a permit, but must be accompanied by a permitted adult. Permits are for one to five days or are seasonal, and can be purchased at dozens of Cherokee businesses.

 The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Fishing has been a part of the historic use of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park since its creation. The native brook trout was originally present in most streams above 2000 feet elevation. Extensive logging operations in the early 1900s caused contamination of over 160 miles of clear mountain streams, eliminating the brook trout from about 50% of its original range.

Park Regulations


Persons possessing a valid Tennessee or North Carolina fishing license may fish all open park waters. A license is required of all persons age 16 or older. Persons under age 16 are entitled to the daily adult bag and possession limit, and are subject to all regulations. Senior citizen licensing is available. The Park does not sell fishing licenses. Licenses are obtainble in surrounding communities, outside the park.


Fishing is permitted year-around in open waters.


Fishing is allowed from one half hour before official sunrise to one half hour after official sunset.

Daily Possession Limits
The possession of brook trout is prohibited. Five (5) rainbow or brown trout, smallmouth bass, or a combintaion of these, each day or in possession, regardless of whether they are fresh, stored in an ice chest, or otherwise preserved. The combined total must not exceed five fish.
-Twenty (20) rockbass (redeye) may be kept in addition to the above limit.
-A person must stop fishing immediately after obtaining the limit.

Size Limits

Rainbow and Brown Trout: 7-inch minimum.
Smallmouth Bass: 7-inch minimum.
Rockbass (Redeye): No minimum.
All trout or smallmouth bass caught less than the legal length shall be immediately returned to the water from which it was taken. Any brook trout must be returned immediately to the water, unharmed.

Lures, Bait and Equipment

Hand-held rods only.
Artificial flies and lures. One hook only.
Fishermen may not possess fish bait or liquid scent.
The use or possession of double, treble or gang hooks is prohibited.
Fishing tackle and equipment including creels and fish in possession are subject to inspection.