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    Trout stocked in Cherokee Reservation Enterprise Waters are raised on the reservation.

    Sample Cherokee waters for trout fishing

    Cherokee Reservation Enterprise Waters are well known as some of the best catch-and-keep trout fisheries in North Carolina’s mountains, offering generous creel limits and heavily stocked streams. 

    May 12 at 9:00am
    Didymo, aka rock snot, is a destructive, invasive algae that has showed up in several trout streams in western North Carolina.

    Beware of rock snot - Unwanted algae shows up in WNC streams

    Something nasty this way comes — to paraphrase novelist Ray Bradbury — an alga called “rock snot” that creates carpet-like mats on stream bottoms, smothering aquatic organisms that trout and other fish depend on for sustenance.

    April 12 at 9:00am
    Spring is a great time to catch a trout dinner in North Carolina’s mountain  streams.

    Spring trout are hard to beat

    Beginning around the middle of March and continuing through May, brown, rainbow, and brook trout become active and hungry, and mountain anglers enjoy some of the best trout fishing of the year.

    March 12 at 9:00am
    Kephart Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a challenge for any fly fisher when the water is at full stage.

    A fisher’s primer on flies

    Fishers have been fooling trout into taking artificial flies since the days of ancient Macedonia — and probably much longer — and that practice has changed very little in the intervening years.

    February 12 at 9:00am
    A trout fisherman casts a fly on the delayed-harvest section of the Tuckaseegee River in Jackson County.

    Don’t you dare delay - Delayed-harvest is a winter angler’s dream

    If you want to catch good numbers of trout in the winter, head for a delayed-harvest stream. These streams are heavily stocked in October and November, and fishing remains good throughout the cold months. Streams are stocked again for the spring season beginning in March, and some stockings continue through early summer.

    January 12 at 9:00am
    Big brown trout are common on Deep Creek, and there’s little fishing pressure in fall and winter.

    The Great Smoky Mountains National Park's best streams for fishing

    If you like getting away from the crowds, enjoy beautiful surroundings and don’t mind working for your trout, consider heading for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on your next trip to the western end of the state. The park has some great streams, and the best ones are on the North Carolina side.

    December 12, 2015 at 9:00am
    In the winter, concentrate on drifting nymphs through the deeper, slower parts of a pool.

    Fish with slower presentation during cold spells

    In the winter, when steams are icy cold and hatches are fewer, trout feed more below the surface than above. The action may be slower and less exciting than dry-fly fishing, but the quality of the fish usually is just as good. Fish have to eat regardless of the weather or stream conditions.

    November 12, 2015 at 9:00am
    Tributary creeks are good spots to look for spawning brown and brook trout in the fall.

    If it’s brown, it’s down

    In early October, fall arrives in the mountains with the first dull-red coloring of sourwood, dogwood, and sumac leaves. By the middle of the month, the mountains are ablaze with color, and according to forecasts, this fall promises to be a spectacular color season. 

    October 12, 2015 at 9:00am
    Dropper flies can be dynamite on heavily pressured trout waters.

    Drop a dropper on trout

    Droppers give fly fishers the advantage of fishing a dry fly and a nymph at the same time, an especially effective measure when it’s not obvious how trout are feeding. The dry fly floats on the surface, and the nymph dangles in the water beneath it. The dry fly also functions as a strike indicator and makes less of a splash than commercial or homemade strike indicators. 

    September 14, 2015 at 9:00am
    Fishing small, backcountry streams is the key to successful, late-summer fishing.

    Adapt for August trout

    Late-summer trout fishing requires a slow hand, patience and endurance. Hatches are fewer, and as water temperatures rise, trout seek cooler places in streams: undercut or overgrown banks and deep pools. When water levels drop, as they often do in August, trout are easily spooked. 

    August 13, 2015 at 9:00am
    Fishermen can fish streamers either downstream or upstream, although they might be more effective downstream.

    Sculpzilla: king streamer

    Streamers are flies that imitate a variety of aquatic life, especially minnows, and when fly fishers fish big waters for big trout, they’ll usually tie on a streamer.

    July 13, 2015 at 9:00am
    Public campgrounds can put you within walking distance of some of North Carolina’s best trout waters.

    Home away from home

    Throughout the mountains, public campgrounds are found in national parks, national forests and state parks, many of them located on trout streams or lakes. With very few exceptions, they’re well-maintained, clean, convenient and accessible. Standard amenities include flush toilets, freshwater outlets, pads for tents, picnic tables, fire rings — some with grills — and posts to hang lanterns. Some of the larger campgrounds even have hot-water showers. You can camp in a tent, a camper or an RV. Larger campgrounds have hook-ups for water and electricity.

    June 11, 2015 at 9:00am
    Mike Kesselring fishes Rough Creek in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

    A fly in the ointment

    Mike Kesselring of Bryson City has, by his count, 7,500 trout flies, a collection that includes dry flies, wet flies, nymphs, streamers and terrestrials that he has accumulated over 25 years, and, he said, “The only flies I’ve ever tied were at the end of a tippet.”

    May 11, 2015 at 9:00am
    Trout are raised in hatcheries and stocked in hopes that they’ll wind up on an angler’s dinner table.

    April is new beginning

    I’m old enough to remember when the trout season on hatchery-supported streams closed in the fall and remained closed until the first Saturday in April. That was before I began fishing wild trout streams, so opening day was a special event. A group of us, mostly newspaper types, would open the fishing season on Santeetlah Creek in Graham County, staying in a 100-year-old, mice-infested cabin on upper Santeetlah. We would arrive late Friday afternoon and spend the evening drinking vintage bourbon, playing nickel-dime poker and telling fish stories.

    April 13, 2015 at 9:00am
    This beautiful brown trout was caught in Hazel Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which has more than 1,000 miles of trout streams.

    A trout angler’s paradise

    It is possible to fish a different trout stream every day for a year and cover only a fraction of the streams in western North Carolina. Trout country runs from Surry County in the northwest to Cherokee County in the far west and includes three distinct fisheries: streams regulated by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, streams regulated by the U.S. Park Service and streams regulated by the eastern band of Cherokee Indians.

    March 12, 2015 at 9:00am
    The author supervises his granddaughter on a trip to the Tuckasegee River upstream from the delayed-harvest section.

    Don’t miss the other Tuck

    On just about any day, fair weather or not, the delayed-harvest section of the Tuckasegee River in Jackson County is crowded with trout fishers, either wading or floating the stream. This 4.5-mile stretch of water is the queen of delayed-harvest waters. In the spring, in March to April and again in October and November, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission stocks 49,000 rainbow, brook and brown trout.  Fishing guides love this section because they can almost guarantee that their clients will catch trout — a lot of trout.  

    February 12, 2015 at 9:00am