There’s nothing quite like the peace and quiet of a mountain stream. The wind softly whispering through the trees, the soothing rush of water over rocks, the splash of the lure as it glances off the water’s surface. It’s a freedom that every angler knows all too well.
The diversity and class of wild trout in the waters of the Great Smoky Mountains make it a first-rate destination for fly fishing. With over 200 trout streams that combine to form more than 700 miles of incredible fishing spots, the opportunities for catching trout are as varied as the mountain landscape itself.
Fly fishing in the Smokies happens year-round, so it’s always a great time to visit. Just choose your favorite season and fishing conditions, then escape to the mountains and explore the fun. Pick a remote headwater stream with a hike that makes you work for it or opt for a refreshing spot with plenty of easy road-side access.
Whether you’re looking for solitude in nature, or you’re bonding with family and friends, casting a line for trout is an incredible Smoky Mountain adventure. Read on to learn more about our favorite spots for fly fishing near Maggie Valley.
Running right past the Meadowlark Motel in Maggie Valley, discover the rippling waters of Jonathan Creek, part of the Mountain Heritage Trout Waters. The motel’s beautiful recreation area that stretches 200 feet along the banks of the creek comes complete with picnic tables, a fire pit, and a 24×40-foot outdoor pavilion, where you can hear live music every Saturday night along with other Smoky Mountain Heritage events.
You’ll find brook, brown, or rainbow trout in this hatchery supported trout stream. Cast your line starting at 7:00 am on the first Saturday in April through June 30. Then open season fishing officially begins on July 1 and goes to the last day of February. There are no bait or lure restrictions, but here’s a local pro’s tip for you – use smaller-size 12-14 dry flies that are able to support a nymph dropper. Another tip for you…the wild fish in this area tend to eat early and late during the summer months. So, time your fishing trips accordingly.
East Fork Pigeon River
Cascading more than 5,500 feet in elevation from its headwaters, the East Fork offers nearly 8 miles of pristine wilderness trout fishing in some of the most stunning and picturesque water you’ll find near Maggie Valley. The river’s upper end boasts some pretty steep flows, where even anglers in good physical condition should take precaution. The lower end is flatter and wider with much calmer water flow and plenty of public access. With multiple tributaries, the East Fork becomes a decent sized river by the time it crosses off the eastern edge of Shining Rock Wilderness Area.
Cataloochee Creek is really more of a small river than a creek. Head to the lower sections of the creek where you’ll enjoy wide, roomy areas to cast your line for brown trout. Bonus – there’s a good chance you’ll see some wild elk here. In 2001, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park re-introduced an elk herd in the valley, and the Cataloochee area is a prime elk watching spot.
Raven Fork (Upper Raven Fork/Three Forks/Enloe Creek)
Right along the border between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee Reservation, you’ll find a remote and stunningly rugged landscape in The Gorges of Raven Fork. It’s ill-advised to take on this hike alone, as it can be a little dangerous, but if you head upstream of The Gorges, you’ll find a refreshing and secluded place with deep pools where brook and rainbow trout snap for flies on the regular. Bring your camping gear along and make it a weekend trip.
Head a little further outside of Maggie Valley toward Bryson City, NC and you’ll discover Deep Creek, one of the top fly fishing destinations in the Smokies. You’ll find native brook trout and browns that are hungry for dry flies and streamers. Evening fly fishing is prime time here, especially when the hatch is on. When you’re not casting a line in the water, venture into Bryson City – just a 15-minute drive away – and take a tour of the Southern Appalachian Museum of Fly Fishing. Then grab a craft beer and dinner as you tell tales of the big one you caught earlier.
Don’t leave the Bryson City area before stopping by Fontana Lake. It’s the perfect spot for fly or rod fishing, especially if you’d rather get out of the water and fish from a boat. Surrounded by beautiful, wooded hills, the lake is a peaceful and relaxing destination to hide away for the weekend. This otherworldly lake is home to rainbow and brown trout, as well as other species like smallmouth bass and panfish, who love a good popper fly.
Do I need a Fishing License to Fish in Maggie Valley and Haywood County?
The state of North Carolina does require a fishing license, and there are special rules for fishing in national parks and along the . Also, there are special rules for fishing in national parks and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. (Visit the NC Wildlife Resources Commission website for specific details.) in the resources below.
If you don’t have, want or need a full fishing license allowing you to fish anywhere inland, consider the easy-to-obtain 3-day Mountain Heritage Trout Waters license. According to Blue Ridge Outdoors:
“Both residents and non-residents of North Carolina who want to fish the designated Mountain Heritage Trout Waters can purchase a 3-day license…”
This special license gives you a three-day pass to fish in any of the waters designated as “Mountain Heritage Trout Waters,” in Maggie Valley, NC, and Waynesville, NC, and it can be easily obtained online at ncwildlife.org, or by phone at 888-248-6834. The cost at present is $8.00.
Also, according to Visit NC Smokies, if you don’t have a rod or tackle, and don’t have time or inclination to buy your own, you can stop by the Visitor Center of Haywood County (1110 Soco Road) and they’ll give you a free tackle box with lures and flies and lend you a fly rod or spinner rod! How’s that for being downright neighborly?
Book a room or cabin at the Meadowlark Motel as the perfect home base for your Smoky Mountain fly fishing adventure!