Rivers of western north Carolina and east Tennessee
There are waters here for every angler. Drastic elevation changes within relatively short distances offer a variety of water temperatures and therefore a variety of aquatic life. Western guides and anglers visit our waters for smallmouth bass and musky because they are “bored” with trout. Saltwater enthusiasts come for the cold water and the trout found within. We travel to salty waters in search of new experiences in the same way. We understand how refreshing a new slice of water can be.
In Asheville, we are fortunate to have many fishing opportunities 12 months out of the year that keep it fresh for everyone. Every season provides opportunities to catch fish and experience something new. We have our favorites as to each their own. This is how we see the waters of Western North Carolina and East Tennessee and what excites us about them. These are the rivers we find offer the best fishing, scenery and all-around experience. This is where we spend all of our time. These are our home waters. We have spent thousands of days between us meticulously trusting our process, collecting data, testing the boundaries, and exploring new ones. We respect these waters and participate in river clean-ups each year and donate a thousand dollars every year to local environmental non-profits.
As an angler, some waters are more fun to fish than others. The Watauga River is fun to fish and we love it for its variety of features. It has all the water types a trout could ever want. In any given day, it offers anglers a chance to target trout on dry flies, nymphs, and streamers. The Watauga River offers great fishing all year. This river is best targeted on a full day Trout Float Trip with the option to get out and wade during low water flows. We have been all over the country chasing trout, and the Watauga is one of our favorites.
South Holston River
The “SoHo” is one of the southeast’s finest tailwaters and is getting the reputation as one of the best rivers in the country. It is famous for its Sulfur mayfly hatch—the yellow cloud of bugs start hovering in May and last until September. The streamer fishing and BWO hatches are also very good during cooler months and both offer world-class dry fly fishing for trophy wild brown trout. The SoHo offers great fishing year-round.
The “Noli” is debatably the most beautiful freestone river Western North Carolina and East Tennessee have to offer. Floating down this river is a great way to see the countryside. It is home to bald eagles, osprey, heron, black bear, fox, turkey, smallmouth bass, musky, trout and other warm water species. Nolichucky means “dangerous waters, rushing waters, black swirling waters.” It is derived of a Cherokee origin and flows through the Cherokee National Forest and Pisgah National Forest. The nine-mile Nolichucky Gorge is the deepest gorge in the southeast and holds class IV rapids, monster smallmouth bass, and musky. There are no roads, 400-foot limestone bluffs, and no way in or out except by boat. This is fun, fast fishing for advanced, athletic anglers. While some of the sections are dangerous at certain levels, other sections offer more gentle flows for anglers of all experience levels.
French Broad River
What is now the Biltmore Estate was once merely a floodplain to the headwaters of the French Broad River. It’s one of the oldest rivers in the world, and one of the few that cross a continental divide. It offers anglers the opportunity to catch trout, smallmouth bass, musky, walleye, and a variety of other species in a variety of water types. Throughout its course, cold spring-fed creeks and streams feed the French Broad from its headwaters near Brevard, NC, to Knoxville TN.
Wild Trout Waters
Pisgah National Forest has thousands of miles of designated trout water and is full of small cold-water trout streams. It is a playground for any fly fishing angler seeking trout on foot.
The Pigeon River is a trophy smallmouth bass fishery. It begins its descent in NC and flows northwest into TN where it terminates into the French Broad River. Several miles upstream in Pisgah National Forest its headwaters are pristine with large boulder gardens and dramatic elevation change making for scenic waterfalls and plunge pools.
Delayed Harvest Rivers
A number of medium sized streams within Pisgah National Forest and the surrounding Asheville NC area are supported by a stocking program that offers year round fly fishing. The best months to target these waters are between October and June when catch and release regulations are enforced.
The Davidson was named one of Trout Unlimited’s top 100 Trout streams. With that recognition comes a certain amount of popularity. The Davidson River is famous for its big fish, epic scenery and technical fishing.