Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Chattooga River North
The Chattooga River begins on Whiteside Mountain
and flows from Cashiers Lake into South
Carolina/Georgia at Ellicot Rock. Ellicot Rock is a rock
that was placed to indicate the intersection of North
Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. From that point
on for forty miles south, the river becomes the border of
South Carolina and Georgia.
The Chattooga River from state road #1100 bridge
downstream to the South Carolina border is under the
state of North Carolina's wild trout - natural bait
regulations. The lower part of the Upper Chattooga
River lies within the upper part of Ellicot's Rock
Wilderness Area. Just as a side note, this huge
wilderness includes parts of three states. The Upper
Chattooga is known for its Chattooga Cliffs and its
gorge called the Upper Narrows.
The river can be reached via the Bull Pen Road off of
state highway #107 south of Cashiers. A few miles out
this road (#1178) you will find the old metal or iron
bridge over the Chattooga River. The river can also be
reached from Highlands North Carolina from taking U.
S. highway #64 to state highway #109 and then south
to Whiteside Cove Road. That puts you in the
Nantahala National Forest where you can find the
Chattooga River trailhead. For those that want to stay
in the area can do so at the Ammons Branch
Campground that is located nearby the river on the
small Ammons Branch tributary to the Chattooga.
The best way to access the stream in the gorge or in
the Upper Narrows of the Chattooga River is also from
the trailhead on Whiteside Cove Road, or the opposite
end of the trail at the Iron Bridge on Bull Pen Road. The
gorge section is as narrow as six feet in places. You
cannot fish through the gorge. The trail is above it and
it is an impossible area to handle unless your a
combination rock climber and angler.
This is a beautiful small to medium size stream that's full
of wild brown trout. It also has some rainbows but the
brown trout seems to be king of the river. Most of them
average about ten to twelve inches. The smaller ones
do take dry flies quite well although I'm sure you would
do better fishing wets or nymphs, especially for the
The upper Chattooga River is lined with rhododendrons
and mountain laurel. The river flows mostly over solid
rock and where it doesn't, the bottom consist of pure
sand. It is full of boulders of all sizes including some that
are huge. It is continuous short plunges and/or runs
and pools usually about ten to not over twenty feet
long. Unless there has been a heavy rain, the water is
usually crystal clear. This makes it more difficult to
catch its brown trout on a clear day. Cloudy days are
best. Fishing early and late in the date is also best if
you want to catch its beautiful brown trout.
The season runs year-round
Trout can be caught on most warm winter days.
Fly fishing the Chattooga River during the Springtime is
the best time to fish it.
Summertime may get a little slow due to warm water
Fall is a great time to catch a large brown trout
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Chattooga River North Carolina
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