Fly Fishing The Horsepasture River
North Carolina
The Horsepasture River is known for its rainbow trout.
Why it is, I really don't know, because it also has plenty
of brown trout. My guess is that is has more brown trout
than rainbows. This misconception probably has to do
with the state record rainbow being caught in a private
section of the stream. If so, the fact that a large rainbow
was caught in the river is misleading insofar as to what's
typical or normal.

Horsepasture River is the shortest river in the National
Wild and Scenic River system. Its length is just over four
miles. It's known for its waterfalls and hiking adventures,
not fly fishing; however, it's a very good stream to fish.
Its five waterfalls are all within two miles of each other -
Drift Falls, Second Falls (or Turtleback Falls), Rainbow
Falls, Stairstep Falls and Windy Falls. In addition, it has
numerous smaller cascades, rapids, and a huge amount
of boulders and rock outcroppings. Drift and Turtleback
falls occur near the trail access point on Bohaynee
Road at Gorges State Park but the stream is not in
Georges State Park - it's in the Pisgah National Forest.

The popularity of the waterfalls is both an advantage
and a disadvantage. Its trail system lets you access the
Horsepasture River at several places where you can
begin fishing. The disadvantage is the crowds of
sightseers. If you fish during the Summer, the pools at
the base of all the falls will be full of swimmers as well as
some of the other water in the areas near them. As
mentioned above, the river is four miles long and the
waterfalls only represent a small part of the river.
There's plenty of water to fish and there are plenty of
fish to catch.

The Horsepasture River is formed above Lake Sapphire
which it flows through. Above and below Lake Sapphire
the river flows through private property. The first public
access is below the highway 281 bridge. Many think it
flows into Gorges State Park but as mentioned above, it
isn't a part of the park. The park does serve as an
access point to its system of trails that access the river.

The Horsepasture River isn't exactly a small stream. It
probably average over thirty feet in width. It would best
be described as heavy pocket water. The best strategy
for fly fishing the Horsepasture River is to fish it during
the cooler parts of the year when people are not
swimming and the park visitor are low in numbers. We
failed to do this and our first short trip turned out to
involve more looking than fishing. The second time we
fished this stream produced five brown trout and no

It's possible to catch trout during warm, nice winter day
but most of the time, fishing would be tough.
The fishing is best during the Spring.
Summertime is a good time for fly fishing the
Horsepasture River.
Early Fall is an excellent time to fish this stream.

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and Trout Flies
Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Type of Stream

Rainbow Trout (wild and stocked with
Brown Trout (wild and stocked with

Small to medium

Southern North Carolina

Nearest Towns



Non-Resident License
State of North Carolina

National Weather Service

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