Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Nantahala River North
The Nantahala is probably the best know river in North
Carolina but not because of its fly fishing opportunities.
It's because of its white water. It's a very popular
kayaking stream. Fly fishing the Nantahala River is also
popular. This stream flows through sections of the
Nantahala National Forest. It begins on Standing Indian
Mountain from a number of small headwater streams
that have some brook trout. They are protected only by
the sheer distance one has to go in order to fish them.
Kimsey Creek, Park Creek, Bearpin Creek, Big and
Little Indian Creeks, and Curtis Creek are the major
tributaries. The upper part of the Nantahala River is all
managed as wild trout waters except for Kimsey and
From Mooney Falls downstream for about six miles an
unpaved Forest Service Road #67 follows the stream.
It's still quite small and in a canyon-like area part of the
way. There are two campground along this section of
the river. Below the lower campground, Standing Indian
Campground, highway #64 follows the stream. The
lower section of the river, above Nantahala Lake is
mostly all private property. There are two sizeable
tributary streams - Bucks Creek and Jarret Creek above
the lake. Jarret Creek enters the lake rather than the
river. Upstream of the lake, Buck Creek enters the
stream. Bucks creek has some wild trout, mostly
rainbows. Its small, wide and shallow but does provide
about three miles of water to fish. Jarret Creek has a
population of small wild rainbows and a little over a mile
of water that can be fished.
Below Nantahala Lake, the river changes drastically
because most of the water is discharged from the lake
through a pipe to a powerhouse at the upper end of
Nantahala Gorge, a distance of seven miles. The only
water that comes out of the lake comes through the
spillway and at that point, it's almost zip. The only water
in the seven mile stretch comes from small tributary
streams, so there's usually not much water in this
section. This area is stocked.
At the end of this section, from Appletree Campground
on highway #1401 downstream, there's another three
and a half miles of water that's within the National
Forest Land. The main source of water comes from
White Oak Creek. Below White Oak the stream is
heavily stocked. The section downstream from White
Oak Creek to the Powerhouse falls is under North
Carolina's Delayed Harvest Regulations.
Fly fishing the Nantahala River in this section is by far
the most popular area to fish it. It can be accessed from
State road #1310 (Ball Road) which turns off Highway
#19. The road takes you to the powerhouse. The
Delayed Harvest section starts above the powerhouse.
It's still a relatively small stream in the DH area.
When the water comes out the pipeline at the
powerhouse, the flow of the Nantahala River increases
big time. It flows for about eight miles through the
Nantahala Gorge that's so popular with those that float
the whitewater on rafts. Of course, when the dam isn't
generating, the water doesn't gush from the pipe and
this part of the river is a moderately flowing stream that
can be waded. When it is flowing, it's almost impossible
to wade. This section of the river is stocked and
contains a lot of holdover trout. This section is very
easy to access. Highway #19 follows closely along the
The season runs year-round
Trout can be caught most days of the winter
Spring is the best time to fish the river due to the
Summertime is okay in the headwaters
Fall is the best time in the delayed harvest section
Fly Fishing Guide for the Nantahala River
Fly fishing the Nantahala River (Click Here To Continue)
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Nice brown trout caught by
Eric Peacock on our Matuka
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