Guide to Trout Fishing in North Carolina

Guide to Trout Fishing in North Carolina

North Carolina, with its sprawling coastline and deep ocean adventures, is often associated with saltwater fishing. However, the state’s inland waters, spanning over 3,000 miles of rivers, streams, ponds, and lakes, offer some of the best trout fishing opportunities in the Appalachian Mountains, particularly in the western region. This guide aims to provide you with everything you need to know about trout fishing in North Carolina, from the types of trout available to the gear you’ll need, the licenses required, and some of the best fishing spots in the state.

Can You Trout Fish in North Carolina?

Yes, North Carolina offers some of the best trout fishing experiences in the world. The western mountain areas of the state, abundant with rivers, lakes, creeks, and ponds, are teeming with trout due to heavy rainfall and humidity. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) releases farmed stockers at regular intervals throughout the year to support the native trout population, which is already healthy.

Guide to Trout Fishing in North Carolina

Do You Need a Special License to Trout Fish in North Carolina?

Before casting your line, you’ll need to secure a fishing license. North Carolina offers several licensing programs, including annual licenses for residents and non-residents. The State Inland Fishing License, priced at $25 for residents and $45 for non-residents, allows fishing across the state, excluding coastal areas. The Unified Inland/Coastal Recreational Fishing license, available only to North Carolina residents for $41, permits trout fishing on state game lands and joint waters. If you plan to fish for trout outside of designated Mountain Heritage Waters, you’ll need to purchase a North Carolina Trout Stamp in addition to your fishing license.

Is there a season for trout fishing in North Carolina?

While you can fish for trout in North Carolina all year round, there are specific seasons for hatchery-supported waters. Fishing is prohibited from the first day of March to the last day of July each year in these waters to allow the native fish to spawn, breed, and multiply undisturbed.

What kind of trout fishing is available in North Carolina?

North Carolina’s diverse ecological history has resulted in a variety of trout species in its waters. The primary species include Brook trout, Rainbow trout, Brown trout, and the elusive Tiger trout, a hybrid strain of Brook and Brown trout. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission also stocks trout raised in North Carolina hatcheries.

Gear You’ll Need for North Carolina Trout Fishing

When preparing for trout fishing in North Carolina, anticipate mountain climbs and off-road excursions. Essential gear includes quality hiking boots, waders, a fishing vest, and a rod and reel suitable for your fishing style. Spin fishermen typically use 5 to 6-foot lightweight or ultralightweight rods with 4 to 6-pound monofilament, while fly fishermen prefer 7 ½ to 9-foot rods with four to six weights. Other useful items include a landing net, forceps, and a camera.

The Best Spots for Great Trout Fishing in North Carolina

North Carolina offers numerous hotspots for trout fishing, including Big Snowbird Creek, Davidson River, Deep Creek, Forney Creek, Hazel Creek, Lost Cove Creek, and Nantahala River. Each of these locations offers unique fishing experiences and opportunities to catch a variety of trout species.


With the right licenses, gear, and knowledge of the best fishing spots, you’re well-equipped for an unforgettable trout fishing experience in North Carolina. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a novice, the state’s diverse and abundant trout waters are sure to provide a rewarding adventure. So, get ready to cast your line and reel in the excitement of trout fishing in North Carolina.

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