If you’re looking for the best times to go trout fishing in Western North Carolina, the time is now! Situated in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains with 3,000+ miles of waterways, it’s a trout angler’s dream. Aside from the renowned French Broad River, there are countless other scenic streams, rivers, and lakes full of feisty brook, brown, and rainbow trout — making Western North Carolina a veritable fishing paradise. According to French Broad Crossing resident Jay Hawthorne, “It’s not a stretch to say that no one would be able to fish all the trout streams in Western North Carolina in their lifetime.”
Jay is a locally knowledgeable resource when it comes to trout fishing in and around the Asheville area. He’s highly involved with native brook trout restoration, especially in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Jay also proudly serves as Trout Unlimited Conservation Chair for six counties in Western North Carolina, on the Board of the Mills River Partnership, as well as on the N.C. State Council for Trout Unlimited. He believes that trout fishing is best in Western North Carolina two times a year — from October through December, then again from March through May. The timeframes are mainly due to two popular fish stocking seasons: Delayed Harvest and Hatchery Supported.
The Delayed Harvest season
The Delayed Harvest season is one of the most anticipated fishing seasons of the year. It’s a time when 34 specially designated streams are managed to boost angler success. It starts in early October when the water temperatures are typically lower, creating a more comfortable habitat for the trout to thrive. The waterways (designated with black and white signage) are heavily stocked in October and November and then again from March through May. The Delayed Harvest trout waters are managed under a set of rules that help sustain optimal fishing conditions throughout the season. The rules require that anglers only use artificial bait and single hook lures. Also, all trout caught must be returned to the water immediately. Those regulations, along with dense stocking, make trout fishing fun for everyone, no matter their level of expertise. It also helps them hone their skills without pressure or competition from those fishing with live bait. Officially, the Delayed Harvest season runs from October 1 until the first Saturday in June. At that point, standard trout rules go back into effect, allowing fish to be caught and kept — thus giving the season its namesake. To determine the best places and times for your fishing trip, plan your visits around the 2021 Delayed Harvest stocking schedule.
The Hatchery Supported season
Not included in the Delayed Harvest groups of streams are highly popular Hatchery Supported trout waters. There’s no size limit or bait restriction when fishing these, and the creel limit is seven trout per day. Marked with green-and-white signage, Hatchery Supported trout waters are frequently stocked during the spring and early summer. Synonymous with what many consider “trout season,” Hatchery Supported trout waters are open from 7 a.m. on the first Saturday in April until a half-hour after sunset on the last day of February the following year (and closed for the month of March). The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission typically stocks the Hatchery Supported waterways with nearly 960,000 trout — 96% of which average 10 inches in length, with the remaining 4% measuring over 14 inches long. Reference the 2021 Hatchery Supported trout stocking schedule to see when and where stocking occurs during the year.
Where are the best places to go trout fishing in Western North Carolina?
While there are plenty of places to fish in and around our location in Madison County, Jay shared that there are several world-class trout fisheries within a two-hour drive of our hometown of Marshall. His list of best places include:
- Davidson River in Brevard
- Tuckasegee and Nantahala Rivers in Jackson and Macon Counties
- Watauga and South Holston Rivers in East Tennessee
He also divulged that there’s excellent wild and native (brook) trout fishing in numerous higher elevation streams in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Yancey and Mitchell counties.
Are trout in the French Broad River?
Considering that our French Broad Crossing community is located on the majestic French Broad River, people often ask what fish are in the waterway. The most popular species are smallmouth bass and musky, but there are wild brown trout too. Even though the trout are smaller than the bass and musky, they’re still great fun to catch. The best trout fishing locations in the French Broad are in the headwaters near Rosman (within 2 hours of Marshall). Other types of fish found in the French Broad River are walleye, crappie, largemouth bass, perch, white bass, sturgeon, and pickerel — all of which appeal to anglers who enjoy a variety of fishing options, no matter the season.
Charles Orvis, the renowned American pioneer of fly fishing, once said, “More than half the intense enjoyment of fly fishing is derived from the beautiful surroundings, the satisfaction felt from being in the open air, the new lease of life thereby secured, and the many, many pleasant recollections of all one has seen, heard, and done.“
If you’re fishing for “a new lease on life” in beautiful surroundings, then we invite you to discover French Broad Crossing. Here you’ll create lasting memories in an authentic nature community located right on the French Broad River. Visit us, and you’ll experience everything from the rustic River Lodge set high on the mountain, to the Riverfront Family Park, which offers easy water and recreation access. Don’t wait — start exploring the final opportunities at French Broad Crossing right now. Our community is a wild river preserve where you’re never far from your next great adventure — and it’s all here waiting for you. Let’s start planning your visit today.