Our guide to the best Asheville fly fishing rivers and fly fishing streams near Asheville will get you out and on the river exploring some of the absolute best fly fishing options the Asheville area has to offer whether you’re ready to take a guided float trip or just looking to do some wade fishing. The Asheville area is blessed with some of the finest wade fishing opportunities east of the Mississippi. Whether it’s crawling from pool to pool casting dries to weary brook trout on the headwater streams or stalking super selective brown and rainbow trout on the tailwaters of the nearby Watauga and South Holston, the WNC region has it all.
25 Parkway Road, Rosman, NC
828-877-3106 / www.headwateroutfitters.com
FISHING THE NORTH MILLS RIVER RECREATION AREA: The North Mills River area is one of the most popular fishing areas in the Asheville area for a reason. This river is conveniently located to Asheville, has easy access and fishes very well throughout the year. The lower section near the campground and picnic area is the most popular and can be crowded during peak times, so if you are looking to beat the crowds and get more of a wilderness fishing experience, we recommend heading up to the upper sections of the N. Mills to where the river makes a sharp right bend past the campground. From there, the river can be accessed by a trail that runs along the river for approximately 2 miles up to the Hendersonville Reservoir. Other nearby areas include Wash Creek, where you can stalk native brook trout, or the nearby South Fork of the Mills River, which can be accessed from Turkey Pen Road off of US 280 toward Brevard.
Directions from Asheville: Head south out of Asheville on I-26 to exit 40/Airport Road. Turn right toward Brevard/Mills River for 4 miles to North Mills RIver Road and turn right and continue to the N. Mills Campground.
DRIFT + WADE TRIPS ON WATAUGA + HOLSTON: When fly fishing destinations come to mind, East Tennessee. is usually not one that rises to the top of the list. We’ll let you in on a little secret: East Tennessee has better fishing than many areas out West. Although still a secret to many, the rivers of East Tennessee are quickly gaining popularity in the fly fishing world. The combination of the mountains and the surrounding flood plains provide great fishing rivers, one of which is the South Holston. Known for its population of large brown trout, the South Holston is a place where on a good day, you’ll measure the fish caught in pounds rather than inches. It is not uncommon to catch large fish on this river, but usually this task is left to very skilled anglers. East Tennessee is also known for the highly-acclaimed Watauga River, which has East Tennessee’s only catch-and-release stretch known as the “trophy section.” The river has a relatively large fish-per-mile ratio for our area and guided float trips make for a great summer fishing option.
SMALLMOUTH BASS FISHING IN ASHEVILLE ON THE FRENCH BROAD RIVER: Unknown to many anglers, the French Broad River that runs through Downtown Asheville is an outstanding smallmouth bass fishery. The comination of the high fish density seen on this river, its proximity to Asheville, and the reduced number of anglers, makes the the French Broad River a great smallmouth fishing destination for those in Western North Carolina. As one of the oldest rivers in the world, the French Broad River holds smallmouth bass that average 12 inches and some as large as 5 lbs. This river has an immense amount of crayfish and baitfish that are the main food source for the smallies. A wide variety of river bottom types give the fish more than enough room and variety for both habitation and spawning. Because of the variety of river bottom types, the French Broad can be a difficult river to wade. With the limestone ledges that often run the entire width of the river, wading boots with studded soles are recommended. Better yet, experiencing the river from a boat is the ultimate way to spend a day on the French Broad.
For those who want to play Huck Finn for a day, a float by raft or drift boat through the Biltmore Estate is the way to go. Drift past forests and vineyards, casting crease flies and poppers to feisty smallmouth bass that lurk along the rocky shoals. A few musky are caught every year throwing big streamers with wire leaders, but the phenomenal smallie fishing and the scenery is the big draw. You can wade the Bent Creek area when water levels allow.
Directions from Asheville: Take I-240 W to I-26 E and get off on exit 33, NC 191. Turn left and head south on NC 191 until you cross under the Blue Ridge Parkway overpass. The Bent Creek river access is the first left.
CATCH A “GRAND SLAM” ON THE EAST FORK: Once a closely guarded secret, this roadside stream near Rosman has emerged as the region’s most popular Delayed Harvest stream. The state stocks 17,735 trout along 4.75 miles of East Fork Rd. downstream of the Glady Fork. Catch-and-release regulations apply from October to June. All streamside land is private, so please respect posted signs. There are three cascades that dump into frothy holes brimming with rainbow, brown and brook trout. Catch all three species and claim your Grand Slam!
Directions from Asheville: Take I-26 E to Exit 40/Airport Rd. Turn right onto NC 280 towards the airport and continue to Brevard (19.2 miles). Take US 64 W through Brevard to the Rosman exit. Take a right on Hwy 178, then take a left on East Fork Rd. Cross two bridges, then look for the black-and-white Delayed Harvest signs.
HOOK A HAWG ON THE OCONALUFTEE: Most mountain trout average 9″ – 10″, but not on the heavily stocked Oconaluftee, where trout are measured in pounds, not inches. A 2.2-mile stretch near the Blue Ridge Parkway offers catch-and-release fishing for hatchery-raised brook, brown, rainbow, golden and Donaldson trout, some of them weighing more than 6 pounds. Streamers and nymphs are the biggest fish here, but expect lots of company. A tribal fishing permit is required.
Directions from Asheville: Take I-40 W to Exit 27 (the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway). Continue west on US 74 past Waynesville, Sylva and Dillsboro to Cherokee, Exit 74. Follow US 441 onto the reservation.
TUSSLE WITH A TROUT ON THE TUCK: Located near Western Carolina University, the Tuckaseegee is a tailrace formed by two dam-fed forks. From the Hwy 107 bridge at Love Field to the Dillsboro dam, the Tuck is regulated as Delayed Harvest, which is catch-and-release from October until June. The river here is as wide as many western rivers, offering plenty of room for backcasting and the 49,000 trout stocked each year. Best floated in a drift boat, the Tuck can be waded when only one fork is running for power generation.
Directions from Asheville: Take I-40 W to Exit 27 (Hwy 74 W). Follow Hwy 74 W to Exit 85 in Sylva. At third light turn left onto Hwy 107 S. Before you reach WCU, turn right onto River Rd. Look for the black-and-white Delayed Harvest signs.
MADISON COUNTY STREAMS + RIVERS: Ready to land a beautiful fish in a scenic mountain river or river? Look no further than the streams and rivers found just north of Asheville in Madison County. Whether you’re looking to fish for trout, bass, catfish or muskie, you’ll find a lot of fantastic places to fish in Madison County. The most popular fishing areas include Hot Springs, Laurel River area, Marshall and Mars Hill. Depending on the season, anglers can expect to catch plenty of stocked trout during the right months, while wild waters and the great fishing found on the French Broad River are always productive. View the Madison County Fishing Guide…
Directions from Asheville: Take I-26 W to Marshall/Hot Springs exit and head west approximately 1 mile to the Madison County Visitor’s Center (Click For Directions).
CHALLENGE YOUR SKILLS ON THE DAVIDSON: Named as one of Trout Unlimited’s “Top 100 Trout Streams in America,” the Davidson is a very productive freestone river that supports many trophy-class fish over 20 inches. About 14 miles of the river, from its headwaters to Avery Creek, are managed under catch-and-release, fly-fishing only regulations. The lowest mile is hatchery supported. The C&R section can be technical, requiring small flies and light tippets. Midge flies rule here.
Directions from Asheville: Take I-26 E to Exit 40/Airport Rd. Turn right onto NC 280 towards the airport and continue to Brevard (19.2 miles). At the intersection of 280/64/276, turn right onto Hwy 276, which parallels the Davidson through the Pisgah National Forest.